Bibi-Ka-Maqbara – The Tomb of Begum Rabia-ud-Durrani

Now this is called Competition..

DSC04305Grand Father built a monument dedicated to his wife and Grand Son builds for his mother. Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, may not be called as a wonder but is beautiful in many aspects. It is at a very picturesque location surrounded by lush lawns and behind it is a conserved natural habitat. I had heard about this many times and was very anxious for the visit. It was cloudy when I visited this place and the weather felt awesome.

DSC04436This mausoleum was built between the years 1551 – DSC044241561 A.D. by prince Azam Shah in memory of his mother. The monument stands within an enclosed wall. Between the outer wall and the inner wall is a octagonal gateway. This gateway is on the southern DSC04429side of the outer wall.  The beauty starts with this gateway. Inside of this gateway is carved all across from bottom to top. The ceiling and the designs above the lintel are fine examples of Bengal architDSC04431ecture. Below the lintel are extremely beautiful floral designs. Various colors like green and red dominate the others. This is clearly a Mohammedan architecture, Persian in this instance. As this monument is a product of effort from Hindu and Islamic workers, we see a mixture of architectures. All these designs are made on plaster on top of black stone. There are rooms in this gateway which were observation points. Now they are used by the Archaeological Department.

DSC04425Once the gateway is crossed, we enter the inner complex. There is a fortified wall enclosing this. There are bastions on all four sides and tower like structures are erected as a sequence on top of the wall. We have the first look of the monument from here. I instantly liked the construction. It is erected at the center of a high platform with four minarets at each corner just like the Taj. There is a short wall on either side which provides a pathway to reach the monument. The Taj DSC04434does not have this design. Taj has an open garden with larger fountains. To the left of the Maqbara is the Masjid. This was constructed during the Nizam era.

Some part of the black stones were repaired in recent times but the part below the dome is still the old part which still shines today. The lower body and the dome is built of pure marble, decorated with beautiful carvings, whereas the middle portion is of basaltic trap, covered with fine lime plaster rendered with a marble finish and finally adorned with stucco work. It DSC04410is said that the cost of the construction was 6, 86, 203 RuDSC04399pees and 7 Annas which was accumulated by selling one bangle. There are 40 rooms in the basement where lime was ground and plaster prepared for the construction.  In front of the tomb is a row of fountains which were operational till 35 years ago. The water source is on a nearby hill and gets stored in a tank in front of the MaqbaDSC04394ra and converges to the fountains on three sides. At the basement are two doors which lead to the upper platform on which the monument is constructed. The doors are made of wood with brass plating which has amazing floral designs.  An inscription on the main entrance door mentions that this monument was designed and erected by Ata-Ulla, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an Engineer.

DSC04393The external of the monument is designed with jali framework for easy ventilation. The ventilation is at the front and the rear. The frontal part of the Maqbara is extremely beautiful with floral panels designed on plaster. The wall is divided into rectangular sections with varying length and breadth and these floral designs are carved. Some of the designs have blackened due to the weather conditions but are still beautiful.

DSC04374The entrance that goes inside the tomb is small and narrow. Inside is an octagonal balcony bounded by a wall of short height. The floor is entirely of marble. The side walls lead up to an upper balcony with windows which provide the necessary ventilation. Further up is are four enclosed spaces above every alternate balcony and above which is the dome. Below the dome is a row of stucco work on black stone. The balcony walls are made of pure marble.  Down below is the grave of Begum Rabia-ud-Durrani.  A red and green cloth (chaddar) is placed over the grave. Surrounding the grave stone is a marble partition which has nice meshed desiDSC04378gn with floral work. It opens to a door which leads to a flight of stairs outside the tomb.

If you stand at one end inside the tomb facing the main entrance, you see a perfect symmetry of the fountains in the front, the line passing through the center of the grave stone below and to the fountains at the back of the monument. Everything was perfectly planned and executed. The walls here are again decorated with awesome flower designs on plaster. As this is away from the external weather effects, the plaster still shines like marble.

DSC04405There is water tank to the left of the monument which transfers water to the fountains. The source of the water is one more hill which is at a distance. The water flows through stone pipes under the monument which came out through stone fountains of that time. However, as I mentioned earlier, these fountains stopped working 35 years ago and now they serve only as a decorative series. At the far end of the fountain is a building which served as the Diwan-i-Am, tDSC04419he public audience hall. There is another building at one side which was the Diwan-i-Khas. These buildings contain beautiful paintings of Mughal and Nizam era.

As mentioned earlier, there are four minarets at each corner. Each minaret has staircase to reach to the top but are closed today owing to people using them as suicide points.

The Mughal garden, Living Water Management System, Pavements which are ornamented with little kiosks, finely worked brass doors rank this monument as one of the best of of the Mughal Buildings of India.

Although this monument is colloquially called the “Mini Taj”, I seriously doubt. I have not visited The Taj Mahal. But I can say one thing. It cannot be compared to it. This is still looked as a tomb,  but we are talking about The Taj.

We will now bid adieu to Aurangabad and proceed further to Khultabad.

  • Rupali

    Indeed a great article Hari. Loved the way you have detailed about the beauty of the monument and also great pics. Keep writing more.

    • admin

      Rupali.. Thanks a lot for encouraging. It is people like you who inspire to write more and more..

  • Pattu

    I have only heard of this place! Lovely posts with painstaking small details, making me look for more information. I do wonder about those artisans, who did so much of intricate work on stone and masonry. What happened to their art,not passed down to generations? I look at monuments and wonder.

    • admin

      Hello Pattu,

      Thanks a lot. The artisans have passed the knowledge to their further generation but that has faded in time.

      However, you can find the artwork in places like Bidar, Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram where the current generation still carry forward the legacy.


      Hari Narayana


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