Ours was a group of four adults and two children, traveling all the way from Pune to Aurangabad. This trip was due for quite some time and finally we planned it over a long weekend in August 2014. We started early. Around 6 in the morning. It was Independence Day. Aurangabad is approximately 235kmn from Pune via Ahmednagar. For breakfast we stopped at the Smile Stone restaurant just before Ahmednagar at around 8am. In this endeavor, we planned to cover Bibi-ka-Maqbara in Aurangabad, Ajanta Caves, Daulatabad Fort and Ellora Caves. We stayed at Hotel VITS Aurangabad. You can make online bookings to strike a good deal as we did. They have sufficient parking space within the hotel premises.
After a much required refreshing bath and a good buffet lunch at the hotel, we were all geared up to visit one the main attractions in Aurangabad, Bibi-ka-Maqbara (Tomb of the Lady). A beautiful mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani, the first wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. It is constructed by her son Prince Azam Shah between 1651-1661 A.D. Due to its similarity with the Taj Mahal it is also known as the ‘Dakkhani Taj’. The history book says Emperor Aurangzeb was not keen spending much wealth on making this tomb and thus allocated only 7 lakhs! He was not in favor of making this mausoleum and even blocked the movement of marbles coming from Jaipur, Rajasthan and various other parts of the Mughal Empire. I wonder why?
Bibi-ka-Maqbara is a reflection of s typical Mughal architecture with Char-Bagh pattern. This is a Persian style of garden layout where the quadrilateral garden space is divided (by walkways or flowing water) to four smaller parts. The Taj Mahal is also built in the same pattern.
The Maqbara is built on an elevated square-shaped platform with four minarets at its corners. The walkway from the main gate has a series of fountains at the center and it is flanked by lush green gardens. The Maqbara looked beautiful from the entrance. But a closer look revealed that it is not fully made out of marble. It lacks the polish of the marble. It is covered with marble only up to the dado level.
The upper portion is constructed with a high quality plaster, which gives a marble-like finish. Because of the use such alternatives of marble it is also referred as the ‘Poor Man’s Taj’. The Maqbara is crowned by a dome which is made of marble. The moral remains can be viewed from the ground level through on opening. The small marble chamber is exquisitely designed.
Although continuously been compared with the majestic Taj, I felt the Bibi-ka-Maqbara has its own charm. It is a tribute from a son to his mother. May be the outcome would have been different, had he been the Emperor during that time. May be it would have surpassed the Taj! Who knows?
Have you visited the Maqbara? Do share your thoughts with me.