Bara Imambara

Bara Imambara: The engineering marvel of Mughal Empire

Creating a lyrical prose amidst the copper-red sky of Lucknow, Bara Imambara is an artistic congregation hall, oscillating between being a mosque or a mausoleum. Constructed by the fourth Nawab of Awadh, it survives in phenomenal ways?narratives, photographs and imaginations. Even today, Shia Muslims from different parts of the world, assemble here for mourning (Azadari) during the festival of Muharram.

One of the reasons why Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula started off its construction was to support the livelihood of natives, jeopardised due to the famines. The decade long famine, which if continued would have created innumerable penniless victims, was eventually saved by the construction of this historical monument in Uttar Pradesh.

But the exemplary story of its excellence doesn’t end here. The Delhi based architect Kifayatullah was selected after a competitive process. Thus, 1784 witnessed the beginning of this decade long construction, completed finally in 1791. In a gesture for honouring the outstanding architect, today his tomb rests next to the tomb of the Nawab, right within the spacious courtyards of congregation hall.

Ornamented Mughal designs further elaborate its lyrical structure, embellished with floral designs and blend of Arabic as well as European architecture. In fact, the Bara Imambara Travel Guide reveals that it is one of the largest arched constructions in the world. In fact, its ceiling is made of rice husk. Additionally, the central hall is constructed with beams and girders rather than pillars. Definitely, it is one of the marvels of engineering, standing testimony to the passage of time.

Along with these exemplary attributes, the labyrinth passages, almost 1000 of them, leading to dead ends or 489 gateways, make a confounding ‘Bhul Bhulaiya’ in the Bara Imambara. Constructed above the congregation hall, it was constructed more as a supporting structure rather than an enticing touristy feature.


Following are the tourist attractions of Bara Imambara


Asafi Mosque

Named after the fourth Nawab of Lucknow, the mosque was also built in 1784. Till date, it is known as one of the most important monuments of Lucknow. It is also called as Shahi Masjid. Mughal architecture and tall minarets add beauty to its construction.


Rumi Darwaza

Often also called as the Tukish Gate, this imposing architectural structure is 60 feet tall. It is lauded as one of the first gateways to be built in Lucknow. An octagonal chattri is embellished over the top of this staggering gate. It reveals the finesse of Awadhi architecture. It emulates the designing of the famous gate Sublime Porte in Istanbul. History reveals that it once used to serve the entrance of Lucknow.


Shahi Baoli

Colloquially called as the step-well cum royal-bath, this impressive structure also has several bathrooms artistically designed in it. It speaks about the architectural art and finesse practised during the time of Nawab. It is elegantly divided into three floors.


So, gear on for exploring more unknown facets about the captivating structure of Bara Imambara. Exploration never ends here. For example, did you know that there are underground passages constructed from it, leading to Allahabad, Gomti River and even New Delhi?


In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter who you are? An intrepid traveller or a neophyte! Exploring the different trajectories of Bara Imambara tourism would be definitely an enriching experience, forever!

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