Bara Imambara – A Monument Of Hidden Tales 380

The famous Bara Imambara in Lucknow hides within itself an enduring collection of facts and tales that everyone should know.

Hundreds of tourists visit the Bara Imambara every day. It is the most famous tourist attraction in the city of Lucknow. If you are a tourist and first-time visitor to this land of Awadh Nawabs, then visiting the Bara Imambara should be on the top spot of your go to list.

The grand Bara Imambara complex is essentially religious in nature. It is used by Shia Muslims to perform azadari (Moharram mourning and rituals). 

Let’s know more about this magnificent monument. 

  1. History of Bara Imambara
  2. Facts For Tourists
  3. Forgotten Tales
  4. What Visitors Say

1. History of Bara Imambara

This huge complex was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula between 1786-91. Besides the Bara Imambara, the complex has a grand mosque called the Asafi Masjid and Shahi Baoli. It is said that this architectural wonder was built by the Nawab to help people during the famine that prevailed in Awadh at that time. The Nawab helped people get employment for all those years the famine continued in his province. Both nobles and common men in the province got support from the Nawab.

About 20,000 people were employed by the Nawab in the building of the Bara Imambara. The ordinary citizen would build the monument during the day. The elite (who were also in misery due to the famine) brought down the Bara Imambara at night. This continued for about 11 years.

2. Facts For Tourists

– The Bara Imambara was designed by Kifayatullah, an architect from Delhi whose design was approved by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula.

– The Bara Imambara has many underground passages which have been blocked or closed. 

– There is a steep staircase outside the Bara Imambara which leads to the Bhool Bhulaiyya or maze on the rooftop of the monument. It is advised not to enter the Bhool Bhulaiyya without a seasoned guide, as you can lose your way inside.  

– Couples are not allowed inside the Bara Imambara and Bhool Bhulaiyya without a guide. 

– This is a religious monument so you need to take off your footwear before entering the Bara Imambara or going up to the Bhool Bhulaiyya.

– There are three big halls inside called — China Hall, Persian Hall and the Kharbooza Hall.

– The monument is inspired by Persian and Mughal infrastructure.

– The roof of the Bara Imambara is built without the support of beams or pillars.

– Bhool Bhulaiyya located above the Bara Imambara carries sound clearly through its walls, even from 50 meters away.

– The monument has an arched ceiling; however, the rooftop is flat.

– Bara Imambara is open from sunrise to sunset. The entry ticket is Rs 25/- (Indians) and Rs 500/- (foreigners)

– From the Bara Imambara’s rooftop, you can see the Rumi Gate, the Gomti river, Teele Wali Masjid, Chhota Imambara and the Ghanta Ghar.

3. Forgotten Tales

The Bara Imambara has a few interesting tales that guides will tell you willingly. 

Missing Soldiers: There is a passage in the Bara Imambara that leads to underground tunnels. In addition these tunnels are said to go up to Delhi, Faizabad, and Allahabad. However, the British government sealed those tunnels after some of their soldiers went looking for royal treasure there. The soldiers never came back from the tunnels.  

– Treasure Key: There is also a Shahi Baoli in the complex. This baoli was the source of water that was used during the construction of the monument. However the story goes that a Dewan employed by the Nawabs had jumped into the baoli with the key to the royal treasure. He wanted to save that treasure from the hands of the British. 

4.Feedback of Visitors

Visitors from India and abroad visit the Bara Imambara daily to marvel at the magnificence of the monument. In addition visitors have called it “magnificent”, “superb place”, “beautiful place to visit” and “fascinating”. Some have even mentioned that this is a “historical monument with unique roof and unique sound effects”.

You can read more such heartfelt feedback of visitors to Bara Imambara here (Link:

Do visit this mesmerizing monument in Lucknow that has now become almost a synonym for “generosity” shown by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. 

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