Sham -e- Awadh (Lucknow)

My first visit to Lucknow was in 1992 when I joined Ranbaxy, since than I have been to Lucknow many times but never visited any tourist place there in these last 18 years.

In February 2011, I had to attend a conference in SGPGI. On Sunday the conference got over after Lunch. After the wind up I left for the hotel. There I dropped my conference stuff, changed clothes & left hotel to visit Bada Imambara , Chota Imambara & Residency.

Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh which is situated at the bank of river Gomti. It is known for its Tehzeeb , Nazakat & Nawabs. Lucknow has rich History. From 1775 to 1856, it was capital of Awadh. It was named after Lakshman (younger brother of Lord Rama). Earlier it was known as Lakshman Puri than Lakhan Puri & now known as Lucknow. It is famous for Mughal Cuisine, Mangoes, Rewari & Chicken work in clothes.

I started my visit with one of the Lucknow’s famous monuments Bada Immabara.It is situated at 06 kms from Lucknow Railway Station. It was built by Nawab Asafud Daula in 1784. It took almost six years to be completed.

Bada Immabara

The construction was started for a noble cause as a relief to the famine struck citizen of Awadh. The constructed part of the building was used to be destroyed in the evening & it continued till the famine was over.In return labourers received money & food for their families.

Courtyard - Bada Immabara

Gate - Bada Immabara

Gate - Bada Immabara

Gate - Bada Immabara

The building was constructed by an architect Kaifyatulah.

The complex has following attraction:-

1. Main Building
2. Bhulbhuliya
3. Asafud daulan Mosque
4. Bowali (Well)

Main Building – As you enter inside the building , there is a wide courtyard in the front and further inside there are three halls which are known as Chinese , Persian & Indian Hall.

Main Bulding - Bada Immabara

The main hall is 49.4 mtrs long & 16.2 mtrs wide with out any pillar support. It is said that this hall is the largest hall in world without external support of wood , iron or stone beam.

Main Building - Bada Imambara

Main Building - Bada Imambara

You can listen to the sound of match stick at the other end of hall without any echo. If you happen to be there, please do observe this uniqueness.

Main Building - Bada Imambara

There is a dargah (Graveyard) of Nawab Asafud daula & Archietect Kaifyatulah.

Main Building - Bada Immabara

main Building - Bada Immabara

Bhulbhuliya – On the right side of main building the stairs go up for Bhulbhuliya I suppose the entrance & exit is after 45th step. Please note that the entrance & exit are from the same door. The guide can make you feel the whisper sound through wall.

Stairs to Bhulbhuliya

There are four hundred & nine narrow stairway passages, some of which are dead ends. At every crossing there are four ways out of which three are wrong. It is difficult to come out alone so take the help of guide.

Passage - Bhulbhuliya

From the top floor you can enjoy the beautiful view of the city.

Bhulbhuliya - Top floor

View from top floor - Bhulbhuliya

Asafud daulan Mosque
– On the left side of the main building you can see Asafud daulan Mosque. This mosque is with sculptured domes & minarets, thousands of people of Lucknow reach here on Friday to offer Namaz.

Asafud daulan Mosque - Bada Imambara

Asafud daulan Mosque - Bada Imambara

Bawali – On the eastern side you can see a amazing five stories Shahi Bawali (Step Well) which is connected to river Gomti. The first two stories are above water & rest is below water. As per Guide if you look from the eastern side of well, you can see the image of person approaching the well in water but that person can not see you. This was a great architectural art from the security point of view.

Bawali (Step Well)

Bawali (Step Well)

After visting Bada Imambara I came out from the building & took an auto to visit Chota Imambara which is situated about 01 km. from Bara Imambara. It was built by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah in 1837. Attractive Chandeliers were brought from Belgium. It is also known as palace of light.

Chota Imambara

close up - Chota Imambara

The central hall of Chota Imambara lies in the graves of Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah & his mother Malika Aliya.

You can see the replica of Taj Mahal in the campus of Chota Imambara.

Replica of Taj Mahal - Chota Imambara

On the left side of Chota Imambara is Shahi Hamam (Bathroom) where there is a provision of hot and cold water at the same place.

Shahi Hamam - Chota Imambara

Shahi Hamam - Chota Imambara

Picture Gallery – In between Bada Imambara & Chota Imambara there is Picture Gallery where there is a collection of portrait of the rulers of Awadh. Some of the 3D paintings are mind blowing.

Picture Gallery

Picture Gallery

Entry Ticket – Combined ticket for Bara Imambara , Bhulbhuliya , Bawali , Chota Imambara & Picture Gallery is Rs. 35/-

Guide Charges – Rs. 150/- per group.

Chota Imambara

After visiting these places, I explored Residency which I will cover in my next post.

Till than Happy Ghumakkari.


  • Sahil says:

    Mr. Mahesh ,
    Great post as usual . I have been to Lucknow and familiar to all these places. Nice pics.


  • vinaymusafir says:

    Very well written and detailed post with great supportive pics.
    Waiting for rest of the story.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Very informative and interesting narration and great pictures.


  • Ram Dhall says:

    Ranbaxy in 1992 – yes, I too was associated with them as an Account Manager from ANZ Grindlays Bank. In those days Bhai Mohan Singh, Dr. Parvinder Singh, Vinay Kaul and Vimal Raizada were at the helm of affairs. Your brilliantly written post sent me reeling back to those good old days.

    I have been to Bara Imambara and Bhul Bhllaiya a couple of times. During my next visit to Lucknow, your highly informative post would be of great help in understanding the finer points of the architecture.

    Warm regards and God’s blessings.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Mahesh,
    it is a very informative post. Though never been to Lucknow, your article creates a lucid picture of the place. Photographs are apt and descriptive.
    Bhulbhulaiya sounds very interesting – a la the Roman Catacomb, perhaps.
    Thanks for the nice post.

  • Vibha says:

    Nice post Mahesh. I have been to Lucknow on a very short trip but did not go to Bada Imambara though was dying to. So special thanks for taking us inside the intriguing building.

    • maheh semwal says:

      Nice to see your comment after a long time on my post.

      Thanks for going through the post & liking it.

  • Rashmi Bhandari says:

    Very informative post.

  • amitk227 says:

    ???? ???? ??. ???? ???? ?????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ??? ??. ????????? ?? ????? ??????? ?????? ??. ???????.

  • Chandra81 says:

    Hello Mahesh,
    One word epitomizes your post “panoptic”.
    It’s like going down the history lane. Your post is really focused as well us encyclopedic especially in terms of photographs. Who needs a guide after such an illustrative post.
    Really commendable. Thanks for sharing.

    • maheh semwal says:

      Thanks Nikhil for your golden words. I am glad to know that you liked the post.

      Once again thanks for going through the post & leaving comment.

  • Rajeev Tivari says:

    Your post really brings the monuments alive. The internal details you have shared through the pictures and words are rare to find. I am an outsider to Lucknow when it comes to its monuments. So Thanks a lot for sharing and enlightening. I have just one doubt, the bawli may not be actually connected to Gomti with a structure, though the water table of Gomti must be feeding it through soil.

    • maheh semwal says:

      I am glad to know that you liked the post. Your doubt regarding the bowli , might be correct ,this information was passed by the guide while visiting this monument.

  • Nandan says:

    I guess, I can now read a post and figure out whether it is written by you or not. The details are just right, very well structured and apt photographs :-)

    I have been to Bada Imambara. As you approach the main hall, you have to pass through a small pathway which had lot of unfortunate people sitting on ground and asking for help (money). I guess the trust which is maintaing this site can do a better job in rehabilitating those people. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable seeing that.

    After this experience, I was rather surprised to find that Guide system was pretty well managed. We took a guide and he challenged us to come out on our own, incidentally one of my colleagues was confident enough and was able to find a way. Thanks to him, I am here to read this story and comment on it.

    Also went to Residency but I am sure that unless I read your post, I wont know what I saw and what I missed. Great post Mahesh.

    • maheh semwal says:

      Nandan, Your are a great motivator for a writer like me. Thanks for your golden words.

      Residency Post is almost ready. Will publish by mon. / tue.

      Always miss professor Comment.

  • Rajeev Gautam says:

    Hey Guys,

    After reading all this I am thinking to stay for a day/night in Lucknow while going to Azamgarh in a marriage. Can anyone please suggest some decent hotel and few good place for dinner(specially non-veg) as I don’t prefer to take dinner in the hotel considering my previous experiences. Also heard about there is good variety in there.


    • I am a hard-core Lakhnavi and foodie! If you wish to eat authentic food, try:

      1. Idrees ki muuton-biryani – ye aaj bhi imli ke koyle ki aanch pe banti hai!
      2. Zeeshan ke Kabab – Tusli wali gali ki pahli dukan – you must eat galawati kabobs
      3. Must eat boti-paraathe at Zeeshan
      4. Charbagh wale Maharaja ka Kaali-mirch ka chicken
      5. Naush-e-jahan ke kakori-kabab – Tusli wali gali ki aakhiri dukan

      Agar inse mann na bhare, to zarur batayiga.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Thanks for going through the post & leaving your comment. For non veg I will suggest you Daster Khan near Tulsi , most of the people prefer Tunde ke kabab also, any how I did not liked it.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I would also recommend Dastar-Khan near Tusli. Go in the evening though.

    Regarding hotel, I have stayed at Sarovar Portico property last 2-3 times (I go once every year) and it is pretty ok and centrally located. I wrote a review two years back which might be useful.

  • pawan tiwari says:

    I love my lucknow…………………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • “Lucknow ki nazaakat hai ki rasgulle bhi chheel ke khaaye jaate hain”

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Good one Rishi :-)

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