Calling Lucknow a city of Nawabs is not erroneous when you will roam around the galleries of this historical place.
Bara Imambara, a majestic monument in Lucknow is a true witness to the famous Ganga-Jamuna culture of Awadh. This place is a perfect example of the magnificent engineering of the Mughal Period (Mughaliya Kalakari) built by Nawab Asif Uddaullah. The responsibility to accomplish this great project was given to an engineer named Kifayatullah (hired from Iran).
This historical monument has four important structures
- A Mosque; Masjid
- A Royal Well; Bouli
- A Labyrinth; Bhool-Bhulaiya
- The Imambara; Place where the Imam (priest) lives
Building the Place:
It is said that the objective of Asif Uddaullah to embark this grandiose project was to provide employment for people in the region for almost a decade while the famine lasted. Almost 2500 workers used to build this during the day and another 2500 workers undid the day’s work during the night. After 11 years in 1784 this was finally completed.
The builders of this great monument did not use a single piece of iron or cement, rather, the ingredients used will make you go into astonishment. Limestones, wood apple pulp, honey, jaggery, tragacanth gum, sugarcane juice, black lentils, pigeon pea and buckwheat, that’s all this Imambara is built of.
Entering the structures:
Imambara and the Masjid
There is a Mimbar-e-Rasool means the throne upon which the maulvi sat during the prayer. There are 3 halls present within the Imambara
- China Hall: The design of this hall is inspired by Chinese architecture.
- Indian Hall: The design of this Indian hall is inspired from an Indian fruit; Musk melon.
- Persian Hall (Main Hall): This hall is 163 ft long and 54 ft high, the roof of the hall resembles the design of a cup-tray. If you stand on one side of the hall and the other person lights a matchstick from the other side of the hall, you will be able to hear that sound very clearly. In this very hall is the tomb of the Nawab Asif Uddaullah.
The Bhool Bhullaiya
This labyrinth is a matrix of 1000 doors and passages with just one same entry and exit passage. There is an underground tunnel through which the Nawab used to travel Agra and Delhi, folklore hold that it extends out till Kolkata.
When there was no technology of camera during the period of Nawab Asif Uddaullah, engineers created an alternative keeping the security purpose in mind. The water inside of the bouli acts like a mirror reflecting a clear image of the possible intruders. The soldiers of Nawab wore black uniform and sit in the dark, thus becoming invisible to be spotted. However, they could easily spot the red dressed English soldiers. There is a royal well inside the bouli into which Mewalal, one of the trusted persons jumped with the keys of the treasure to keep it safe and now the treasure is still buried inside somewhere.
Exploring this beauty is a satisfaction to eyes and soul, while travelling around the capital of Uttar Pradesh, never miss a chance to visit this magnificent art work.