Sprinkled with exceptional British Raj–era buildings, boasting two superb mausoleums and famed throughout India for its food, the capital of Uttar Pradesh is something of a sleeper: plenty worth seeing, but often overlooked by travellers. Central Lucknow features wide boulevards, outsized monuments and several parks and gardens, but feels a bit worn out, creating an atmosphere of tired grandiosity. Locals tend to be welcoming, and you'll experience little of the hassle of more touristy towns.
The city rose to prominence as the home of the Nawabs of Avadh (Oudh) who were great patrons of the culinary and other arts, particularly dance and music. Lucknow’s reputation as a city of culture, gracious living and rich cuisine has continued to this day – the phrase for which conveniently rhymes in Hindi: Nawab,aadaab ('respect'), kebab and shabab ('beauty').