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ASI buckles up to revive the 19th-century Shahnajaf Imambara in Lucknow

This monument was was built by Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar, the first emperor of Awadh in 1816-1817

What once towered proudly as the Shahnajaf Imambara in Lucknow's Hazratganj area, is in a dilapidated situation since years. Falling plaster, cracked columns and damaged interiors enunciate the negligence meted to it through the years, to a point where it stands as a dilapidated edifice- marring the heritage of Awadh. This surely has gathered the attention of the Hussainabad Allied Trust and ASI, who have joined hands to resurrect the monument as a vortex into the golden past of the city.


The onion-domed Imambara of Lucknow

Built in 1816-1817 by the first emperor of Awadh, Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar, the marble furnished structure was erected as a token of devotion for Hazrat Ali. It was later used as a mausoleum to house the grave of the emperor and his three wives.

A characteristic specimen of the Mughal school of Architecture in Lucknow, the Shahnajaf Imambara is famous for its nuanced onion-shaped dome. Unlike other monuments of this era, this structure is topped by a bubbled roof that is much broader and wide. With doorways on either side and an expansive garden at the front, this imambara knew how to attract its fair share of inquisitive tourists, until the tear of time decided otherwise.

The ruins of Shahnajaf Imambara

The battered Shahnajaf Imambara in Lucknow's Hazratganj area, stands in very poor condition now. The sturdy outer walls of the mausoleum now feature uprooted plaster and breakage while the moulding of its distinguished dome has also fallen to shambles. Besides, now cuts and cracks are adding to the troubles; they allow rainwater to seep through raising fears against the dampening of the overarching structure along with damage to the chandeliers and other valuables kept here.

In the past, Maulana Yasoob Abbas, General Secretary and Spokesperson of All India Shia Personal Law Board, while inspecting the imambara, expressed displeasure over the rundowns here. He demanded an early launch of conservation work at the site. At the same time, Princess Farhana Maliki has also urged the Chief Minister and ASI to protect the Imambara, with urgency.

Preserving & restoring the glory of Awadh

Now, the Hussainad Trust in-charge, Kishuk Srivastava, informed that the committee launched a joint investigation, with the Archaeological Survey of India, at the monument site. He stated that he understands the responsibility of preserving the building of historical and religious importance and has resultantly enrolled the ASI to conduct restoration work. The Survey Department has been given 3 months to complete the repair work, he added. At present, the debris in the building is being removed.

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