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Bibi ka Maqbara the Taj of the Deccan. Aurangabad

The Bibi Ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara Aurangabad is a beautiful mausoleum built for Dilras Begum, the first and beloved wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Bibi ka Maqbara is also known as the Tomb of the Lady. This is one of the largest structures to have been built during Aurangzeb's reign. Bibi ka Maqbara is the only Mughal architecture in the southern part of India. It is an architectural wonder boasts of intricate designs, carved motifs, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Dilras Begum was born in the Safavid family of Iran. Princess Dilras was the daughter of Shah Nawaz Khan who was the Viceroy of the State of Gujarat. She married Prince Aurangzeb in 1637 as his first consort and wife. She was also his most beloved wife. They had five children and Dilras died after delivering the fifth child due to complications during childbirth. Her death devastated Aurangzeb and their eldest son Azam Shah. They couldn't bear the loss and they were grief-stricken for months. Aurangzeb wanted to construct a mausoleum for his wife. Azam Shah wanted the structure to be similar to the Taj Mahal, the resting place of Aurangzeb's mother, Mumtaz Mahal. Bibi ka Maqbara was built between 1651 and 1661. After her death, the Dilras Begum was titled Rabia Durrani which means a generous lady known for her pious and kind-hearted nature.

Bibi ka Maqbara, popularly known as Aurangabad Taj Mahal and it was supposed to be more splendid in appearance than the Taj Mahal. But due to the restrictions on the funds allocated for the construction, it became difficult to imitate the Taj Mahal. Emperor Aurangzeb did not have much interest in architecture and did not want to spend money lavishly on another monument like the Taj Mahal. It is popularly known as the Mini Taj Mahal of Aurangabad. Bibi ka Maqbara sits in the center of a beautiful Char Bagh style garden. To the north is a twelve door Baradari, the south has the main entrance, to the west is a mosque built by the Nizam of Hyderabad and Aina Khana or the Mirror Chamber is in the east. There was a time when River Kham could be seen flowing behind the tomb. The Maqbara is built on a high square platform with four minarets at its corners, exactly like the Taj Mahal. It can be approached by a flight of steps from three sides. The pathway leading to the mausoleum from the main entrance is decorated with trees on both sides and a large number of fountains in the center of the pathway. The marble used for building this mausoleum was sourced from Jaipur.

Except for the central part of the main mausoleum, the rest of the structure is made of red stone, lime and stucco plaster. Fine plaster was used with marble in certain parts of the structure and then polished to give a marble-like finish. Stucco painting and stucco plaster were used instead of mosaic, marble screens, and Pietro Dura. The ceiling of the main entrance is decorated with amazing geometric designs. Glazed tiling, an ancient technique, used in Egypt is also found here inside the water tanks, cisterns, and reservoirs.

Interesting Facts

Do you know that India has not one but two Taj Mahals? Indeed, there is a monument identical to the Taj that stands in Aurangabad in Maharashtra. It is a mausoleum called Bibi Ka Maqbara ("Tomb of the Lady") built by Prince Azam Shah, the son of the sixth Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, between 1651 and 1661 AD, in the memory of his mother, Dilras Banu Begum.

Bibi Ka Maqbara draws its inspiration from the famous Taj Mahal of Agra built by none other Prince Azam Shah’s grandfather, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Azam Shah intended to build a monument that would rival the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, he lacked the treasury his grandfather had access to, as well as the skilled labour the treasury bought, resulting in a poor copy of the latter. Even so, Bibi Ka Maqbara is an architectural wonder with intricate designs, carved motifs, an imposing structure and beautifully landscaped Mughal-style gardens. Due to its strong resemblance to the Taj Mahal, it is lovingly called the “Taj of the Deccan”.

The mausoleum stands at the centre of a spacious enclosure measuring approximately 458 m by 275 m, with axial ponds, fountains and water channels, many defined by stone screens and lined with broad pathways. The garden is enclosed by high crenelated walls with fortresses set at intervals, and open pavilions on three sides. The mausoleum is built on a high square platform with four minarets at its corners, exactly like the Taj Mahal, and approached by a flight of steps from three sides. The main onion dome of the Maqbara is, however, smaller than the dome of the Taj and its minarets are shorter.

Seen by itself, Bibi Ka Maqbara is a beautiful piece of work, but it pales in comparison to its famous forbearer. While the monument in Agra is made entirely out of pure white marble, the mausoleum in Aurangabad is encased with marble only up to the dado level. Above this, it is covered with a fine plaster polished to give a marble-like finish. Only the onion dome was built with marble. The walls of the Maqbara are also a little dusky by contrast, which gives the mausoleum a duller appearance compared to the Taj. According to records, Bibi Ka Maqbara cost Alam Shah 700,000 Rupees to build. In comparison, the Taj Mahal was built at a cost of approximately 32 million rupees at that time. This is probably another reason why Bibi Ka Maqbara is often referred to as the "poor man’s Taj".

Bibi Ka Maqbara’s diminutive status is a consequence of Aurangzeb’s lack of interest in architecture. Initially Aurangzeb was not in favour of building a monument as lavish as the Taj, and he prevented its construction by blocking the movement of marble from Rajasthan and various other parts of the Mughal empire. But his son Alam Shah was determined to have a monument to his mother that might vie with the Taj. Somehow, Alam Shah prevailed upon his father, who eventually relented.

Legend has it that in 1803 AD, Nizam Sikander Jahan was so captivated by the Maqbara that when Aurangabad and the Marathwada area were annexed to his kingdom, he planned to shift the Maqbara to his capital, Hyderabad. He even ordered the dismantling of the structure, slab by slab. But, somehow, he had a premonition of some disaster which might befall him were he to harm the existing structure. He stopped the work and as a penance got a mosque built, which still stands to the west of the main structure

Bibi ka Maqbara Aurangabad Timings: 8:00 A.M to 8:00 P.M (opens for all days)

Bibi ka Maqbara Aurangabad Entry Fees: INR 15 for Indian nationals and INR 200 for foreign nationals

How To Reach Bibi Ka Maqbara

By Air: You can take a flight to Aurangabad Airport and then from there you can take a cab to reach Bibi Ka Maqbara.

By Rail: Aurangabad is well connected to other major cities by trains. Therefore, you can catch a train directly to Aurangabad railway station and then from there you can take a cab to Bibi Ka Maqbara.

By Road: Located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, Bibi Ka Maqbara is easily accessible by road.

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