Monday, 26 June 2017

Asafi Imambara, Lucknow

Asafi Imambara

Main hall of the Imambara

The Asafi Masjid and the Asafi Imambara, the latter commonly known as the Bada Imambara, constitute the main attraction for the faithful as well as tourists alike, in the old city areas of Lucknow.

Describing the grandeur of the Imambara is a difficult task,  given its scale in building as well as the intricacy in embellishment. Designed by a Delhi architect, the Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula's contribution to the architectural and cultural history of the kingdom, it continues to serve the community since 1791 except for the interruption of the Great War of 1857-8 and the ensuing decades of occupation by the British forces.

It was also a famine relief project by the Nawab to keep the economy running in bleak times, a medieval version of a welfare state. 

The Nawab is also buried in the Imambara itself. The main hall is over 50 metres long and 16 metres wide, and the 15 metre high ceiling is unsupported by any pillars in between; in fact, it also holds the great labryinth, the Bhool Bhulaiyan which means one could climb to the terrace enroute a maze and keep bumping into blind alleys and corridors without exits. Of late, the guided tours have anyway robbed the tourist of this wonderful experience since the exits are well populated, in addition to some new stairs at the far end to cater to the tourist rush.

The views of the Jama Masjid, and the area that was the erstwhile Macchi Bhawan (now the King George Memorial Hospital) are wonderful from the terrace. 

It is an active place of worship and tourists are requested to please observe decorum in the premises. 

Pic taken by me 1997 in a color film camera, later digitized in restoration

Gateway to the Imambara

Dark alleys of the bhool - bhulaiya

The view from top upto Teelewali Masjid

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