Weather :

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indians: INR 25,
Foreign Nationals: INR 300

Timings : 6:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Chota Imambara, Lucknow Overview

The Chhota Imambara, or the Imambara of Hussainabad, is one of the most beautiful and attractive buildings in the old city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh in India. This imposing monument lies to the west of Bara Imambara and is a true sight to behold. The Chhota Imambara was initially a congregation hall for Shia Muslims that was built by Muhammad Ali Shah, who was the third Nawab of Awadh, in the year 1838. The Imambara was to serve as his own mausoleum as well as that of his mother, who is buried beside him in this prestigious monument. The Imambara is beautifully adorned with decorations and chandeliers at the time of special festivals, especially Muharram. In fact, this 19th-century building is also referred to as the 'Palace of Lights' by European visitors and writers because of the profuse decorations of the monument at specific events.

It is a beautiful amalgam of Charbagh, Indo-Islamic and Persian structural and architectural designs. The exterior of the temple is complete with Quranic verses which are written in Islamic calligraphy on the walls of the monument. However, it is not just the exterior of the Imambara which catches the fancy of the eager visitors. Even the interiors of the monument are designed and maintained with intricate details and utmost care.

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History Of Chota Imambara

Lucknow, earlier known as Awadh, witnessed famine a few times in the early 19th century. Consequently, the agricultural economy broke down, and the labourers and farmers were all poverty stricken. They were finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet, so finally, Muhammad Ali Shah, the then Nawab of Awadh, decided to sanction the building of the Chhota Imambara. This decision was taken with the objective of offering the distressed with some work so that they could manage to earn a decent living. The construction of the monument was finally completed in the year 1837.

Architecture of Chota Imambara

Architecturally, the Chota Imambara is considered to be a more magnificent wonder than its bigger counterpart, the Bara Imambara. With its baroque carvings and exquisite calligraphy, the Chota Imambara surpasses every other heritage structure in Lucknow. The magnificent structure has been inspired by the design of the Charbagh pattern, with a single stream running through the centre of the garden. It is an amalgamation of the elements of Persian and Indo-Islamic styles of architecture.

The interiors of this artistic monument are decorated with delicate Arabic glass work and calligraphy. Ornately designed with a gilded golden dome, exquisite chandeliers specially brought from Belgium, colourful stuccos and gilt-edged mirrors, this attraction is an architectural dream which has been breathed life into.

The five doorways of the Chhota Imambara emphasize the significance of 'Panjetan' or the holy five. The Imambara comprises of two halls and a Shehnasheen, which is a platform where the Zarih of Imam Husain is kept. The large green and white bordered hall of Azakhana is richly decorated with chandeliers and a good number of crystal glass lamp-stands.

The monument houses the tomb of Muhammad Ali Shah as well as four graves; of the son, daughter, son in law and of the lady. This structure thus becomes a small-scale copy of the majestic Taj Mahal. The walls are adorned with Arabic calligraphy and never fail to please onlookers. The water bodies and fountains inside the Imambara get water supply from the River Gomti.

The Husainabad Mosque which can also be found inside the main monument is constructed on a raised platform with two grand minarets on the edge of the platform. The mosque is decorated beautifully and intricately with floral designs and Quranic Calligraphy.

The Satkhanda at Chota Imambara

The watchtower, which is also known as Satkhanda, or the tower of seven stories, is located just outside the Imambara. Even though the structure is known as Satkhanda, it has only four storeys, since the construction of the building had to be abandoned when Ali Shah passed away. Satkhanda was built between 1837 and 1842, in the time of Muhammad Ali Shah, who wanted to make the structure similar to the Qutub Minar of Delhi.

Tips For Visiting Chota Imambara

1. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed inside the mosque located within the monument complex.
2. Tourists are advised to start their tour with the Bara Imambara, and then visit the Chhota Imambara later on. You can club your visit with nearby locations such as Jama Masjid, Clock Tower and Rumi Darwaza.
3. It is a wise idea to seek the help of a guide which is available for a minimum rate of Rs 20 onwards in the monument.

How To Reach Chota Imambara

Located in the Daulatganj area, you can reach this monument by hiring a rickshaw or cab from any part of the Lucknow city.

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