Lucknow’s Bada Imambada reopens after 6 months, but with conditions
Tourist guides were relieved after the reopening of the iconic Imambadas.Updated: Sep 24, 2020, 10:20 IST
Lucknow’s iconic nawabi-era structure, the Bada Imambada, opened to the public on Thursday after nearly 190 days of closure due to Covid-19 triggered lockdown and subsequent restrictions on reopening of public places amenable to mass gatherings.
The entry was allowed only through e-tickets and only 100 tourists would be let inside the historic structure each day to guard against overcrowding, as per Covid-19 induced social distancing and protection protocol, said an official with Hussainabad and allied trust (HAT) that owns the structure.
Other than Bada Imambada that was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784, the other heritage structures (owned by the HAT) including the picture gallery and the Chhota Imambada, too opened.
“Bada Imambada and other heritage structures are open for the tourists. We are expecting more local tourists and a lesser number of foreigners initially, but we expect footfall to increase by this weekend,” said Sushil Pratap Singh, city magistrate/secretary, HAT.
Singh said that the trust has also put in place certain measures to ensure safety of the tourists during the pandemic.
Not only is the entry restricted to only allow visitors carrying e-tickets but a ‘no mask, no entry’ policy is also in place.
E-ticketing and digital payment has been made mandatory for the tourists and group photography at Bada Imambada has been banned, officials said.
The visitors appeared delighted with the reopening of these iconic structures.
“It’s like being back to life. These days, when cinema halls and other hangout joints are still closed, opening of Bada Imambada is indeed a big relief,” said Mohammed Shadab, a college goer, who came visiting with his friends.
The reopening of Bada Imambada has also brought smiles back to the faces of the tourist guides.
“I never came across such a situation, never even heard about any such situation when Imambada had to remain closed for straight six months. It’s the first time in history. The closure hit us hard since the salary we get from the trust is too low to meet our family expenses,” said Athar Hussain, one of the oldest guides who completed 20 years’ service on August 23 this year.
Other than Hussain, there are some 80 other guides who are associated with the trust.
Bada Imambada initially was to be reopened from July 6 following the orders of the Union ministry of culture allowing ticketed monuments to reopen.
HAT, however, had cited the non-availability of an e-ticketing system behind the delay in the reopening of the Nawabi era structure.
Lucknow has two ticketed heritage structures—Bada Imambada and Residency.
“Residency was opened to tourists from July 6 onwards through online ticketing. But Bada Imambada could not be opened as it did not have an online ticketing system in place. The Imambada, however, is operational now,” said Manoj Saxena, deputy superintending archaeologist, Lucknow circle, Archaeological Survey of India.