Having a striking resemblance to Taj Mahal, the Bibi ka Maqbara is a beautiful mausoleum of Rabia- Ul - Daurani alias Dilras Banu Begum, the wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Bibi ka Maqbara was constructed by Aurangzeb in the year 1661 in the memory of his wife. Aurangzeb attributed this magnificent edifice in the name of his son Azam Shah who was born in the year 1653, so as to commemorate Rabia - Ul - Daurani, who left for her heavenly abode in the year 1657.
The monument resembles the famous Taj Mahal, as the main inspiration for building the design was from here and is often referred to as the Taj of the Deccan. Bibi ka Maqbara intended to rival the Taj Mahal, but because of the decline in architecture and the proportions of the structure, it completely resulted in a copied form of the same. Incidentally, this is one of the largest structures to have been built during Aurangzeb's reign. The mausoleum is a very popular attraction and the monument along with the backdrop of the mountain ranges bring out something beautiful.
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Features of Bibi ka Maqbara
Gardens- Bibi ka Maqbara has four gardens based on Charbagh design like most of the Mughal gardens. The Maqbara is divided into four equal parts with the main mausoleum at the centre. Each of the gardens has one building and they all are equidistant. On the east is the Jamait khana or Aina khana while on the west is a mosque. On the north side is a Baradari and on the south is the main entrance which is a huge two-floored building. Throughout the garden, water courses are laid which are lined with cypress, pine and palm trees. The gardens are lush green lawns with many seasonal flowers and colourful roses planted alongside the pathways. At the centre of the pathways leading to four sides are oblong reservoirs with a total of 61 fountains. The water passes through marble carved sheets connected to internal wells in the buildings. Besides this, there are several uniquely designed cisterns in the garden.
Main Mausoleum- Designed and erected by Ata-Ullah, the main mausoleum is built on a raised platform at an elevation of 19 feet and has the Queen’s tomb inside it. On the top of the huge white dome, there is a brass pot finial and four smaller domes enclosing the bigger one. The minars are 72 feet high and there is a flight of stairs which leads you to the top. Inside the main mausoleum, marble jalis cover all the four sides of the upper floor from where you can spot the tomb of Rabia-ud-Durrani.
Water Channels- The water required to maintain the huge garden was used from several sources. It was supplied through underground water channels from Nahar-e-Begumpura, which is in close proximity to the Maqbara. Within the premises also, there is a separate tank called the Haathi Hauz. Water was also taken from the famous Nahar-e-Ambari, a water distribution system created by Malik Amber in 1617. Besides, the garden has many water tanks, cisterns and reservoirs for supplying water. However, over time the condition of these devices has deteriorated and due to the shortage of water, the fountains have dried up.
Maqbara Complex- Enclosed by high walls, the area of the Maqbara complex is 15000 square feet. There is a pavilion on each of the four corners of the wall. The cupolas or rounded domes are octagonal with eight pillars and the cupola roofs are supported on brackets and lintels.
Ornamental Elements- Apart from architectural wonders like domes, minarets, gardens and arches, Bibi ka Maqbara has stunning decorative elements which are distinctive of the Mughal style and add beauty to the complex. In the making of the Maqbara, stucco painting and stucco plaster were used instead of rich elements like mosaic, marble screens or peitra dura. The patterns in stucco paintings are mostly geometric, floral, inscriptional and conventional. In the Maqbara, the main entrance ceiling has an amazing geometric design. Besides this, relief ornamentation can be seen in the main mausoleum which has the designs of lotus medallions, rosettes, and mehrab with floral and leaf patterns. Jali work or Latticework is also heavily used in which immaculate floral, leaf or geometric designs are cut out in marble screens. Glazed tiling, an ancient technique used extensively in Egypt, can also be found here inside the tanks, cisterns and reservoirs. Although calligraphy has not been used much, there is a wall inside the mosque which has the 99 names of Allah written in calligraphy.
History of Bibi ka Maqbara
Dilras Banu Begum was a princess belonging to the Persian Safavid Dynasty and was married to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on 8 May 1637. She went on to become Aurangzeb's chief consort and most beloved wife as well. She and Aurangzeb had five children - Zeb-un-Nissa, Zinat-un-Nissa, Zubdat-un-Nissa, Muhammad Azam Shah and Sultan Muhammad Akbar. After the birth of their fifth child, Dilras Banu Begum contracted a fever which proved to be fatal and she died on 8 October 1657.
Aurangzeb was deeply afflicted due to his beloved wife's death and their eldest son Azam Shah suffered greatly as well, so much so that he had a nervous breakdown. In 1660, three years after the death of Dilras Banu Begum, Aurangzeb commissioned the construction of her final resting place. Bibi ka Maqbara is said to be built in between 1651 and 1661. According to the records, the cost of construction of the mausoleum was about seven lakh rupees. The monument was designed and erected by Ata-Ullah, the architect and Hanspat Rai as the engineer. The marbles used in the construction were brought from the mines in Jaipur. Here, Dilras was buried under the posthumous title of 'Rabia-ud-Daurani'.
Bibi Ka Maqbara Vs Taj Mahal
Bibi ka Maqbara has been widely compared to the flamboyant Taj Mahal due to a similarity in structures and is therefore also addressed as “Taj of Deccan” or “Dakkhani Taj”. However, the two monuments are different and beautiful in their own ways. In the Taj Mahal, direct access to the main structure is restricted. However, the Maqbara has direct access to the main mausoleum. The Maqbara is also smaller in size than the Taj Mahal.
While the Taj is located at the extreme end of the char bagh, the Maqbara is at the centre. Right from its entrance structure, only marble is used in the making of Taj Mahal. At the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, except for the central portion of the main mausoleum, the rest of the building is constructed with red stone, lime and stucco plaster. The dome of the Taj Mahal is rounded with four small kiosks around it, while the Maqbara’s dome is a little more vertical. Overall, Bibi ka Maqbara is known for its austerity and simplicity in architecture while the Taj Mahal is famous for its purity and flamboyancy.
Best Time To Visit
October - March are the best months to visit Bibi ka Maqbara.
How To Reach Bibi ka Maqbara
Bibi ka Maqbara is situated around 5 km from the heart of Aurangabad city. You can opt for a public transport like an autorickshaw or bus or hire a taxi to reach the Maqbara. It is advisable to fix the tariff priorly in case you are travelling by autorickshaw.