Bibi Ka Maqbara
Sits proudly as a symbol of remembrance and is almost identical from its inspiration and the world-renowned memento of love, The Taj Mahal, Bibi Ka Maqbara is a stunning monument situated in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and is one of the most visited places in India. Although taking an inspiration from the Taj Mahal, Bibi Ka Maqbara represents a son’s love for his mother and has its own wandering evocations. Also known as the Tomb of the Lady, Bibi Ka Maqbara was designed by Ataullah, son of Ahmad Lahauri, the architect of Taj Mahal which explains the identical appearance of the monument.
The tomb of Rabia Durani or Bibi Ka Maqbara was commissioned and constructed in 1668 by Azam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb. The tomb was built to commemorate his mother Dilras Begum who was titled Rabia Durani after her death. Due to its identical architecture as that of Taj Mahal, the mausoleum Bibi Ka Maqbara is also fondly called as the Taj of the Deccan or the Dakkhani Taj. Because of the long-existing reign of Aurangzeb in Aurangabad, that the shrine came to be in the city and is one of the most visited historical monuments in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
Though both the edifices Taj Mahal and Bibi ka Maqbara are related to each other in more than one way, yet they are separated by time, distance, and magnitude and are an exquisite depiction of love, loss, and remembrance. While the Taj Mahal belongs to Aurangzeb’s mother, Bibi Ka Maqbara is dedicated to his wife. Both these tombs perfectly immortalise these royal women in the chapter of time and alludes to the last influential Mughal emperor.
The story of Dilras Banu is like an enchanting fairy tale of the history. Princess Dilras was born in the Safavid royal family of Iran and was the daughter of Shahnawaz Khan, the then viceroy of the state of Gujarat. She was married to Aurangzeb is 1637 and thus became his first consort and wife. The couple had five children and after giving birth to her fifth child, Dilras died.
Aurangzeb was said to be grief stricken along with his eldest son Azam Shah as they both couldn’t bear the loss of the most significant woman in their lives. It took them some time and effort to come out of their grief-stricken misery. In 1668, Azam Shah ordered a mausoleum to be constructed in the memory of his beloved mother. The mausoleum was to be constructed on the lines of Taj Mahal, which was the place where Aurangzeb’s mother and Banu’s mother-in-law Mumtaz Mahal was rested. It is also to be noted that both the women died of complications incurred during childbirth.
The tomb of Bibi Ka Maqbara was meant to be as splendid as the Taj Mahal itself but because of strict budget allocated to the construction, the mausoleum could only result in fairly decent imitation of the world’s wonder. One of the main highlights of Mughal architecture was that the architects gave special emphasis on a water body beside the structure they created along with a exquisite Charbagh garden and Bibi ka Maqbara was no exception. During the time of its construction, River Kham could be seen streaming down behind the tomb along with a Charbagh-styled garden at the centre with structures in four directions. Surrounded by high walls, the area of the mausoleum comprises of 15000 sq. feet with a pavilion on each of the four corners of the wall. The domes or cupolas are octagonal in shape with eight pillars with roof supported on brackets and lintels.
Towards the north of the tomb is a 12-door Baradari, towards the south is the main entrance, to the west is a mosque, and a structure called as Aina Khana or the mirror chamber faces the east. The Maqbara has a white dome like any other Islamic architecture which has panels decorated with detailed designs of flowers. On all four sides there are minarets with stairs leading to the tomb on three sides and the pathways are adorned with trees and grass on both sides which enhances its beauty. There is a water pool outside with cisterns of octagonal shape and the middle of the pathway comprises of 61 fountains and 488 ft long with 96 ft long reservoirs.
Things to See Inside the Bibi Ka Maqbara Complex
- Char Bagh Gardens : Bibi Ka Maqbara has four gardens based on the infamous Charbagh design of the Mughal architecture. The Maqbara is split into four parts with the main mausoleum in the centre and each garden has one structure which are all equidistant. These four structure are Aina Khana, mosque, Baradari, and the main entrance which are in east, west, north, and south directions respectively. The gardens are laid with cypress, pine, and palm trees with water channels and have luscious green lawn with vibrant flowers. The centre of pathways has oblong reservoirs with a total of 61 fountains and many uniquely designed cisterns in the garden.
- Main Mausoleum : Designed by Ata-Ullah, the son of the architect of Taj Mahal, the main mausoleum is set on a raised platform with an elevation of 19 feet and houses the tomb of the queen inside it. The tomb has a huge dome on top which has a brass pot finial on top and four smaller domes surrounding the bigger dome. The minarets on four sides are 72 feet long with flight of stairs leading to the top. Inside the chief mausoleum, lattice work jalis cover the four corners of the upper floor from where the tomb of the queen is visible.
- Water Channels : Water was sourced from distinct channels to maintain the huge garden. It was mainly supplied from underground water channels from Nahar-e-Begumpura, which is nearby Maqbara. There is an individual tank in the premises as well which is called as the Hathi Hauz. Another channel was the Nahar-e-Ambari which was a water distribution system created by Amber in 1617. Apart from this, the garden has water tanks, cisterns, and reservoirs for water supply but most of them dried up now and the fountains no longer work.
- Ornamental Elements : Along with the apparent domes, minarets, gardens, and arches, Bibi Ka Maqbara has some exquisite adornments in its walls that are worth witnessing. While creating the mausoleum, stucco painting and stucco plaster were used which are usually geometric, inscriptional, floral, and conventional patterns instead of usual elements like mosaic, marble screens, or peitra dura. Stunning geometric design can be seen on the main entrance ceiling while the main mausoleum is studded with relief ornamentation consisting of deigns like lotus medallions, rosettes, and mehrab with flower and leaf patterns. Other elements such as Lattice work with beautiful floral and geometric patterns in marble screens, glazed tiling inside the tanks and reservoirs, and 99 names of Allah written in calligraphy inside the mosque are all that makes the tomb an exquisite work of art.
- Rabia-ud-Durani, the title given to Dilras Banu Begum was ascribed to an Iranian noble lady Rabia Basra, renowned for her benevolent nature.
- The white marble used for the construction of the monument was sourced from the marble mines in Jaipur.
- The tomb is estimated to have costed around Rs. 6-7 lakhs.
- It is believed that the marble used for the construction of the structure were carried in ox-pulled carts.
Timing and Entry Fees
The timings for Bibi Ka Maqbara are 8am to 8pm and it is open all days of the week.
The ticket price is INR 25 for Indians, SAARC and BIMSTEC visitors and INR 300 for foreigners. You can buy the ticket at the ticket counter of the mausoleum or pre-book it online.
Best Time to Visit
You can visit Bibi Ka Maqbara at any time of the year, but the best time would be from October to March as the weather remains pleasant and you can explore the area without sweating under the sun.
Attractions near Bibi Ka Maqbara
- Jama Masjid (2 km) : It is one of the oldest mosques of Aurangabad and is known for its grand Islamic architecture. This is the largest mosque in Aurangabad and was built during the Mughal period which was later on extended by Aurangzeb.
- Panchakki (2 km) : Situated near Bibi Ka Maqbara, Panchakki is a water mill complex comprising of a court, a madrasa, the house of a minister, a mosque, homes dedicated to females, and a sarai. It has a beautiful location surrounded blues of the sky and lush greenery and is an ideal picnic spot on a weekend.
- Soneri Mahal (2 km): The last remaining palace in the city is the Soneri Mahal which derived its name from the golden paintings that decorated its walls in the past. It has a grand architecture with intricate ornamental elements and a garden. The palace now has a museum which showcases ancient pottery, sculptures, household items, relics, and remains of the local palaces. The palace is also the spot where Ajanta and Ellora Caves festival is held where dancers and musicians grace the place for four days.
- Gul Mandi (2.5 km) : An old and well-established biggest local market of Aurangabad, Gul Mandi trades the famous Himroo shawls and sarees. Himroo is known for its cloth and detailed design inspired by peacocks, flowers, etc. from the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (2.7 km) : Established in the honour of the Maratha ruler the Great Shivaji, the museum has some marvellous assortment of artefacts associated with the Maratha empire. The highlight is the 500-year old armour, an age old traditional Paithani Saree, and a copy of the Holy Quran written by Aurangzeb. It has 6 exhibition halls and attracts several visitors every day.
- Aurangabad Caves (3 km) : Aurangabad Caves are 12 rock-cut Buddhist shrines dating back to the 6th and 8th century and are different from the Ajanta Ellora Caves. These are carved out of soft basalt rock and mostly consist of Buddhist Viharas. From the top of the location, a breath-taking view of the city can be seen.
- Himayat Bagh (3 km) : It is a stunning 400-acre garden constructed in the 17th century during the rule of Aurangzeb. The garden houses a pool and a serene nursery where you can find different species of flora. It is an absolute heaven for the nature and photography lovers.
- Goga Baba Hill : Located on the outskirts of Aurangabad, the hill is an apt place for the trekkers or nature lovers. From the top of the hill, you can witness a panoramic view of the city and there is a small temple at the hill which can accommodate only 2 people at a time.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is Aurangabad airport in Chikkalthana at 11km of distance from Bibi ka Maqbara. The airport receives flights from all major cities of India.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Aurangabad railway station at 6km away which receives trains from all neighbouring cities and states.
By Road: Central Bus Stand is the nearest bus stand at 3.5 km away from the monument.