Bibi Ka Maqbara: India’s Mini-Taj Mahal

The Muslim Mughal Empire ruled India in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Dynasty was founded by a Turkish chieftain. The Mughals (or Moguls) controlled vast areas of India and reached as far as Afghanistan. They erected many architectural marvels like the Taj Mahal and the Bibi Ka Maqbara.

Like the Taj Mahal, the replica has a central dome, surrounded by four smaller domes and four minarets. Four taller minarets complement this central structure. The pathway leading up to the mausoleum has fountains, pools and tall trees on both sides of the walkway. The ambience is uncanny — it is so similar to the Taj Mahal.

The Mini-Taj is perhaps half the size of the famous structure it was modeled after. Yet it is a monument worth admiring and considered to be the finest Mughal monument in the western India’s Deccan region.

We visited early in the morning when the air was chilly. The sounds of the aazan ― the muezzin’s call for the morning prayer, which wafted across from a nearby mosque ― added to the peaceful aura. To my untrained eye, the entire monument seemed to be carved of marble. The brass inlaid doors and especially the exquisite white marble lattice screens are a must-see. But look closely and you will find that limestone also contributes a fair share to this structure. Well, it isn’t dubbed as the “Poor Man’s Taj” for nothing.

The octagonal burial chamber of Rabia Durani that is enclosed within the main structure is built entirely of marble, and it has intricate carvings and rich tapestries. For some strange reason, I did not venture to step in and see it. I guess a grave, whether it is in the open or amidst marble splendor, does make one feel a trifle sad, or a tad philosophical.

All I could think of were the words of American poet Mary Elizabeth Frye [1905-2004]: “Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep. I am in a thousand winds that blow […].”

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