Monday, 18 February 2013

Bhul Bhulayah – An Unusual Wonder!

Passages of Bhul Bhulayah on the rooftop (left) One of the buildings at Bada Imambada (right)

The mystery, the hidden truths and the mystic, all of it put together defines Lucknow’s Bada Imambada. Bhool Bhulayah (a part of the Imambada) is a fascinating labyrinth built by Asaf-ud-Daula (Nawab of Lucknow) in the 17th century. It’s located in the old area of Lucknow. To begin with, it’s one of the most underrated historical sites in the world!

When I visited it as a kid, it obviously intrigued me to the core! However, as I grew up and visited it again, I was awed more with the ‘uniqueness’ that seemed to be unfading. In fact, it grows to be more charming as the years pass along.

The thrill that the Imambada exudes is something to take back home. Your guide gives insights about the building – how it’s built, what material was used, why it’s built in such a fashion – each and every detail about the monument. In the meantime, you travel back in time, feel its aura and marvel at the wonder that it was, and still is!

The fear and fun of getting lost

Main entrance of Imambada seen from the rooftop
It is not a regular monument with exquisite beauty to appreciate – it is way ahead of that. From its walls, windows to the rooftop, everything has a story and purpose. Nothing is ordinary. As the name suggests, it’s a labyrinth, where you may get lost! Yes, it is true. There are four sets of identical staircases in four different directions to confuse you; however, one of them leads you to the top of the Imambada. Unless you are with a guide, you cannot figure out the right way on your own!

Dark narrow subway connected to Agra

The passages inside the labyrinth are absolutely dark, which adds to the enigmatic quality of the atmosphere. Your guide lights the way with a matchstick, while you follow him. There’s also a significant subway, which was used by the British soldiers to escape to Agra. It is blocked now and tourists are allowed to see it from a distance.

Hush…Walls can hear you!

Imambada’s walls are constructed in a way that nothing can be discussed in secrecy. The king could hear even the slightest of whisperings across the palace. To make you experience that, your guide leaves you at one end and talks to you from afar – the magic is that you can converse softly and yet hear everything clearly!

Key to a treasure
Something that amazed me the most is the five-storey ‘royal bath’ building, which has three storeys permanently under water! Your guide instructs you not to bend too much. However, you can throw a stone and see it go down to the very depth of water. 

Another interesting fact about the ‘royal bath’ is that there's a key dropped into the water. It’s a key to a significant treasure and it still remains there, beyond anybody's reach!

The sad part is that the state government has closed down many portions of the site, which could interest tourists. I hope the government takes steps for the conservation of this distinctive historical site and the legacy continues to thrill the generations to come!  


  1. place is beautifully captured.. interesting description...

  2. Awesome. I loved this architectural beauty when i visited it 2 weeks back. Wonderful post.

    1. Thanks so much, Niranjan! Glad that you visited it, too.

  3. Its the only such monument I have visited and it was the best... Nice pictures!

  4. Enjoyed reading it.Nice job Renuka! liked the pics too :-)Bhawna

    1. Thanks Bhawna! You are invited to join this blog!

  5. This sure is unusual but great destination! I have always been travelling around the world in search for the best holiday destinations to document and share in my personal blog! I might be checking this place on my next trip! Nice Blog.

    1. Thank you Jessica! Please keep visiting!


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