"Satkhanda” and Mini Taj at Chota Imambara, Lucknow

Satkhanda, Lucknow, UP.  Pinterest

In the city of Lucknow, besides the Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara, there are other Islamic structures that can not escape our attention. They are beautiful and attractive  and in terms of artistic work and decorations, meticulous care had been taken to bring out the salient features of Muslim architecture relevant to that time. 

Lunar obsevatory. Satkhanda dolphin.blogspot.com
Right across the road in Hussainabad  Chota Imambara, a unique building attracts our attention and it appears to be incomplete. It is a blend of  French and Italian architecture. This  incomplete monument does not have seven floors as it was originally planned, but is called the “Satkhanda”. What is the purpose of this strange structure that has only four floors? What about the remaining floors? It is said the structure was built with a view to taking a clear view of the Moon during the holy month of Ramzan, besides, it is said, it served as a Watch
Tower.The builder  already had spent 5 years on this structure and , unfortunately, could not complete all the seven floors because of his unexpected death on the 7th of May 1842.  With his death,  work on the tower - Moon Observatory  came to a grinding halt. 

Under normal circumstances, the successor to the throne would normally resume the work where it was stopped and proceed to complete it. In the case of this tower, the next heir and later others were not allowed to resume the work on the tower  as it was considered unlucky and the ruler would run into all kinds of unnecessary problems if would venture to resume the work on the tower.  That is the reason why there are four tiers, each built in different styles.  This strange structure is under the control of the ASI who carries out periodic repairs.The height of the octagonal ground floor is 10 feet and the successive floors decrease in height as well as breadth. The total height is about 35 feet. Each face of the structure on every floor has triple-arched windows and compartments. The higher level from the ground floors can be accessed by a spiral flight of steps. From the top of the structure you have a good view of the adjacent places. 

 Mausoleums - Mini Taj:

chota Imambara, Lucknoow.Yatra.com
Mosque at chota Imambara, Lucknoow. commons.wikimedia.org/
Mini  Taj.chota Imambara Lucknow.sid-thewanderer.com/
Among the other structure in Chota Imambara, the small, but beautiful structure that serves as a mausoleum for four graves  of the son, daughter and son-in-law of the King Mohammed Ali Shah and one of the lady. is an interesting one. This simply a small version of the Taj Mahal  at Agra built by Shah jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

This tomb  was built on the model of the Taj by the Lucknow's Nawabs to  impress on the Moguls that construction of the Imambaras was a prestigious issue for them and they would rather build many Imambaras for the benefit of the people, rather than wasting money on highly embellished huge and luxurious tombs for their own selves like the Moguls. The message was quite clear:  For the Lucknowi Nawabs the holy prophet of Islam and his family  are close to their heart and more   important than themselves. They would build many structures that were useful to the pious people. This magnanimous attitude of the rich rulers helped them gain the trust of their subjects.

Mausoleum of the King and his mother: The Imambara building is flanked on the two sides by two white buildings which look a lot like mini Taj Mahal. The tomb of Princess Zinat Asiya, daughter of King Mohammad Ali Shah Bahadur is quite attractive.  These are actually the mausoleums for the King, his mother and his family members and the architect got the inspiration from  the iconic Taj Mahal.They though lack any decorative works of arts, embellishment and attractive calligraphy, etc., have their own aura about them. Yes, they stylishly simple and opulent.