Taj of Deccan, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
No it is not the Taj Mahal, it is the Taj of Deccan. I have not seen the Taj Mahal yet; probably that is why I could be in awe at this stupendous monument. Popularly known as Bibi ka Maqbara meaning Tomb of the Lady is the mausoleum of Aurangazeb’s fourth wife, Rabia-ul Durrani. Prince Azam Shah built the tomb in memory of his mother.
This monument is in so many ways similar to Taj Mahal, but not the exact replica. The failure was due to severe constraints on finance and lack of architectural skills. Taj of Deccan is built within a complex measuring 450m by 275m. There are ponds, fountains, and water channels, stone screens and lined with broad pathways. Well maintained trees were adding beauty to the pathway.
An inscription here reads: “Ata-Ulla, an architect and Hanspati Rai an engineer designed and erected this mausoleum. It took 10 years to complete the work from 1651 to 1661AD”. It was modeled on the Taj Mahal at Agra, Uttar Pradesh. There is the central tomb with four minarets at four corners of the raised square platform.
Aurangzeb was not in favor of building this monument. His son Alam Shah was determined to have a monument to his mother that might vie with the Taj Mahal of Agra. And Alam Shah prevailed upon his father who eventually relented.
Mortal remains of Rabia-ul Durrani are at a lower level in an octagonal enclosure made of marble screens. The lady lays here alone, while in Taj Mahal of Agra the lovers are laid side by side. Most noteworthy was the tomb covered with a rich silk sheet. People were throwing coins on it. What a contrast when compared with the tomb of her husband Emperor Aurangazeb which is few kilometers away at Khuldabad!
The middle portion is covered with plaster and given a marble finish. Seems like time is leaving its bad effects and the floral motifs in shell lime plaster are peeling off at places.
The lower body and tomb is made of pure marble. Impressive geometric and floral designs in marble…
Doors of Taj of Deccan
There are finely worked brass doors with floral motifs. Especially relevant are the exquisite designs on the marble screens and doors. No wonder this monument is one of the best Mughal buildings in Deccan!
When we visited there were hardly any visitors even in peak of winters.
How to Reach Taj of Deccan
By Train: Aurangabad is the nearest railway station, which is approximately 12kms from Bibi ka Maqbara.
By Road: If you are in Aurangabad, the best mode of travel will be auto rickshaw or taxi to visit Bibi-ka-Maqbara. You can also avail the local city buses.
Visit Timings: 8am to 8pm on all days.
Entry Fees to Taj of Deccan: Rs. 10 per person for Indians and Rs. 250 for foreigners.