Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 3
Now that you’ve read about my Day One & Day Two in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 3rd day.
Today was the highlight of my trip to Lucknow. I was slated to attend the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival (MSLF). My friend D was showcasing her silver jewelry brand, Daayita, & I was there to support her morally.
The Festival was to begin at 11 AM but I, being an early riser, was already up & about by 9. I thus chose to spend some time at Dilkusha Kothi, another of those lesser known attractions that my cabbie did not know about.
Dilkusha Kothi is in the cantonment area. Its entrance was wrongly pinned on Google Maps. It took me a couple of turns & finally asking a local before I could get to the gate. The gate too was chained & I had to ask again if entry was allowed.
Anyway, Dilkusha Kothi was another stunner that I am glad I got to visit. Magnificent is an inadequate term for it. It is historically important as it was destroyed during the First War of Independence.
Interestingly, Dilkusha Kothi was built by a British even though it was a hunting lodge for the Nawab. This explains its Baroque style, rather than an Indo – Islamic style. As with most other heritage structures in Lucknow, this too is constructed with lime mortar & Lakhauri bricks.
There is also a mansion adjacent to the Dilkusha Kothi, built in an Indo-European style. Both the buildings are set amidst lush gardens. Despite being a ruin, it still has a regal air. The Archeological Survey of India have restored it.
I was moved by its sight, for the events that took place here reminded me of the travails that our ancestors had faced.
Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival
I still had some time to kill before I could make my way to MSLF. The internet showed me Buttercup Bungalow (six minutes away) would be open for a cup of coffee but when I got there, I came to know that it had moved to Gomti Nagar.
I whiled away a few more minutes clicking pictures of the kitschy interiors of Cappuccino Blast & finally headed to MSLF which takes place at the Safed Baradari (3 kms from Cappuccino Blast).
The Safed Baradari has a Mughal architecture & is given out for public gatherings. It was initially constructed to be used as an Imambara. It was used for meetings during the First War of Indian Independence.
In the main hall of the Safed Baradari, I saw two statues – of Maharaja Mansingh & Digvijay Singh of Balrampur. Several movies have been shot here. The heritage structure does exude an old – world grandeur.
MSLF is held not just at the Safed Baradari but also at another historical monument called Salempur House. I find it difficult to not stop whenever I pass in front of history! Always the stories are more & the time, less. Always!
The theme of the 2023 MSLF was Raqs-o-Mausiqi. The Awadhi dance & music traditions are explored in depth through the festival. Awadh is the land of Thumri & Khayal, of Kathak, and of Sozkhwani & Marsiyakhwani!
In the MSLF, there are indigenous musical & dance performances as well as an experiential exhibition on the theme. It also has heritage walks to explore the unknown facets of Lucknow. I had signed up for a walk the next day & was quite excited for it.
MSLF also has craft stalls, a food festival, talks, films, & workshops. 100+ artisans & weavers display their crafts.
A Festival Within a Festival
I was fortunate to attend the Home Cooked Food Festival where Lucknow’s hidden culinary treasures became exposed – pulao, aloo – gosht, mustard fish, dhaage wale kabab… Toothsome!
This food festival is an annual outing for the home chefs of Lucknow. The number of participating chefs has increased over the years. In fact, participating here is considered an honor. While I love Awadhi cuisine available in the restaurants, I found the home – cooked fare splendid!
Nafasat & nazakat – on point!!
It was crazy to see the queue to buy tokens for food at the Home Cooked Food Festival. D had warned me about it, but I was still taken aback. It was only thanks to the regulars that I managed to get a token!
I saw a couple of live performances. It was heartening to see cultural admirers come together as a community. I also saw an equal space being given to the LGBTQ+ community. By the end of the day, I was exhausted but also exuberant that I got to participate in the cultural & heritage celebration of Lucknow.
The MSLF takes place in February every year. I encourage all my readers to explore this gala! There is something for everybody here!