I have already read about the Bara Imambara Lucknow and hence, was curious to know whether my imagination matched the historic facts or not. My exploring and adventurous nature responds to every challenge as if it was made for it. This is a place of worship, used by Shia Muslims. Its grandiose facade was enough to ensure me that it is a Lucknow treasure. With the Fishes motifs at the entrance, it was a real charm. Built in 1784, it is also known as Asafi Imambara, named after Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowhala of Awadh. Designed by architect Hafiz Kifayat-ullah, I learnt that it took 14 years for its completion.
The building complex consists of Asfi Mosque, gateways, courtyards and a bawali. Having a great historical importance, this splendid monument was built by the Nawab with a noble objective as a relief project to provide employment, food and water to its starving subjects as they were too proud to take charity. The Chronicles of history state that this draught continued to a decade and so the construction. For a photograph enthusiast like me, no place else could be better than this.
The style reflects Mughal design with Lakhanui bricks and lime plaster being used for construction without the usage of iron or wood. The main Imambara consist of a large arched chamber containing tomb of Nawab. To my surprise the hall with 170 Ft. length, 55 Ft. width and 50 Ft. height had no beam or girders to support the ceiling and is world’s largest arched construction of its type. The hall was spacious and the aesthetics amazed me. According to reports, there was not such place where the tomb of Nawab and the architect together stands as in here.
The main attraction of this place is Bhul-bhulayah (the Labyrinth) an incredible maze located on the upper floors of the monument leading through stairways. The scenic view of the whole city from this maze took my breath away. Without a guide anyone would have lost his way in maze with numerous labyrinth passages which support the weight of the building. It is said that great treasures are still hidden in the tunnels of this maze. It is a marvellous example of the Mughal Era architecture. The Bara Imambara Lucknow has been a wonderful experience but I was ready for my next destination Jama Masjid Lucknow.