There are many things that Lucknow is known for- being the city of Nawabs, the exceptional food culture, rich history and the majestic monuments. If there's one monument that has the ability to define Lucknow, it is the Bada Imambada.
Bada Imambada or the 'Bigger residence of Imam' is a peacock feather in Lucknow's very ornate cap. The monument, its grandeur, its cultural significance and the stories surrounding it are as interesting at the city itself.
A testament to the glorious culture of this quaint city, Bada Imambada tells a tale of grandiose, good-will, religion and philanthropy woven together.
Tale as old as time- a Nawab, a famine & a monument
The Bada Imambaa was constructed in the time of the late Nawab of Lucknow 'Asaf-Ud-Daulah'. A famous story in the region tells the tale of the time and the circumstances in which the monument was built.
It is famed that during the time of Asaf-Ud-Daulah, an extremely generous and loving Nawab, Awadh was struck by a huge famine. In order to ensure that none of his subjects go hungry, the nawab decided on constructing a huge ibadatghar, or a 'place of worship.
It is also said that the Nawab had employed two sects of population in the building process of the Bada Imambada- the working class and the elite. While the workers built the formidable structure at night, the elite would come and destroy what they had made. Ensuring that the construction was a long drawn process and workers get paid for every single day's work. Hence, it took 11 years to complete the monument which gave employment to 20,000 men at the time!
The architectural grandeur
Bada Imambada is a beautiful specimen of Mughlai architecture, untouched by the European style that is quite visible at other places in the city. There are many wonderful things about the architecture of the Bara Imambara including the fact that the monument includes a mausoleum of Asaf-Ud-Daulah, a main hall which is used for religious gatherings by Shia muslims and a labyrinth on the upper floors.
It is famed that there are 1024 ways to get inside the maze but only 2 to get out of it.
The Bada Imambada is an architectural marvel since there's no use of wood, wooden pillars, beams or metal in the entire building. The whole structure stands on the many small & large windows, doorframes and the gateways built to confuse the beholder.
It is also said that there are several tunnels leading away from the monument which, if followed will oust the travellers in wilderness and even the cities of Delhi and Allahabad.
Bada Imambada is one of the most famous places in the city. While the maze is what most people know about the place Imambada, it is not all that you'll find attractive. The Bada Imambada complex houses the Asifi Masjid, the Bhool Bhulaiya, the Baoli or the step-well the royal females used for bathing and lush gardens.
There's much to see and experience at the Bada Imambada complex, so take a trip there, have a small picnic and be awash with a rush of pride and nostalgia.