Imambara Shah Najaf - the legacy of the 'first King of Awadh'

Built by Gazi-ud-din Haider in the memory of Hazrat Ali, Imambara Shah Najaf is one of the lesser known Imambaras of Lucknow. The tomb back then was inspired by Hazrat Ali's tomb in Najaf, Iran and that's how it got its name. However, today the resemblance is close to nil.

Most Lucknowites consider their city to be the home of only two Imambara - Bada Imambara and Chhota Imambara. However, the truth is that there are numerous Imambaras in Lucknow, especially in the old part of the city.

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
A man praying at Imambara Shah Najaf

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
Imambara Shah Najaf

The first King? Err...really?

Here's an interesting fact about Gazi-ud-din Haider, who built the Imambara. He was the seventh Nawab of Awadh, and as we know a Nawab was under the Mughals and was simply the caretaker of their lands, and not a ruler. However, Gazi-ud-din Haider decided to break ranks with the rather powerless Mughals and declared himself a king - so technically he was the first king of Awadh :)

Curious how it looked during it's heydays? Here's an image :)

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
Imambara Shah Najaf in 1890s (image credit: Wikipedia)

My visit to Imambara Shah Najaf

The first time I saw this Imambara was when I was driving along the Gomti and I could see s beautiful gate an a large tomb on my left. I asked my driver about it and he had no clue. It was a few days later when I was researching about old Lucknow I came across an old black and white image of this building and immediately recognised it because of its large and unusual tomb. In fact it's tomb reminds me more of a Buddhist Pagoda than an Imambara. So the next time I had some time on the morning I decided to go there - as luck would have it, I forgot to carry the memory card for my DSLR and so could take pictures only from my iPhone 7 Plus.

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
The Imambara from outside

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
Ceiling inside

Imambara Shah Najaf lucknow photo
A walk around the Imambara

My visit to the Imambara was brief but I loved time spent there. A big away from the road, the Imambara was quite abs there was hardly anyone there, except a few worshippers. Just like the other Imambaras of Lucknow, people of all faith are welcome there, but the mosque next to it accessible only to the Muslims, like the Jama Masjid.

Practical details

Entry: free

To reach: Imambara Shah Nazaf is located by the side of River Gomti on Maharana Pratap Road, just before the National Botanical Research Institute, a hugely popular park for those who love to do some exercise in the morning.

Here's a map for reference:

Comments

  1. Such a beautiful place..Loved the architecture and specially the designs on the ceiling.. It's beautiful..����

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    1. It is indeed beautiful Pranay! Lucknow is full of such marvels...

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  2. Glad to know about this lovely place.

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  3. This is great! The quality of writing coupled with a great choice of topic and some truly mesmerizing photographs is what makes this article awesome. Kudos!
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  4. The Imambara Shah Najaf looks pretty impressive in the 1890s. Is the structure being maintained nowadays? Curious as to why the driver had no idea about the structure when you asked him.

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  5. It's interesting the Nawab was under the Mughals as a caretaker and it only took till the seventh before one declared themselves king. The dome on the inside is beautiful! Plus it has two things I always love to find when exploring, it's free and historical.

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  6. The architecture is just stunning - but what I really love is that apparently one can just declare themselves king and get away with it. I'm going to have to work on a new title!

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  7. Great photos for simply using a phone. I wish we had amazing architiecture like this in Australia. Pretty mundane buildings and churches here.

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  8. Iphone is so reliable. The photos are good quality even tho by only Iphone. I sometimes use my phone when I don't have a camera on hand. It's nice to get away for a while, enjoy some scenes that we usually don't see on the road but somewhere a bit far off like Imambara Shah Najaf.

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  9. This architecture is just unreal. Imambara looks absolutely incredible. I can definitely see why it reminded you of a Buddhist Pagoda. I love seeing the photo of it in the past as well!

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  10. Glad you shared this hidden gem, Marking it for my next visit which could be whenever but I sure want to visit this. Especially to see that ceiling. It is so colorful and nice. Good pics using the phone.

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  11. Know that feeling of not having the camera when you need it!!
    But nevertheless a couple of frames have come out well. Lucknow seems a lot like Delhi, where you stumble upon lesser known monuments randomly on the road.
    I have not explored anything in UP beyond Agra. Maybe it is time!

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