Baby Taj Mahal – A Well Kept Secret

You’ve read about the Taj Mahal in Agra but wonder of wonders does not just end there. Are you aware that there is also a baby Taj Mahal in Agra? Well! I for once was not aware of that so you can imagine my curiosity to see it. I thought it would be a poor miniature of the real thing. Miniature, Yes it was. Poor, by no means. Also called the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, the baby Taj is also a Mughal mausoleum located on the banks of river Yamuna.

Red Sandstone Door
Red Sandstone Doorway Marking Entrance To The Baby Taj Mahal

A Lesson In History

The Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah was commissioned by Empress Nur Jahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg who was a Persian Amir in exile. Born in Tehran, Mirza Ghiyas Beg immigrated to India with his family after the death of his father. He was enrolled into service by Emperor Akbar and was appointed Diwan (treasurer) for the province of Kabul. Due to his astute business skills, Ghiyas Beg quickly rose through the ranks and was awarded the title of “Itimad-ud-Daulah” or the “Pillar Of The State”. Mirza Ghiyas Beg died in 1622 near Kangra when the Mughal camp was en route to its summer residence in Kashmir. His body was taken back to Agra and buried on the eastern bank of river Yamuna. His final resting place is today known as the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah.

The Need For Guide

With Google and Wiki pages open, we really did not feel the need for a guide so, did not hire one. Although, it would be advisable to hire a guide if you are fascinated with history because I am sure my family must have missed a few key details. However, remember to bargain for a good price. Also, it would not be remiss for me to mention here that you cannot wear footwear of any kind inside the actual tomb. Hence, either be prepared to take them off or carry a pair of disposable shoe covers.

A Sight For Sore Eyes

The Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah is the very centrepiece of Char Bagh or the “Four Gardens”. It marks the age of transition in Mughal architecture. Until now Mughals favored extensive use of the robust red sandstone. However, in the Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, red sandstone was used to bring out the ethereal beauty of white marble. Such a deviation was seen for the first time.

The tomb itself is a work of art. You can imagine its beauty with the mere fact that even my kids were for once not bickering and fighting with each other. The quietness of the compound just adds to the serene environment of the shrine.  The two-storeyed tomb sits on a low red sandstone platform. It has four hexagonal minarets with “chhatris” on top. The entire tomb is built of white marble intricately decorated with colored mosaic and lattice work. The Pietra Dura or the stone inlay artwork adds to the charm and sanctity of the structure.

Inside the Shrine

The central chamber of the tomb houses the yellow marble cenotaphs of I’timad-ud-Daulah and his wife. The yellow marble is quite unique in itself as it gives the appearance of wood. The lattice windows allow sunlight to gently illuminate the inside of the chamber. Notable is the fact that these lattice windows are made of a single slab of marble. The interior walls are embellished with colored mosaic inlaid with semi-precious stones. Geometric patterns along with painted bouquets of flowers, wine decanters and trees adorn the walls in a mesmerizing manner.

There are other shrines around the central chamber. In the absence of a guide, I am assuming these are the shrines of his children. I may well be wrong in assuming that and this is exactly why I advice you to hire a guide. Sometimes they are a necessary evil who can impart the missing information.    

 Outside The Shrine

Red Sandstone Balcony Overlooking River Yamuna
Red Sandstone Jharokha Overlooking River Yamuna

All around the shrine are the four gardens which I am sure must be a sight to behold during the spring season. Since we went in January, which was still winters, they were just green. Facing the river Yamuna is a red sandstone Jharokha or balcony. Open and airy, this is the best place to sit and admire the shrine of I’timad-ud-Daulah and also to click a few selfies.  


All’s well that ends well. So, ended my weekend escapade in the historic city of Agra. I did miss a few spots like the Akbar’s tomb, Mehtab Bagh and the tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani to name a few. But I guess that is exactly why another trip is guaranteed in near future. If you want to cover all the major historic sites, including the Agra Fort, do give yourself a couple of days (5-6) to take in all that the city has to offer.

For shopping enthusiasts the place to be is the “Sadar Bazaar”. From shoes to boots and leather jackets to bags you will be hard-pressed to deny your favorites. The deal becomes even better with pocket friendly eating joints to tantalize your taste buds. So, have a good time in Agra. Wish you happy holidays. Enjoy and have fun.

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