: Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
Also Known As
: Asafai Imambara
: Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula
The Bara or Great Imambara (an imambara is the tomb of a Shi'ite Muslim holy man) was built in 1784 by Asaf-ud-Daula. The central hall of the Imambara, at 50m long and 15m high, is one of the largest vaulted galleries in the world.
An external stairway leads to an upper floor laid out as an amazing labyrinth known as the Bhulbhulaiya. Beside the Imambara, and built by Asaf-ud-Daula , is the imposing Rumi Darwaza.
The architecture of this 15 meter high room is very unique and unparalleled. Here the Nawabs used to hold there ' Darbar ' or their public hearings. It is said that this hall is the world's largest arched room without any pillars. The upper part of this building is in shape of honey bees comb and is surrounded by the famous 'Bhul Bhulliya'. This has got numerous steps and there are 489 doorless galleries which are similar in appearance. People get lost in these galleries.
The largest of these mazed rooms and galleries has a speciality that even when a paper is torn on one of the end, it is heard on the other end. In the courtyard of Bara Imambara is the Shahi Masjid which stands tall on a platform, non muslims are not allowed here. Just besides the Shahi Masjid is the bottomless well. The Bara Imambara also has the tomb of
Most visitors therefore are only allowed inside with guides who are, quite amazingly, familiar with the maze. In fact, a favorite trick of all guides is to tell the visitor that he will be given 15 minutes to find his way out. Most visitors, needless to say, fail the test! There are also large underground passages that have now been blocked up.
Next to the Imambada, in the same compound, is a majestic mosque and to its right, a row of cloisters concealing a huge well, which is said to be fathomless.