Bibi-ka-Maqbara: The Taj of the Deccan

Bibi-ka-Maqbara image

Bibi-ka-Maqbara imageTomb of the Lady: Is there another Taj Mahal in India? Yes. There is a replica of the Taj at Aurangabad in Maharashtra. A beautiful mausoleum made by a son for his mother. Prince Azam Shah (son of the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb) constructed this lookalike of Taj Mahal for his mother Rabia-ul-Daurani. Because of its resemblance with the Taj Mahal of Agra, it is often referred as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’.

History:  The Maqbara was built between 1651-1661 A.D. Aurangzeb was not interested in constructing this mausoleum and hence, he was not keen on spending much wealth. The cost of constructing the Maqbara is believed to be only seven lakhs! A meagre amount as compared to 32 million spent on building the Taj Mahal. He even blocked the movement of marbles from various parts of the country and delayed the construction work. But today, the fact remains that the Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the largest monument that Aurangzeb has to his credit. Azam Shah was strongly influenced by his grandfather Shah Jahan who built the Taj for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal but surely lacked the access to the royal treasury and the skilled labourers as well. That results in a poor imitation of the original masterpiece. Bibi-ka-Maqbara was designed by Ata-ullah, son of Ustad Ahmed Lahauri, the chief architect behind the Taj Mahal.

Architecture: Just like Taj Mahal, it is a symbol of the typical Mughal architecture. The Charbagh or a Persian style of garden layout, is another distinct feature of Bibi-ka-Maqbara where quadrilateral garden space is divided into four smaller parts.

The mausoleum stands on an elevated square-shaped platform with four minarets at its corners. It can be accessed from three sides. The narrow walkway from the main gate has a series of fountains at the centre and is flanked by lush green gardens. A closer encounter reveals that it is not entirely made out of marble, as it lacks the shine.

The Maqbara is crowned by an onion dome. The main dome and minarets are smaller than the Taj Mahal. It is encased with marble only up to the dado level i.e. only the lower sections. The upper portion is constructed with a high-quality plaster, which gives a marble-like finish. However, the main dome is made of marble. Because of the use of such alternatives of marble, it is also referred as the ‘Poor Man’s Taj’. The moral remains can be viewed from the ground level inside an exquisitely designed marble chamber.

Location: 5 kms from Aurangabad via Nagpur-Aurangabad-Mumbai Highway and Maqbara Road and 6 kms from Station Roda/Ambedkar Road.

How to Reach?

By Train: Aurangabad is the nearest railway station, which is approximately 12 kms from Bibi-ka-Maqbara.
By Road: If you are in Aurangabad, the best option is take an auto rickshaw to visit Bibi-ka-Maqbara. You can also avail the city buses or hire a private car.
By Flight: The airport at Aurangabad is well connected with all the major cities of India. It is 11 kms away from Bibi-ka-Maqbara.

Things to Remember

  • Timings: 8am to 8pm on all days.
  • Entry Fees: Rs. 10/person for Indians and Rs. 250/person for foreigners.
  • Best Time to Visit: October to March would be the best time to visit this place as the weather remains very pleasant.

Other Attractions around Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Aurangabad Caves: There are 12 rock-cut Buddhist shrines located on a hill just 2 kms north from Bibi-ka-Maqbara. You will get a panoramic view of the city of Aurangabad from the top.

Panchakki: A monument displaying the extremely scientific process of generating energy that existed in the medieval period. It is just 2.5 kms from Bibi-ka-Maqbara.

Related Information:

A Miniature of Taj Mahal: The Mausoleum of Itmad-ud-Daulah in Agra
Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur – Taj Mahal of Marwar
Twenty Facts About the Taj Mahal