Open Time: 6:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Cost: Indians: INR 25,
Foreigners: INR 500
(inclusive of Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara, Picture Gallery and Shahi Hamam)
The Bara Imambara of Lucknow is one of the most famous monuments of the city. Also known as Asfi Imambara, after the name of the Nawab of Lucknow who got it constructed, it is an important place of worship for the Muslims who come here every year to celebrate the religious festival of Muharram. The Imambara is primarily known for its incredible maze, known as Bhul Bhulaiya locally, which is located on the upper floor of the monument.
This beautiful, splendid building was built by 4th Nawab of Awadh - Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula and the construction work began in the year 1784. It took over 14 years to complete and was designed by the architect Hafiz Kifayat Ullah and Shahjahanabadi, prominent architects of that time. The estimated cost of constructing this grand monument is speculated to be between half a million rupees to a million rupees. Even after the construction was completed, the Nawab used to spend four to five thousand rupees annually on its decoration.
The story behind this massive centre is based on a very noble cause. During the 18th century, a devastating famine struck the Awadh Estate, making the Nawab think of a plan to provide food for his starving subjects. He decided to make them construct magnificent buildings which would, in turn, provide them with employment, and hence food. This is how the idea of Food-for-Work was implemented. This basic and yet efficient concept is still prevalent in India.
The architecture of Bara Imambara is inspired from the ornamented Mughal design, named the Badshahi Mosque. This is one of the last projects not incorporating the use of irons or any European elements. The central hall of the Imambara is said to be the largest arched hall in the world. What makes its construction unique is that no woodwork has been used in the entire structure (except the galleries). The blocks have been put together with the interlocking system of bricks, and the roof stands upright without any pillars to support it.
The Bara Imambara can be accessed through two large gateways, at one end of which lies the grand Asafi Mosque, on the other side is the large baori. Beyond the small entrance, to the left of the central hall, lies the intriguing labyrinth leading to the Bhul Bhulaiya which is the major attraction here. It is an enticing network of narrow passageways winding its way inside the upper floor of the monument's structure, eventually leading to the rooftop. The panoramic view of the City of Nawab from the roof is spectacular enough to take your breath away.
Beyond the Bara Imambara is the imposing and unusual gateway called the Rumi Darwaza. It is believed to be a copy of the entrance gate in Istanbul. It is named Rumi Darwaza as Rumi is the term Muslims applied to Istanbul when it was still located in the Byzantine Empire. Across the road is a beautiful white mosque, the Tila Wali Masjid. It is a deceptively shallow building constructed in 1680. Its interior is periodically repainted with unique designs. The roof of the Imambara is made up of rice husk which makes this structure unique.
You can opt for buses, taxis, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws to reach Bara Imambara from any part of Lucknow. The local bus can be taken from the Alambagh bus stand which will directly take you to the Imambara.
1. Being a religious place, tourists are expected to cover their heads with proper clothes before entering the Imambara. These cloths are available at the main gate. You also need to take off your shoes before entering the shrine.
2. Carry a torch with you for exploring the baori and the Bhul Bhulaiya.
3. It is advised to hire a guide to prevent from getting lost in the Bhul Bhulaiya. The guide will explain each structure in great detail.
3 months ago by gauranshi srivastava
The Bara Imambara is a part of the heritage walk in Lucknow. I visited the place in November which is a pleasant time in Uttar Pradesh. Winter is the best season to explore the heritage walk of the city. Definitely visit the Chhota Imambada and chowk nearby and indulge in exquisite Lucknawi cuisine and chikankari. Having a guide will help since the Imamabada is famous for its labyrinth. The monument is huge with a large number of staircases, so it would be a good idea to carry water with you.
3 months ago by ??? ????????
An awesome and historical place to visit. This is such a beautiful building and view of garden is fantabulous! Just loved it. If one wants to see the beauty of Lucknow, this is the best place for that.
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