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Photographer's Note

I take a little break and post my latest work These images have been shot during my weekend trip to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. I took this shot inside the Bhul Bhullaiyya or the Labyrinth.

Bara Imambara is an imambara complex built by Asaf-ud-daulah, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also called the Asafi Imambara.

Bara means big, and the term Imambara refers to a shrine dedicated for Azadari purpose by the Shiite Muslims, who gather there to observe Muharram. Among all the buildings of Lucknow it is the grandest .

The complex also includes the large Asfi mosque, the bhulbhulayah (the labyrinth), and bowli, a step well with running water. Two imposing gateways lead to the main hall

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. It was a project that preceded a Keynesian like intervention for employment generation.

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.

The design of the Imambara was obtained through a competitive process. The winner was an architect Kifayatullah, who also lies buried in the main hall of the Imambara. It is another unique aspect of the building where the sponsor and the architect lie buried besides each other.


There is also a blocked (tunnel)passageway which, according to legends, leads through a mile-long underground passage to a location near the Gomti river. Other passages are rumoured to lead to Faizabad (the former seat of power of the Nawabs), Allahabad and even to Delhi. They exist but have been sealed after a period of long disuse as well as fears over the disappearance of people who had purportedly gone missing, while exploring.

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Additional Photos by Aadiil Jamal (aadilj) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2494 W: 64 N: 2604] (18102)
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