Saturday, 10 October 2015

Why I Loved Being In Agra And Lucknow

LUCKNOW, the city where I spent my gawky teenage years honoured me as a ‘travel writer’. It could only be a dream! But, what really thrilled me about the UP Tourism Travel Writers’ Conclave 2015 was that Lucknow, ‘the city of great architecture and food’, finally got its due. I always wanted it to be recognised as a tourist destination on a world podium. So, when UP Tourism took the grand initiative of promoting it (along with Varanasi and Agra) through travel writers across the country and the world, I couldn’t be happier.


Since Lucknow had been my city for a decade, I chose to explore AGRA – a city that I hadn’t set foot in before. Yes, I hadn’t been to Agra ever in my life. So, when I was given the privilege to see Taj Mahal at the sunrise, I simply couldn’t resist it.

Besides the beguiling heritage and food, there’s a certain aura about the cities of Uttar Pradesh – the hues of religion, the shadows of traditions and the blends of beliefs, which is truly enamouring. I’d recommend slow travel in Uttar Pradesh. You can’t really do justice to its nonchalant vibe in a hurried trip.

So, why should you explore Uttar Pradesh?

The Taj Mahal

Of course, the Taj Mahal is your first bait to visit Uttar Pradesh. I was fortunate to witness its unfading glory in the fresh morning glow. However, I’d like to admit that I wish I had more time to linger around this iconic monument and take some epic shots.


Unique glimpses of history at Fatehpur Sikri

Although I’m not much of a history lover, I was intrigued by Fatehpur Sikri’s wall carvings that hinted at different faiths and religions. It was amazing to see gothic church arches, grapevines and Persian verses on the walls.  


The Chambal Ghati and the river

The dusty drive through the Chambal Ghati led us to the calming Chambal River, which connects Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The water is beautifully blue and a boat ride introduces you to quite a few unique birds and crocodiles.


Rustic properties

We got to spend a night at Chambal Safari Lodge, an eco-friendly haven in a village near Agra. I found this property a perfect way to chew on the rural charms of Uttar Pradesh. Besides the property being soaked in verdure, the surrounds are also bucolic and earthy.


Plush hotels

To be honest, staying at luxurious hotels is not my personal travel style, but I enjoyed the hotels in Agra and Lucknow, as they really live up to their royal legacy. I personally loved my stay at Renaissance Hotel of Lucknow, which had stunning views of the city, delectable food and an immaculate hospitality. I particularly loved the lamb kebabs, which was the chef’s specialty.


Amazing shopping

Both Lucknow and Agra are great places for shopping. You can pick up some daintily beautiful marble products from the showroom at Kalakriti auditorium in Agra, while Lucknow has an abundance of chikan embroidered clothes.  


Diverse wildlife

My visit to Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary introduced me to cute sloth bears, who have been rescued from the pain and agony of being dancing bears. They played and roamed around like carefree children and their eyes longed for love.  


Mohabbat The Taj show

There couldn’t have been a better way to wind up a hectic day than with a show like Mohabbat The Taj, which narrates the love story behind the Taj Mahal. You can sit back and relax, while the delicate romance of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz enraptures you.


The scrumptious street food

The best way to taste Uttar Pradesh is through its street food – the gol gappas, the chats, the dahi bades and the lassis. Make sure you stop by to gorge on at least some of them to get that authentic UP essence. I can promise you that the taste will not just linger on your tongue, but it will stay in your heart forever.


The classical dance show

We had a treat in the form of some spectacular classical dances at Taj Hotel in Lucknow. I’d say it was one of the best glimpses of UP’s cultural heritage.


So are you ready to explore Uttar Pradesh?

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39 comments:

  1. Interesting things to do. Glad that you have mentioned points beyond the Taj and Fatehpur Sikri.

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    1. Yeah, I do think that Agra is beyond Taj and Fatehpur Sikri. You need time to explore it deeply.

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  2. Well covered Renuka ! The bear shot was wonderful.

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  3. Lovely photos and the food sounds amazing! Been to Lucknow on a work trip, so never got to see the city.

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    1. Chailtali, I think you should find an excuse to visit Lucknow again. You will love it!

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  4. Beautiful pictures Renuka ..I went to Agra when I was a kid and we just visited Taj and farehpur shikri .. Good to know that the place has so much to offer..

    http://thetalesofatraveler.com/2015/10/03/luxury-stay-at-the-grand-dragon-hotel-ladakh/

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    1. Yes, Uttar Pradesh certainly has so much more to offer.

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  5. Very nice photography . Interesting post .

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  6. I've been to Agra, but I'm yet to tick off Lucknow. Lovely, colourful post :)

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    1. I hope you make it to Lucknow soon.I'm sure you will love it. :-)

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  7. what a great post, filled with an amazing array of variety. As with the venerable Tim, I havent been to Lucknow yet.... does that make it Lucknotyet?

    sorry
    i have a penchant for puns that can't be stopped!

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    1. Hahaha! Great one, Andrew! Well, I hope you make it to Lucknow soon. :-)

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  8. Well written ...I think you should have also introduced the concept of "Ganjing" and the "Vikram " to the world coming from Lucknow :-)

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    1. Yeah...maybe :-) Thanks for suggesting!

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  9. Always enjoy reading all your posts. Everything described so beautiful. And lovely clicks as always. :)

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    1. Thanks Saumya :-) I hope my post inspired you to visit Lucknow and Agra.

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  10. You certainly had a great time Renuka - I too can never tire of Lucknow, the place has so much legacy and beauty. Agra is nice too, and so much under-explored...

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    1. Yep, I also think that Agra is so under-explored. It has so much to offer beyond the Taj Mahal.

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  11. Wow.. I relived the trip with the post... And some lovely captures...
    And of course now I know why you make a big Selfie Queen!

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    1. Thanks Manjulika! :-) Haha! Yeah, taking my own pictures is an art that I have mastered.

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  12. Took me back to some old memories of visiting the Taj Mahal in my early teens! Enjoyed the pictures a lot!

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  13. Agra - visited only once. Couldn't cover all places. After reading your posts and watching these awesome pictures, I'm feeling so compelled now to make another trip. This time, will discover all what you have mentioned. Wonderful post :)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm sure you will love Agra and Lucknow.

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  14. Great shots...I do plan to visit Taj soon :)

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  15. Wow! Lovely pics and post. Especially loved the rustic property :)
    Never seen Agra, but so want to now!

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    1. Yeah, even I loved the rustic property! You must visit it someday, Leena. :-)

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  16. It is beautiful... the taj mahal, the lake... the lovely food your eating too...yummy

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  17. loved the clicks...i have never bean to both places..i guess i need to plan a trip now..

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  18. Thanks a lot for introducing us to the beautiful places of Uttar Pradesh. The superb clicks capture the feel of the place. Your descriptive post talks about almost major things like the food, hotels, art and culture, thus showcasing its beauty to the world. Thanks so much Renuka!

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    1. You're welcome, Ayushi! Lucknow and Agra were a wonderful experience indeed!

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  19. Your photography is really amazing. you took very nice clicks which are showing beauty and culture of that place. keep it up and keep travelling to do more.

    Morning Dubai Desert Safari

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