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Fallen off the tourist map: Ruing Lucknow’s lost potential Feb 11, 2012

After spending the last two days in Lucknow at a wedding, I am apalled at how low its touristic value seems to be. Of the 20 odd people who visited Lucknow for the wedding (and some from as far as Dubai and the UK), only a handful ventured out of the resort. The few who did made it to Hazrat Ganj, the city’s infamous shopping street to shop for ‘chikankari’ fabrics and saris that are what Lucknow is best known for.
Maybe I was in the wrong crowd, maybe my parents were unusual in their tastes, but I have many fond memories of showing scores of visitors the ‘sights’ in Lucknow as a high school kid. The sights were the bada imambara (that boasts of a labyrinth on its upper floors), roomi darwaza, chhota imambara and the residency. We usually stopped at Ganj on the way back to give visitors some shopping time.
Noone I spoke to at the wedding even acknowledged Lucknows enormous historic and cultural significance; its legacy as the capital of Avadh, which was one of the principle kingdoms in North India and a bastion of the Shia Muslims. One of the visitors from abroad had someone at Delhi airport ask them why they were visiting Lucknow at all? Clearly and I know this from other experiences as well, this lovely city has dropped off the tourist map.
I see the lack of awareness as a result of extremely poor marketing. There is no desire to develop the city from a tourism perspective and bring in revenue. For a city that is (or at least was once upon a time) famed for its culture hospitality, etiquette and art this is a sad come down. And another reminder that governments can destroy by sheer sloth in a few decades what it took centuries to create!

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