Bara Imambara Overview

Ranked 1 of 162 sightseeing in Lucknow

The Bada Imambara was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. Often referred to as Asafi Imambara, it is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari.

Classified as Nawabi architecture, the edifice is part of the Asaf-ud-Daula Imambara Complex that contains a mosque, courtyards, gateways and a 'bawali' or step-well that was used as a summer palace. Built as part of a famine relief program following the famine, the complex is one of the earlier attempts in Lucknow to imitate a Mughal complex.

One of the few buildings in Lucknow devoid of European elements, the edifice incorporated high-arcaded battlements even when security was not a concern. The main hall can be reached by two gateways.

Asfi mosque, the Bhool Bhulaiyaa (the labyrinth), and bowli, a step well-with running water are some of the structures that together make up the complex. According to legends, the edifice also contains a blocked (tunnel) passageway, which leads through a mile-long underground passage to a location near the Gomti River.

After a period of long disuse, other passages, including the ones rumoured to lead to Faizabad, Allahabad and Delhi have been sealed. A maturation of ornamented Mughal design, namely the Badshahi Mosque is reflected by the architecture of the complex.

It is one of the last major projects not incorporating any European elements or using iron. A large vaulted central chamber containing the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula is located within the main imambara.

Counted among the largest such arched constructions in the world, it is spread over an area of 800 square metres and is over 15 metres tall. Containing no beams supporting the ceiling, it has eight surrounding chambers built to different roof heights.

This has permitted the space above these to be reconstructed as a three-dimensional labyrinth with passages interconnecting each other through 489 identical doorways. Bhool Bhulaiyaa is formed by the many balconies and passages that branch off from 489 identical doorways.

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One can enjoy its architecture

One can enjoy its architecture  Video Review

Bara Imambara

Rizwanuddin Rafiq
9th Aug 17

The most unique and spectacular architecture

The most unique and spectacular architecture  Video Review

Bara Imambara

Rizwanuddin Rafiq
9th Aug 17

What travellers are saying about Bara Imambara

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  • Best Time: During DayLength of visit: 2-3hrs
  • Length of visit: 2-3hrsBest Time: During Day
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Operating hours

Monday - Friday:
6:00 AM -7:00 PM
6:00 AM -7:00 PM
6:00 AM -7:00 PM
Public Holidays:
6:00 AM -7:00 PM

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Reviews and Ratings

Saranya Devanathan

Saranya Devanathan3.6/5

462 reviews

Architectural marvel

On Friday it is closed between 12 - 3 pm due to prayer. Even otherwise, only for namaz, people are allowed in masjid. Rs. 50 ticket is available at the entrance covering many monuments around. No english speaking guide was available. The guide who were guiding tourists in English belong to some hotel or tour operator. Not available to local tourists. I had to join those foreigners to get an idea about the marvellous architecture - without supporting pillars a huge hall stands out for centuries. The bathroom facilities are very dirty and not maintained at all. Except bathrooms, the whole area is cleanly maintained with garden

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Zaheer Chauhan

Zaheer Chauhan5.0/5

44 reviews

Architectural Marvel

A good place to spend your day in Lucknow one of the most famous place in Lucknow there is an amazing bhul bhulaiyaa to check ouy here. Please do make a visig
  • Architectural Marvel
  • Architectural Marvel
  • Architectural Marvel
  • Architectural Marvel

Sukhvinder Kaur

Sukhvinder Kaur4.3/5

19 reviews

Amazing Architectural Monument

Bada Imambada was built under the royal patronage of Nawab, Asaf -ud- Daula. The Imambada comprises Naubat Khana on the north, Asfi Mosque on the west, Shahi Baowli on the East. The main building is behind the mosque. The construction of the Imambada started during the Awadh famine of 1773, when the then Nawab offered construction work to the poor during the day and demolition work to the rich sufferers during night, so that all could get paid for their livelihood. Actual construction work started after 1776, when the famine got over.The main building consists of 3 halls. The first hall is called the 'Chinese hall', which is 330 ft. Long. The 2nd hall is called the ' Pertian Hall' and is 163 ft long. Big mirrors having walnut wooden frames are placed at such an angle that a few Lanterns placed at strategic positions would light up the entire hall. The reflected light added further charm on walls and roof having gold embed ed designs. There is Eco system within the walls. Special discourses delivered at one end can be heard at the other end. The graves of the Nawab and his wife are placed 15 ft. Below the ground. There is highlighting of red and green colour and is said to be related to the **** of 2 son's of Ali(grandsons of Hazrat Mohammed) One was killed with a sword(signifying red color) and the other was poisoned(signifying green color) at Karbala, the model of which is displayed here.The third hall is called the ' Indian Hall, the ceiling of which is designed like a sweet melon, which used to be cultivated on that land earlier.The entire building is made with organic material and sugarcane juice is used in place of water for construction. The walls are 15 ft. Wide with 8 ft. Passages.The ceding above three combined halls is flat though all the 3 halls have beautiful domes. This is because of huge thickness of the ceiling.There is a pathway on top around all four sides of the main building. Lighting a matchstick at one end of the pathway could be heard across 960 ft. At the other end. The old saying that ' Deewaron ke bhi kaan note hain' gets proved here.The 'bhulbhuliya' situated on top is the main attraction with 489 identical pathways. The staircase leading to bhulbhuliya consists of 84 steps. At each junction, there are 4 pathways, out of which 3 are wrong and only one is right. Out of total 1024 such pathways, only one is said to be correct. There used to be a tunnel, then connected with Delhi and Faizabad highways, which was closed after 1857 mutiny. There are 473 sepoy posts. Labyrinths are constructed to reduce the weight of the building and were designed in such a way that it is possible to keep an eye on intruders 900 ft. Away, while keeping yourself hidden, thus ensuring safety and security. The entire Architecture is amazing indeed.The 'Shahi Bowli' is another beautiful creation. It's a 7 storey building, having a well at the bottom. Out of 7 stories, 4 are above the ground and 3 below. The construction is such that the guards posted inside could see the reflection of all the people entering the Bowli and could attack the enemies right at the entry point from various Jharokhas, without the enemy knowing about the origin of the attack. The beauty of the place is that the reflection of the entrants seen through inside -Jharokhas is colourful, which leaves you perplexed.As per history, at the time of attack by enemies, the then treasurer threw up the key into the well and jumped in the well, instead of being coerced to disclose the details about the treasure. Such was the level of patriotism.Overall an amazing place and a 'must- see', when in Lukhnow.

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1 review

Bara - Imambara

Ara Immambada of Lucknow - IndiaIt is situated near Macchi Bhavan, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The Structure is literally large, that, There is no wordplay here. It's huge and grand. If Wikipedia is precise, then it has one of the largest unsupported ceilings in the world. Yeap you heard it right no pillars and still standing strong.History of Bara - Imambara.It is constituted by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, in 1784. It is also described as the Asafi Imambara. It is a memorial built by Shia Muslims for the design of Azadari. The complex also incorporates the large Asfi mosque, the bhool-bhulaiya (the labyrinth), and bowli, an abrupt well with running water. Two impressive gateways lead to the main hall. It is said that there are 1024 ways to reach the terrace but only one to come back. It is an accidental architecture.Construction of Bara Imambara was started in 1785, a year of a devastating famine, and one its objective in embarking on this pompous project was to provide employment for people in the region for almost a decade while the famine lasted. It is said that ordinary people used to work in the day building up the edifice, while noblemen and other elite worked at night to break down anything that was raised that day. It was a project that preceded a Keynesian like intervention for employment generation. Construction of the Imambara was completed in 1791. The estimated cost of building the Imambara ranges between half a million rupees to a million rupees. Even after completion, the Nawab used to spend between four and five hundred thousand rupees on its decoration annually. The only structure that is normal in this place is the Mosque ( I am not sure ).

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Chaynika sinha

Chaynika sinha4.0/5

1 review

Bara Imambara Lucknow

Perfect example of an Lucknow history best place to visit for holiday. Time should not be wasted ... The place I just so perfect to visit please visit one time
  • Bara Imambara Lucknow

Jenifer Sayyed

Jenifer Sayyed4.3/5

4 reviews

Lucknow- The city of Nawabs and Kebabs, Adab and Tahzeeb.

It is a place of historical, royal and cultural values. I always wanted to visit this place. Luckily, it happened because of my brother wedding and so a short trip of wedding cum tour executed.I would like to share some of the historical places to visit in Lucknow.1)Bara Imambara Bara Imambara is in the centre of the city and a Lucknow visit is incomplete without this place. As history says, it is built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, in 1784 and a shrine built by Shia Muslims, quite big as name says Bara .Built in the Nawab era, it has sprawling structure. The Bhool Bhulaiya is a unique attraction inside this place and one will get lost until a guide is accompanied. Each entry has some right and wrong path to confuse. It was constructed in such a way to deceive the enemy and British and the main gate is easily visible from the window. It also has some cell to come out of the complex in case of any war which is now unfortunately closed.At night, the outside structure and the area looks beautiful with lights. Being in this area, will reflect the Nawab time as Roomi gate and Chota Imambara is also on its way.Despite being huge and most visited place, it lacks basic cleanliness and not well maintained. Its also a tourist responsibility to maintain and keep the heritage clean.Baoli- It was constructed to be used as a water reservoir. It was not well maintained and mostly destroyed and might not see the true structure.Timings- 7am 7pm.Accessibility- Easily through an auto rickshaw or cabTicket: INR 50 (which covers Chhota Imambara, Bada Imambara, including Bhool Bhulaiya and Baoli, and Picture Gallery)2)Satkhanda Means seven storey ed building. It was supposed to have 7 storeys but due to the death of the Nawab the project closed and is now 4 storey structures.At first glance, it looks like leaning tower of Pisa, right?Its near to Bara Imambara and Clock tower. The garden area around is beautiful and clean. We didnt go inside due to construction, but we enjoyed the time outside in garden as the guard allowed us only considering that we were tourists.The guard informed us that this structure was made for the Royal women of Nawab family to see the moon of Ramadan and Eid.Timings- Best time to visit this is at sunset.3)Chota Imambara- Also known as Imambara Hussainabad Mubarak located near to Bara Imambara in Lucknow. Although as name says small chota compared to Bara yet has its own beauty and history.As you can see in picture, it is a small replica of Taj Hal built for the daughter of the Nawab.Inside the Imambara shrine has beautiful brass tazias and many attractive costly chandeliers from many countries.This place was clean and well maintained.Timings- 7am-7pm4) Clock tower Lucknow also known as Husainabad Clock tower is located near Roomi gate and Imambara and is one of the tourist attraction.Its tall, beautiful and well maintained. The tower was built by Nawabs for the British Governor. The illuminating light in it make it more attractive.Best time to visit this in evening where you can see its beauty especially after sunset and can chill with friends and family by enjoying street foods.Locally also called Ghantaghar of Lucknow.Tickets- Its free5) Ambedkar Memorial Park- Locally also called as Mayawati park. This seems like a majestic park, huge beautiful architecture with red sandstone make the park cool place to spend your time. Its so big that it will take 1-2 hours to see. A museum situated inside where we can find the glimpse of Ambedkar and Mayawati statues with illuminating lights around.In other corner, one can see numerous Elephant statues as well, each statue cost approx. 1cr.There is lot much to see so take some time and energy in hand before visiting this place.Best time to visit is during sunset.Tickets- INR 15.Who can miss shopping in LucknowShopping places-Nepali Chowk to get the Chikankaari or exquisite shadow-work embroidery on fine muslin cloth.We visited many shops there, but got the best service, deal and varieties at A. K. Chikan factory.Also, cannot miss the foodsFood hubs-Dastarkhan- Tasty and reasonable. A non-vegetarian must have Kali mirch Murgh at this place.Idris Biryani- Although famous but small and look like street shop. So take away is the best option. Biryani was delicious, and we craved for more.Parampara- A delicious variety of sweets in Old Lucknow.As I have mentioned it was wedding cum tour so we tried to explore these places apart from the wedding functions.There are lot more above Nawabs and Kebabs, but am satisfied at least we got to visit this beautiful city.Hope you find this blog useful and do suggest your experience so that other readers and even me can cover that next time.Happy Travel !!!

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95 reviews

Living it up Nawabi style!

Lebua hotel, kebabs, Imambara, residency, polite manners, small town vibes with big city convenience. Any one of these is a good reason to visit Lucknow!

Er. rahul

Er. rahul3.6/5

184 reviews

Bara imambara

The Bara Imambara of Lucknow is one of the most famous monuments of the city. Also known as Asfi Imambara, after the name of the Nawab of Lucknow who got it constructed, it is an important place of worship for the Muslims who come here every year to celebrate the religious festival of Muharram. The Imambara is specially known for its incredible maze, known as Bhul Bhulaiya locally, which is located in the upper floor of the monument.

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Harshit Agrawal

Harshit Agrawal3.6/5

12 reviews

A nice and pleasant place to visit

I visited Lucknow for my personal work in April and my friends told me to surely visit the famous monument Bada ImamBara. The name itself depicts its image that its Big. When I visited that place I just loved the it. The entrance has a lovely fort gate with garden. Entering the place gives you peace. The main building is historic and still it is holding its gravity. It has three ceiling parts named as tray, cup plate and I dont remember the third one. The bara imam Bara was mainly built to generate employment to the local people so as to survive in famine which occurred at that time as told by the locals. It is not build by cement but with natural food element such as rice musk, fluid of bel, sugar but not with cement and bricks. The building is famous for its bhul bhulaiya which is awesome. Inside we can hear the sound of match stick burn and paper crumble from one end to another clearly. The place is very beautiful and I suggest that one should visit Bada Imambara if you ever visit Lucknow.

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  • A nice and pleasant place to visit

Ravi Bhatnagar

Ravi Bhatnagar4.3/5

2 reviews


Bara Imambara is a historical monument in Lucknow and any one who is visiting Lucknow must go and have a look of this monument. It is situated in old area of Lucknow and can be easily accessed by the tourists. A great place to visit.Nearby places to visit are Bhoolbulaiya, Roomi darwaza.

Photos of Bara Imambara

Bara Imambara, Lucknow

Photo by

Srijan Srivastava

Bara Imambara, Lucknow
Bara Imambara, Lucknow

Photo by

Jagdish Raval

Bara Imambara appearance
Bara Imambara, Lucknow

Photo by

Ayan Seth

Inside Bara Imambara
Bara Imambara, Lucknow

Photo by

Jagdish Raval

Bara Imambara appearance and the premises

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