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Photographer's Note

Bara Imambara is an imambara complex built by Asaf-ud-daulah, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784.

Bara means big, and the term Imambara refers to the residence of the Imam, a religious leader in Islam. The Imambara is of particular relevance to the Shiite Muslims, who gather there to commemorate Muharram. The complex also includes the large Asfi mosque, the bhulbhulayah (the labyrinth), and bowli, a summer palace with running water.

The Bara Imambara was built in 1783, a year of a devastating famine, and one of Asad-ud-Daulah's objectives in embarking on this grandiose project was to provide employment for people in the region. According to reports, the famine continued for over a decade and the construction of the building continued for this time. It is said that ordinary people used to work in the day building up the edifice, while noblemen and other elite were called at night to break down all the structure raised, as they were incapable of doing anything else, according to a chronicle of the period. This see-saw efforts continued till the famine period was over.

The architecture of the complex reflects the maturation of ornamented Mughal design - it is one of the last major projects not incorporating any European elements or the use of iron. The main imambara consists of a large vaulted central chamber containing the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula. At 50 by 16 meters and over 15 meters tall, it has no beams supporting the ceiling, and is one of the largest such arched constructions in the world. There are eight surrounding chambers built to different roof heights, permitting the space above these to be reconstructed as a three-dimensional labyrinth with passages interconnecting with each other through 489 identical doorways. This part of the building, known as is a popular attraction, and often the whole complex may be referred to as the bhulbhulayah. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintenionally to support the weight of the building, constructed on marshy land. There is also a blocked passageway which, according to legends, leads through a mile-long underground passage to a location near the Gomti river. Other passages rumoured to lead to Faizabad (the for er seat of power of the Nawabs), Allahabad and even to Delhi exist but have been sealed after a period of long disuse as well as fears over the disappearance of people who had purportedly going missing, while exploring. -Wikipedia

This view is taken from the roof of the Bhulbhulaiya, another famous monument in the same compound. Built to be a maze, the Bhulbhulaiya may have served as security feature during war. However it is said that the Nawab played with his many wives in this maze. It is said that it is very difficult to pick ones way through this maze without a guide.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Suman Palit (spalit) Silver Note Writer [C: 7 W: 0 N: 22] (87)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 1998-10-19
  • Categories: Architecture
  • Camera: Nikon F50
  • Exposure: f/8, 1/125 seconds
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2007-01-31 2:10
Viewed: 6333
Points: 4
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Additional Photos by Suman Palit (spalit) Silver Note Writer [C: 7 W: 0 N: 22] (87)
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