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BUY: CENTURIES OF CRAFT PATRONAGE

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Lucknow’s swish commercial areas like Janpath and Hazratganj offer you no-fuss shopping, but wandering through Lucknow’s local markets and negotiating at whole sale `gaddi’s‘ can be quite an experience. Here are a few must-buy’s that simply have to make it into your suitcase before you leave town.

The ephemeral Lucknow Chikankari: Craft doyenne Laila Tyabji writes in an essay that the wispy chikankari embroidery of Lucknow traces distant origins to the white on white embroidery of Shiraz in Persia. Persian poets, she says, used the word `chikan’ as a metaphor for `needle’. Beloved of the Mughals, this delicate needlework on fine cotton muslin is believed to have been conceived by the enterprising Empress Noor Jehan (she of the ittr distilling fame) while making an Eid Topi (cap) for her husband, the mighty Mughal Emperor Jehangir.

Shadow Work embroidery
Shadow Work embroidery

The wholesale chikankari shops of Chowk offer great bargains, but you need the sensibilities of a homing pigeon to know where to go and how to buy. Every Lucknowi you know is sure to have a favourite retailer but if you’re out on your own and can’t tell the difference between zardosi, metal spangled badla mukaish, murri, chikankari or shadow work embroidery, here are a few established retailers you can count on:

SEVA Chikan,  is always a safe bet for high quality, affordable options.  Ada Designer Chikan Studio takes price points and creativity a notch higher. Kotwara by Meera and Muzaffar Ali  elevate the craft form into objects of desire.

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TOKENS AND TAKEAWAYS: Gifts for yourself and special people.

Jadau &Meenakari jewellery: Traditionalists head to Lachminrain Pannalal, but you can also look out for affordable costume jewellery options that are widely available in the local markets.

Ittr shopping: Let pulse points beat a little faster at the two centuries old perfumers M/s Alam Ali Azam Ali at Fatima Manzil New Hyderabad, Lucknow 226007 P: +91 522 2780269 or buy boxes of jasmine scented incense cones from Izhar & Sonsnear Akbari Gate to take back as gifts.

Book browsing: Delve into a fine world of Urdu literature and poetry at Khurshid Book DepotShop No-113/4, Old Medicine Market, Aminabad, Lucknow – 226018

Pickles and Condiments: Must buy-stuffed red chilly achaar (pickle) at Arora’s Achar Shop near the Police Chowki, Aminabad Rd. +91 522 245 0859

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LOCAL MARKETS: Walk through the narrow lanes of Nepali Toli, Bagh Tola and the flower filled Phoolwali Gali in the old city. If you have time to spare, head to the local markets; Gadbadjhala, Aminabad, Chowk. Jostle with pushy aunties for the best bargains and beat retailer prices to the ground.

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ITINERARY: LUCKNOW SHEHER: Native Place Travel Guides on Pinterest: Create your own must-see, must do local itinerary here.

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NEED TO KNOW: Bargain! Bargain! Bargain!

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