Bara Imambara is an Imambara complex in Lucknow, India, built byAsaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also called the Asafi Imambara.
Bara means big, and an Imambara is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bara Imambara is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow.
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.
Construction of Bara Imambara was started in 1785, a year of a devastating famine, and one of Asaf-ud-Daula's objectives in embarking on this grandiose 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. 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 Bara Imambara has a unique style of construction. The central hall of Bara Imambara is said to be the largest arched hall in the world. The hall measures 50 meters long and goes upto a height of 15 meters. What makes the construction unique is the fact that the blocks have been put together with interlocking system of bricks and there has been absolutely no use of girders and beams. The roof stands steady till date without any pillars to support it.
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