Uttar Pradesh

Chhota Imambara, Sat Khanda and Rumi Darwaza – A yesterday of Lucknow

हम भी बीते हुए को जी लेते हैं.
और एक दिन हम न होंगे … पर हमारा निशां होगा.

It was my second trip to Lucknow. The month is mid March and luckily summer has not yet set in.

Where to stay in Lucknow

I normally stay at state tourism guest houses and my experience has been good at all guest  houses in entire India.  For Uttar Pradesh you can book online using  https://online.up-tourism.com/booking

UPSTDC guys settled for a guide for Rs.700 for me  and overwhelmingly he came in tie and in full enthu next morning in his bike. Since I was alone he offered to accompany me in bike for my convenience. Reached Imambara at about 2.30 PM. I finished quickly since I already had seen this earlier and just wanted to take a few fotos which I had lost in my last trip.

Truly, in my second trip Chhota Imambara did not impress. In fact most of the portions are occupied for prayers. Also the maintenance is also poorer as compared to I had seen few years back, I did not notice any water bodies which enhanced its beauty earlier.

This Imambara was built by “Nawab Muhammad Ali Shah” in 1838 AD. It is very relevant to know who were these Nawabs and the history of Lucknow from Mughal time.

Akbar divided his Mughal kingdom in 12 provinces. One of the “subah” was Awadh (area between Ganges and Yamuna). He appointed Nawabs (Naib in persian which means “assistant”). The subah was further divided in 5 divisions. So Awadh was divided into five sarkars, Awadh, Lucknow,  Bahraich, Khairabad and Gorakhpur. Saadat Khan (Note it is NOT Saadat Ali Khan) was appointed first Nawab of Awadh in 1722. He laid foundation of Awadh under suzerainty of Mughals. Later followed by Shuja-ud-daula who lost to British in Battle of Buxar in 1774. His son Asaf-ud-daula was 4th Nawab, built  “Asafi (bara) Imambara” and “Rumi Darwaza“. After battle of Buxar British made Saadat Ali khan as first “puppet Nawab” of Awadh. After him his son Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar and in few successions Muhammad Ali Shah became nawab from (1837-42) who built Chhota Imambara, Sat Khanda. All these Nawabs were of Persian (Iranian) origin. Wajid Ali Shah (1842-1856)  was exiled to Kolkata and this ignited  fury among locals of Awadh which reflected in fierce battle of 1857 in Awadh which we can see in Residency in Lucknow. During his time all Lucknow was prevailing with “Afeem”, Chess, luxurious life, luxurious art, dance. It is said that even rikshawala would buy Afeem instead of loaf from his hard earned money.  Built Alambagh gate. Constructed Sikandar Bagh gate in memory of Begum Sikandar Mahal, Chhatar Manzil etc.

The neighbouring structures to Chhota Imambara are Picture gallery, Bara Imambara, Sat Khanda and Rumi Darwaza.

“Satkahnada” below  was started by Muhammad Ali Shah in 1842 as he wanted to make tower  like Babylon minaret or floating garden but by time it reached 5th floor he died. As guide told that his wife tried to build and she also died. Further the top floor was tried by Samajwadi party and then the government fell.


“Rumi Darwaza“was built by started by Nawab Asaf-ud-daula in 1742. It is now more that 270 years old. It is built on Turkish design.

Front of Rumi Darwaza

Rumi Darwaza from Back side

Gate to Imambara facing Rumi Darwaza

Gate to Chhota Imambara on main road

Entry gate of Chhota Imambara is below. Entry tickets can be purchased here.

Entry gate of Imambara

Entry gate of Chhota Imambara from Inside. It is more decorative than its outside face. There is a fish which it seems was  used for determining wind direction. Also there is lightning arrestor system used those days..

Imambara gate from Inside. Fish system

“Main Imambara” Building is very decorative and picturesque. Earlier I had seen the water in front of this but now it seems water is not there due to scarcity in summer.

Main building of Chhota Imambara

Below is known as “Shahjadi ka Makbara” tomb of Zeenat Asiya, daughter of Muhammad Ali Shah. It is said to be replica of Taj Mahal but I did not really find any resemblance at all.

Shahjadi ka Makbara- Daughter of Muhhammad Shah

As soon as we enter on left side is “Shahi Hammam”. The guide explained the water supply and scent flow system in Hammam and was interesting to know.

On the right corner of main imambara is the mosque. Every Friday lots of Muslims attend prayer here.

Mqsque on right corner


There are a few Horse carts available outside and remind of old nawabi days.. But where is the ZEAL.


Lucknow is known for Nawab Culture and “adab”. I say that this culture has not faded yet except that traffic is still very rough here. Anyway Lucknow if known for its bada imambara and Chhota Imambara and Bhool Bhulaiya. 1857 has left a mark on Lucknow and Residency is also now a part of its rich history.


Bada and Chhota imambara are ine of the main attractions of Lucknow though there are
Time to spend : 1-2 hours. We landed in Goa by train in Sep,2018. It
Recommended Duration : 2 hours This temple has the high historical importance as it was
Recommended duration  One day if you want to see only popular monuments like Gol Gumbaz,
Recommended Duration - 2 hours Had a weekend plan to attend a friend's brothers wedding

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