Among the major landmarks of Lucknow, Bara Imambara is the major attraction for the tourists who visit Lucknow first time. It is popularly known as Bhool Bhulaiya (Labyrinth) due to it has thousands of ways but only a single right way to reach the destination so peoples who entered in it unable to find the way to get out. It is only the type of labyrinth in India. Its name Bara means big and Imambara means shrine. Imambara refers to the place where Shia Muslims celebrate their various ceremonies such as Muharram. It’s another unpopular name is Asafi Imambara due to its construction was done by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula.

Bara Imambara Lucknow
Bara Imambara Lucknow
History of Bara Imambara

As per records, its construction was started in the year 1784 by that time Awadh’s Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula and the architect was Kifayat-Ullah. At that time there was a devastating famine in the Awadh region and peoples of Awadh suffering from it. So Awadh’s Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula planned to employed peoples for the construction of a building. More than 20000 men were selected from all class at that time so-called poor, working and elite class. As per the planning of Nawab, in the morning poor and working class peoples build the complex and in evening elite class peoples broke the construction of morning for ensuring the work for everyone. That’s why Imambara takes 11 years to complete.   

Bara Imambara Lucknow
Second gateway of Bada Imambada
Architecture of Bada Imambara

The architect of Bara Imambara was Kifayat-Ullah who win this project through a competition. This huge complex reflects the mixture of Mughal and Rajput architecture which shows the maturation of Mughal design with strong Islamic influences. There is Badshahi Mosque which is the major project constructed at that time without the use of iron. The main hall of the Imambara having the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula which is the largest arched construction in a world without the use of supporting beams or iron rods. It is 50 by 16 meter in length and width and more than 15 meters in height.

Bara Imambara Lucknow
A view of Asfi Mosque from Bada Imamabada
There are nine halls in the Imambara, in which central hall is the largest and surrounded by other eight halls. Due to different roof heights of the halls, there is space on the roof to create such a beautiful three-dimensional labyrinth where zig-bag passages interconnected with each other and confusing to people in choosing the right way. There are lots of dead ends so without knowing the exact way it was unable to get out from this building so popularly called as Bhul Bhulaiya.

As per saying there were lots of underground passages which open in nearby cities of Lucknow such as Faizabad, Agra, Kanpur, etc. but now all underground passages blocked. The wall's thickness of the Imambara is 10 to 16 feet which provides space for the passages and there were stairs to going up but all are now closed.
Bara Imambara Lucknow
Shahi Baoli Main Gate
There is Shahi Bawli which is five-storey building around a well. This is very interesting building it designs such a way if you stand to the main gate of the entrance of Bawli your clear image will be displayed in the well as peoples inside the Bawli easily see who is coming inside the Bawli. This Bawli well is connected to the Gomti River. There is Asafi Masjid which is a mosque and it’s named after Asaf-ud-Daula.

Asfi Mosque
Asafi Masjid
TouristBug’s Recommendations for tourists
  • For couples, it is compulsory to take government authorized guide and also for husband-wife who have no kids with them.
  • Others have the option to take guide or not but I will be recommended to take a guide or join a group who take guide under sharing for better knowing this historical place and stories related to this place.  
  • The maximum time for visiting this place will be around 3 to 4 hours to reach in the morning to enjoy the full day.
  • In the main building shoes or sleeper not allowed so you can use shocks for visiting the Imambara.
  • If you have DSLR cameras then there will an extra charge for the camera.
Bara Imambara Lucknow
Corridors Inside the Bada Imambada
Facilities inside the Bada Imambara
  • Park for rest and enjoy.
  • Car and bike parking available.
  • Washrooms for gents and ladies.
  • Old and antique item shops for purchasing.
  • Small canteen for snacks cold-drinks water etc.
  • There are all facilities for tourists at Bara Imambara.
  • Photographers who will take your photo and give print immediately. 
Visit Timing of Bada Imambara

It opens in the early morning at 06:00 am and close at 05:00 pm.

Entry fee of Bada Imambara

For Indias Rs. 50.00/person and for Foreigner it will be Rs. 500.00/person. There is a single ticket for all including Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Picture Gallery, Shahi Hamam, and Bawli. You have to take a guide and it will cost Rs. 100 to 150 for couples and groups or for a single person.

How to reach Bara Imambara

Bada Imambada is situated at Machchhi Bhawan, Hussainabad Trust Road, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh so reaching to Lucknow from anywhere no problem. You can reach Lucknow easily by railway, bus or Aeroplane.

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