The Chota Imambara, often called Hussainabad Imambara, is a magnificent monument in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
This famous building was a tomb for the Nawab of Lucknow, Muhammad Ali Shah Bahadur, and his mother. It’s a large hall where Shia Muslims gather for religious occasions and commemoration activities, especially during the month of Muharram.
You’ll be mesmerized by the sight of the many beautiful chandeliers within the structure, the impressive interior decorations, the excellent use of marble, massive and vibrant hanging lights, and vast gardens, all contributing to the grandeur of the surroundings.
Imambara consists of two separate halls, Shenasheen and Azakhaana. Each hall has beautiful carved interiors and exteriors. Along with the Imambara, it also contains a royal bath, a tomb, and a treasure.
It’s a captivating historical site that carries you back in time and fully helps you understand the glorious history of the Nawabs of Lucknow.
Chota Imambara, to the west of the Bara Imambara, is undoubtedly one of Lucknow’s most stunning and treasured heritage sites, bringing in tourists from all over the world.
Muhammad Ali Shah, the Nawab of Lucknow in the 18th century, mainly built the Chota Imambara in Lucknow as a unique location for Shia Muslims. It was constructed in 1838.
In addition to being a centre of worship, Chota Imambara is also historically significant.
During that particular time, there were famines in that area, which affected the lives of farmers and workers. To provide for their needs and help people live better lives, Muhammad Ali Shah, the Nawab of Awadh, decided to construct the Chhota Imambara.
You can find priceless belongings inside the structure, including Muhammad Ali Shah’s silver throne, a red crown, and numerous beautiful chandeliers. There are also exquisitely decorated tazias utilized in their religious rituals.
The final resting places of Nawab Muhammad Ali Shah and his mother are in the middle of the main Chota Imambara Structure or Husainabad Mosque. You’ll find smaller chambers that house Tazias and other holy objects used for devotion around this centre hall.
Two structures that resemble Agra’s renowned Taj Mahal are particularly remarkable. Those are, in fact, the graves of Muhammad Ali Shah’s daughter and his son-in-law.
For the people of Lucknow, the Chota Imambara is a source of pride and a location rich in history, culture, and religion all rolled into one.
A remarkable example of Mughal Construction, the Chota Imambara in Lucknow, displays its mesmerizing design and beauty.
When you enter, you’ll be welcomed by a unique metallic arch and a statue of flying fish. It serves as a weathervane and a symbol of the Nawab’s royalty.
A large park with lovely fountains can be seen beyond the arch. In the park, you can see a statue of an elderly woman trying to break the main entrance’s tallest arch with a metal chain. This chain is there to protect the arches from lightning during storms.
The Chota Imambara’s main structure, or the Husainabad Mosque, is a white building with a beautiful golden dome set on a raised platform. Two elegant minarets complement it. The exterior of the building is adorned with exquisite dark blue design, including flower motifs and Quranic verses in Arabic calligraphy.
There are five arched doors, each symbolizing Islamic principles and the importance of the five holiest figures in the religion.
What makes this place magical is the usage of lanterns and chandeliers. Many of these were presents from the royal family and imported from Belgium. The Chhota Imambara was named “Palace of Light” as a result, especially during festivals when chandeliers illuminate the interior and is a sight to behold.
This fantastic piece of architecture shows the aesthetic and structural talent of the time.
Special attractions of Chota Imambara
1. Shahi Hammam – The Royal Bath
The Royal Bath in Chhota Imambara was initially built exclusively for the women of the royal family. It had modern amenities like hot water and a drainage system. The walls were decorated with many candleholders, creating a magical ambiance.
The installation of a sophisticated drainage system allowed hot water to be directed to the Nawab’s huge bathtub. This unique and luxurious bathing area shows the careful planning and wealth of the time.
2. Tomb of the Princess
Two attractive white buildings can be found in the Chhota Imambara, one on either side of the main building. The one on the left, which was built earliest, is a specific spot. It serves as a tomb and final burial place for Princess Asiya Begum Sahiba, who was the daughter of Nawab Mohammed Ali Shah and her husband.
3. The Satkhanda
There is a unique salmon-colored tower named the Satkhanda, immediately close to the Chhota Imambara. Despite its name, the tower has 4 stories, not seven. It was built between 1837 and 1842 by the Nawab of Lucknow, Muhammad Ali Shah, during his rule.
It was built to provide a clear view of the moon during the month of Ramzan. However, when the Nawab passed away, the building was abruptly stopped. The Satkhanda is accessed via a spiral staircase that leads to its many floors and has big triple-arched windows and compartments.
The four tires of Satkhanda each feature a different architectural style. This building provides a fascinating glimpse into Lucknow’s architectural past in addition to acting as a historical wonder.
On the other side of the princess tomb is a similar white structure. It was built as a mirror image of the first one to produce an appealing and balanced design. It was used as a treasury.
This stunning pair of structures has been referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Lucknow” since it was inspired by the well-known Taj Mahal in Agra.
5. Other Attractions/ Structures in Chota Imambara
A 67-meter-tall Husainabad Clock Tower constructed of red bricks can be found here as well. Chota Imambara also has Hussainabad photo gallery, which was constructed in 1842. It served as a royal summer residence. There are portraits of former Awadh kings in the gallery.
Interesting Facts about Chota Imambara
- The fountains and water features inside the Imambara were supplied with water directly from the Gomti River
- The fish at the main gate is actually an anemometer, which helps measure wind speed.
- This historic monument, made from striking white marble, combines Indo-Islamic and Persian architectural styles, creating a unique blend.
- Chhota Imambara took an astonishing 54 years to complete its construction.
- On both sides of the gate, you’ll spot brass figures holding chains that may look decorative but actually serve as a safety measure for lightning protection.
- Chota Imambara is also known as Husseinabad Imambara.
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Entry fee and timing for Chota Imambara
The entry fee for Chota Imambara is Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 500 for foreign travelers (Including Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Picture Gallery, Shahi Hamam).
The Chota Imambara remains open on all days of the week throughout the year. The timings are from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Things you need to know when you visit Chota Imambara
- Only Muslims are permitted to enter the mosque within the monument complex.
- Before going into the Imambara building, please remove your shoes, and you might need to cover your head.
- Taking photos of the Tazias inside the Chota Imambara is not allowed for visitors.
- It is advised to hire a guide for better understanding.
How to reach Chota Imambara
- By Airport: The distance between Chota Imambara and Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport is 15.2 km and it takes almost 1 hr to reach there.
- By Railway: The distance between Chota Imambara and Lucknow station is 5.7 km and it takes almost 30 mins to reach there.
- By Bus: The distance between Chota Imambara and Charbagh bus station is 5.6 km and it takes almost 30 mins to reach there.
- By Metro: The nearest metro station to Chota Imambara is Charbagh Metro Station (5km) and Hazratganj Metro Station (4.9km).
Q1: What is Chota Imambara also known as?
Ans. Chota Imambara is also known as Husseinabad Imambara.
Q2: What is Chota Imambara called “Palace of Lights”?
Ans. Chota Imambara is called “Palace of lights” because during festivals the interior is illuminated by chandeliers and it is a sight to behold.
Q3: Chota Imambara is closed on which day?
Ans. Chota Imambara remains open on all days of the week throughout the year.
Q4: Which metro station is near to Chota Imambara?
Ans. The nearest metro station to Chota Imambara is Charbagh Metro Station (5km) and Hazratganj Metro Station (4.9km).
Q5: What is the ticket price of Chota Imambara?
Ans. The ticket price for Chota Imambara is Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 500 for foreign travelers ( Including Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Picture Gallery, Shahi Hamam).