After witnessing the magnificent architecture of Bada Imambara and the labyrinth, I looked forward to view another imposing monument which is the landmark of Lucknow and is located close to the bada imambara- the chota imambara. The Imambara of Hussainabad or the Chota Imambara as it is popularly known as, is an attractive building of this city and was built by Mohammed Ali Shah in 1839. The Imambara is readily seen from the distance with its gold plated domes and attracts people. For entrance to the monument, there are two tri-arched gates- one in east and one in west. Between them is placed the main door (phatak) which leads the way to the main compound. As I entered the phatak (main gate), I came across two large bronze casted human figures which are in fact a part of lightning conductor arrangement. It was amazing to realize that people in those times used such skilled techniques.
The building seems to have been planned on the Charbagh (four gardens) pattern with a stream running through the middle of the garden and two structures on either side. One structure appeared to
be replica of the Taj Mahal in much reduced size. The guide told me that this structure was served as mausoleum for four graves- the son, daughter and son-in-law of the King and one of the
ladies. The structure on another side of the lake was a similar structure placed for symmetry and equilibrium.
The complex also harbored a hamam (ancient bath enclosure) as part of the water harvest and cooling system. On entering the building, it was astonishing to see that the interiors have some fascinating Arabic calligraphy and glassworks. The large hall bordered in green and white - Azakhana is beautifully decorated with chandeliers and shiny crystal glass lamp-stands. It was for this generous decoration that the Imambara was referred as ‘The Palace of Lights' by Europeans.
Outside the Imambara was the watchtower called Satkhanda. However, the construction of this tower was neglected when Ali Shah died. The gardens are still maintained efficiently and one can find them blooming almost every time. I decided to move back to my hotel after filling my heart with the beauty and the noble cause with which these monuments were constructed.