When you are in Lucknow and creating a priority list of things to do, Bada Imambada is something you should keep on top. This Photo Journey is sharing some photographs of Bada Imambada with appropriate reasons visiting it, even when you have very less time in hand.
Some time back I was in Lucknow for a wedding and thought of moving out for some time. After talking to friends in Lucknow, looking at city map I thought of going straight to Bada Imambada and keep my plan flexible.
One of the main reasons to visit Bada Imambada was it's popularity which exposes you to beautiful architecture & gives you a sense of the city through people who visit this place. Lot of folks come to this place, you meet interesting guides at this place and has a small market at entry gate where you can buy some souvenirs.
Lot of activities happen around this area of the city, through which you get better understanding of the place, it's residents, culture and lot more which we never expect from such places in an Indian city. To my surprise, Lucknow was quite different than what I had imagined and it kept me surprised on regular basis.
Auto-Rikshaw is one of the best ways to explore the city. Various parts of Lucknow city are connected well through buses, shared/private Auto-Rickshaws & rickshaws. One needs to negotiate well with Auto-Rickshaw people but definitely the negotiation process is quite happy as compared to Delhi/Noida :). As Lucknow is know for 'tehzeeb', you can clearly see that people in city are polite and sensible. Although you always find exceptions, if you have a bad day.
Another reason for choosing Bada Imambada is - Bhool-Bhulaiyaa. Bhool Bhulaiya is located inside Bada imambada campus, which is one of the main places to explore in Lucknow city. This is very interesting place which shouldn't be explored with any guide :). Yes, you read it right. The real fun lies in going inside bhool bhulaiya without any guide and try to figure out your way out. It can be difficult & frustrating when you always lead to wrong path, but it's fun and you feel like winner when you come out of it. We didn't hire any guide and went indie Bhool bhulaiya. After a while we were frustrated by the fact and everyone inside the Bhool bhulaiya was telling wrong path and situations were not even better when you don't follow anyone. But soon after to crack the logic and come out of it. There is a thumb rule, which I don't want to share on this blog. So just visit yourself and have fun. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land.
Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also known as Asafi Imambada, but people hardly recognize this name except few from the city. Bara means big, and an imambada is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bara Imambada is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow city and probably state as well.
Bara Imambada a huge campus which is well maintained, in my opinion. I liked the way cleanness is maintained and authorities maintain some rules to keep it clean and maintained.
There are different type of tickets for entry inside Bada Imambada. We took 50 Rs ticket, which included everything inside the campus - Bhool Bhualaiyaa, Asfi Mosque, a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy, Shahi Bawli, Domed Chamber, Hallways, Rumi Darwaja, Tazia & Zari.
Asfi Mosque looks similar to Jama Masjid in Delhi, but it was closed when we visited. Not sure, if it was temporary thing or mosque remains closed.
It's quite inspiring to know that Nawab started to build this campus for providing work and food to folks around this region. It seems that Bada Imambada was built just because to provide some work to folks for earning food for their families.
Above photograph shows a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy. This is located just below Bhool Bhulaiya on the ground floor. One needs to take of shoes to go inside. It's one of the most colorful and well maintained part of Bada Imambada. This part of the campus is very well lit with colorful lights.
Above photograph shows main mosque on the left and gateway on right. This gateway takes visitors inside the main campus and there is a road on the other side which goes to Chhota Imambada.
There is a huge area in front of Bhool Bhulaiya, where families & friends like to sit down and enjoy the view of mosque, gardens and other things in Bada Imambada campus.
One can see some guides burning a matchbox stick at the other end of the balconies that have openings to the Central Hall. It's another significant and architectural art in Bada Imambada campus. You can listen the sound of a match stick at the other end of the hall. It is really interesting and seems unbelievable. There are many interesting things about the place and local guides play a good role in helping you exploring all this. If you happen to hire a guide, don't take his help in Bhool bhulaiya unless you are extremely frustrated.
A beautiful view of Mosque & main gate from Bhool Bhulaiya. Top of Bhool bhulaiya offers bird's eye view of monuments, the Roomi Darwaja, the Gates, Asifi Masjid, Clock Towers, Laxman Tila Masjid, Gomti river and the busy streets of Lucknow city.
Chhota Imambada is visible from roof-top of Bhool-bhulaiya. We didn't have much time so preferred to visit Ganj instead of going towards Chhota Imambada.
A caution - If you plan to explore the city using Auto, make sure that you don't change your plans as per information provided by them. Like other tourist destinations, Auto-walas try to take you to shops to earn some commission out of your purchase. We also ended up buying some stuff from lucknow because of our Auto-wala who took us to Ganj after Bada Imambada.
Asafi Masjid which you can see in above photograph has sculptured domes and minarets. This mosque provides a most beautiful sight. If you are in Lucknow on Friday, make sure that you plan your visit when thousands of folks come here for namaz.
Shahi Bawli is another interesting place inside this campus. This royal well is just opposite to the mosuqe. One can go downstairs to see the well with blue water on surface and the bathrooms constructed around the well on ground, first and second floors of the Well. Above photograph shows water in the middle of this well with mutual-layered building around it. If you have a look from one side of the well, you can see in the water - the image of person approaching the well. Different guide service can be availed at Bawli, although one can notice this easily.
I really enjoyed this short visit to Bada Imambada and some walk around the place.