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Curious Tales of Bara Imambara in Lucknow

By Akshatha Vinayak

Bara Imambara is one of the major landmarks of Lucknow. It was built under the rule of Asaf-ud-Daula , the Nawab of Awadh region. Bara Imambara is a shrine built by the Shia Muslims for the purpose of Muharram rituals.

The structure is a monument due to its architectural finesse and one of its kind in India. This historical place is a must visit in the capital city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. Significant factors of this architecture are the mazes and the unsupported ceiling. Hence, it becomes a one-of-its-kind building under Uttar Pradesh tourism.

History

History

In 1784, the Awadh region was struck by a big famine. The Nawab came up with a plan to provide work for all people at that time. Hence, Bara Imabara is also called as Asafi Imambara.

Photo Courtesy: Amritamitraghosh

History

History

It is believed that it took 11 years to complete Bara Imambara. Around 20,000 men were part of building this magnificent structure. The shrine saw the completion in 1791 and the famine also ended during that time.

Photo Courtesy: Aggarwalmanish191

History

History

Nawab had to distribute work to all classes (poor, working and elite) of people. So he planned that the poor and working class of people would build the structure in the morning. In the evening, the men of elite class would destroy the work which was done that day. An interesting way ensuring work for everyone.

Photo Courtesy: Aj.for.arjun

Main Structures Inside

Main Structures Inside

The complex has big gateways, Asafi Mosque, Bhool-Bhulaiya (a corridor of mazes), Bawli/Baoli (step well) and courtyards. Bara Imambara also consists of 3 halls named the China Hall, the Persian Hall and the Kharbooza Hall. It is said that the Nawabs used to hold meetings in these halls.

Photo Courtesy: Derek Keats

Asafi Mosque

Asafi Mosque

It is building which has the tomb dedicated to the Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. It is a beautiful structure located on the west side of Imambara. It is also place which gets many Muslim devotees. It is built only in the Mughal style of architecture without any European influence.

Photo Courtesy: Knath

Bada Imambara

Bada Imambara

The most prominent part of the complex is this structure. It neither has a doom or a minaret but is constructed only with the help of arched doors, windows and corridors. Bada Imabara is one of the its kind because its whole weight is balanced without the support of pillars or beams to support the ceilings.

Photo Courtesy: Rashid Abbas Ansari

Bhool-Bhulaiya ( the labyrinth)

Bhool-Bhulaiya ( the labyrinth)

Bhool-Bhulaiya (the corridor of mazes) is just above the Imambara. Bhool-Bhulaiya is one of the major elements which gives support to the pillarless building. It is a network of passages with identical doorways and staircases. Tourists have to go here only with a professional guide, otherwise there are chances of getting lost.

Photo Courtesy: Faizhaider

The Acoustics of Bhool-Bhulaiya

The Acoustics of Bhool-Bhulaiya

Apart from the identical passages and doorways, Bhool-Bhulaiya has an amazing acoustics. A person whispering at one end of the passage can be heard from a person on another side. Even the light in one of the these balconies can be seen from other sides. Hence, this corridor of mazes is the most interesting kind.

Photo Courtesy: Aditya Akolkar

Bawli/Baoli ( Step Well)

Bawli/Baoli ( Step Well)

Shahi Bawli is a step well with bathrooms surrounding it. Shahi Bawli situated on the eastern side has an interesting architecture as well. If you stand on the eastern side of the well, you can see an image of a person in the water who is approaching the well.

Photo Courtesy: Faizhaider

Rumi Darwaja

Rumi Darwaja

Rumi Darwaja is one of the prominent landmarks of Lucknow. It is a gate which has an intricate structure and the top of the gate provides an amazing view of the Gomti river. Now the terrace of the gate is not open to public. Rumi Darwaja is also called as the Turkish Gate and the name 'Rumi' comes because it was built by workers from Rome.

Photo Courtesy: Aditya somani

Materials Used For the Building

Materials Used For the Building

It is so exciting that such creative and beautiful structure is built without any modern tools. Imambara is mainly built with a particular frame of bricks and the roof is said to be made of rice husk.

Photo Courtesy: Varun Shiv Kapur

Legend

Legend

A popular legend is that there are many underground passages which lead to the cities of Delhi, Faizabad and Allahabad. There is also a passage which leads to the Gomti river. However, all these are sealed from a long time and no one knows whether they actually exist.

Photo Courtesy: Vineet katiyar

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