Bibi Ka Maqbara. Mausoleum in Maharashtra, India

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Mausoleum in Maharashtra, India

Bibi Ka Maqbara Photo © Aur Rang Abad

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Bibi Ka Maqbara

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Bibi Ka Maqbara - Aurangabad - Bibi Ka Maqbara
Bibi Ka Maqbara - Aurangabad - Bibi Ka Maqbara. Photo by Olivier
Bibi Ka Maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) is a magnificent mausoleum in memory of Aurangzeb’s wife, Dilras Banu Begum (or Rabia-ud-Daurani as she is known posthumously), at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India. Commissioned by the sixth Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, with some persuasion from his son, Azam Shah, it was inspired by the design of the incomparable Taj Mahal, the tomb of Aurangzeb’s mother, Mumtaz Mahal. It is the comparison of the mausoleum with the Taj Mahal that takes away from it, the credit that is due to its own beautiful design and charm. Nevertheless, it is often referred to as the Taj Mahal of the Deccan.


There is a considerable lack of clarity on whether the mausoleum was built by the Emperor, or Prince Mohammad Azam Shah. Dilras Banu Begum was Aurangzeb’s first wife and Azam Shah was the first son born to her. She died in 1657, from medical complications after the delivery of her fifth child. At the time of her death, Azam Shah was just four years old. Aurangzeb was well known for his frugality. Deeply religious, he led the simplest life compared to the emperors that preceded him. Aurangzeb did have a monument in mind for his favorite consort, but on a much smaller scale. Not in the same league as the other Moghul Emperors who were great builders, he had only the Pearl Mosque which he had built within the Red Fort, to his credit.

Azam Shah, who suffered a nervous breakdown when his mother died, and was taken care of by his doting elder sister, was committed to building a memorial for his mother. It appears that Azam Shah finally prevailed on the Emperor to agree to a budget of ₨ 700,000 ($11,000) to build the monument. The effort to approach the high standards of the Taj Mahal, was therefore never realizable because the wonder at Agra was built at the cost of 22 million INR, 26 years earlier. Though Azam Shah governed a few provinces at the time, his resources were limited. The construction of the Bibi Ka Muqbara began in 1763 and was completed in 1679, with about ₨ 50,000 ($800) to spare.


The mausoleum was designed and built by Ataullah, an architect, along with Hanspat Rai, an engineer. Atullah was the son of Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the chief architect of the Taj Mahal,. The mausoleum, facing south, is built in the center of a huge enclosure almost half a kilometer in length and a quarter kilometer wide. The enclosure wall is dotted with arched recesses and bastions at regular intervals. The recesses are crowned by small minarets and divided by pilasters. Other than the southern wall, on which is the main gate, the other three sides have pillared pavilions or Baradaris (Wikipedia Article) in the center.

Bibi Ka Maqbara (longshot)
	- Bibi Ka Maqbara
Bibi Ka Maqbara (longshot). Photo by Danial Chitnis

The garden around the mausoleum is laid out in a Charbagh (four gardens separated by raised pathways, denoting the four rivers of Paradise) in typical Moghul style, enhancing the beauty of the mausoleum. The garden is well laid out with water channels interspersed with fountains. The mausoleum rests on a raised square platform, and is reached by flights of steps from three sides. Four minarets, resembling those of the Taj Mahal are built on the four corners of the platform. Each minaret is divided into two equal halves by a balcony around it. The balcony at the top of the minaret is covered by a chatri (Wikipedia Article), an umbrella shaped like the dome of the mausoleum and are topped by Guldastas (spires).

Bibi-ka-Maqbara - Agra, India - Bibi Ka
Bibi-ka-Maqbara - Agra, India - Bibi Ka Maqbara. Photo by Tim Carter
To the west of the mausoleum, is a mosque that was built by Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jha II, much later which necessitated the closing of the western gate of the enclosure. The Nizam later transferred his capital to Hyderabad and was called the Nizam of Hyderabad.
To visitors the enclosure is accessible by a main gate on the South Wall. Foliage designs on brass plates are mounted on wood to decorate the gate. Beyond the gate are a small tank and a broad pathway, leading to the mausoleum. The pathway is split into two by a channel of water, with a series of fountains in the middle, and is lined by screened walls that are about a meter and a half in height. Despite the budgetary limitations, Azam Shah managed to get some marble from Rajasthan. The walls of the mausoleum are encased in marble up to the dado level. Above that, the walls are made of basaltic trap rock till the base of the dome. The walls are covered in white plaster that is finely polished and is adorned with stucco decorations. The dome itself is built of marble and is the shape of an onion topped with an ornate guldasta (Wikipedia Article). It is pierce carved with trellis work and floral designs which decorate the exterior.

Below the ground level, in an octagonal chamber, are placed the mortal remains of the deceased Empress Rabia-ud-Daurani, surrounded by marble screens. The screens are pierce carved with exquisite designs and form an octagon around the tomb. The chamber in which the tomb is, can be reached from the ground level by descending a flight of steps. An octagonal opening, barricaded by low marble screens, also allows visitors on the ground floor to see the tomb.


Visiting the Monument

Aurangabad is well connected to the other major cities in India by air, rail, and road. The monument is 7 miles away from the heart of the city and takes about 7 hours of driving from Mumbai (186 miles), and 22 hours from Delhi (621 miles). There are three flights arriving in Aurangabad from each of the cities every day. The mausoleum is open from 8 AM to 8 PM every day and an entry fee of ₨ 10 ($0.16) is charged for Indian nationals. Foreigners have to pay an entry fee of ₨ 250 ($4.00).

The City

There are many other places of interest in the city like Panchakki, Bhadkal Gate, Mehmood Darwaza (door) and the Daulatabad Fort, within close distance of the mausoleum. Being a size-able city, accommodation is available for all budgets. The best time to visit the city is from October to March as the weather is pleasant. The summer months are rather hot and stuffy.

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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Jan 04, 2015

Pictures of Bibi Ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara - Bibi Ka Maqbara
Bibi ka Maqbara - Photo by Shriram Rajagopalan


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