There are several historical tourist places in Lucknow. Bada Imambara is a prominent historical monument in Lucknow. The Imambara was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784 and therefore, it is also known as Asafi Imambara. Asaf-ud-Daula was the fourth Nawab of Awadh. The purpose of building the Imambara was to help the famine-affected people in 1784. It is an important place of worship for Muslims especially during Muharram in Lucknow.
The Imambara contains the large Asafi mosque, the bhul-bhulaiya, and bowli with running water. It has two entrance points to the main hall. The Shia Muslims offer namaz on every Friday and the festival of Eid at the Asafi mosque.
The aim of the construction of Imambara to provide employment to the people affected by famine in the region during the late 18th Century. The cost of the construction of Bada Imambara is likely to be at about one crore rupees. The construction got completed in six years. After the construction, an expennse of about 4-5 lacs rupees was incurred for its maintenance, annually.
The design and architecture of the Imambara by Hafiz Kifayat-ullah, is based on a Mughal design. There is no iron or cement used in the structure. The main imambara contains a large vaulted central chamber including the grave of Nawab.
The main hall is about 162 feet in length and 53 feet in breadth with no supporting beams for 16 feet thick slab which is about 2, 00,000 tons. The roof is 50 feet from the ground. It is one of the largest arched structures of its kind in the world. At the top of the main hall, bhul-bhulaiyaa has 489 identical doorways, where strangers can easily get lost.
Bhul-Bhulaiyaa in Bada Imambada
Baoli in Bada Imambara
The Imambara has also a bowli which is 45 degrees angle from the main gate. The construction of bowli complex is situated over a water tank used to store water for the construction of the Imambara. You can see the reflection of the main gate in the bowli water and be prepared if there is an enemy at the main gate of bowli. This used to work like CCTV surveillance used nowadays.
If you plan a trip to Lucknow then visit Bada Imambara between October and March as the the winter season is the best time to be in Lucknow.