Bibi ka Maqbara at Aurangabad, Maharashtra is often called the Taj of Deccan or an imitation of the original Taj Mahal in Agra. It does look similar to the Taj Mahal and why not, the ladies belong to the same family. The one lying at Taj Mahal is the mother-in-law of the one lying here in Aurangabad. Another family tomb is Itmad-Ud-Daula at Agra where the family of Noorjehan is buried.
While the similarities between the two mausoleums have often been spoken about, let me point out some differences.
Differences between the Taj Mahal & Bibi ka Maqbara
- The most visible difference is the size. This monument is about one-third of the size of Taj Mahal. You would almost feel that someone has squeezed the Taj and kept it here. Or maybe this was the model that was built before the fine Taj was actually built.
- Taj Mahal is completely built in pure white marble that shines through while only a small part of this monument is built in marble. And the rest is lime plaster with stucco work on it. The marble for both the monuments came from Rajasthan and Agra is obviously far closer to the source than Aurangabad.
- Taj Mahal stands by the river Yamuna, while this monument has a backdrop of small hills of the rocky Deccan plateau.
- Minarets of Taj are round and tapering at the top while those of this monument are octagonal and almost straight.
- The actual tomb lies below in both but the one at Aurangabad can be seen by the visitors and has a lot of money thrown at it.
- A husband in the memory of his wife built the Taj while a son in the memory of his mother, i.e. Prince Azam Shah, built it for his mother Dilras Banu Begum who also happened to be Aurangzeb’s wife.
There is a controversy that Taj Mahal was probably a Hindu temple by the name Tejo Mahalaya while there is no such controversy associated with Bibi ka Maqbara that was built ab initio.
Of the similarities involve the sheer resemblance between the two with the same Char-bagh style gardens around the monument. The same family, of course, built both memorials for the women of the family, almost one after the other in mid 17th CE. The Jali work here is as intricate as in the most Mughal monuments and is probably their signature element. At Aurangabad, the Jaali work around the tomb lends an elegant beauty to the simple grave covered with green cloth. There is limited inlay work and one ceiling with geometric pattern is quite intriguing.
This is probably the biggest and may be the only built monument by the Mughals in South or Deccan. Maybe they were trying to re-create an Agra in Aurangabad. Maybe the grandson attempted to outdo his grandfather by building something similar or may be better. Or maybe they were just trying to keep a family tradition alive.
More than anything else, I think they left the stories behind for us to talk and wonder about.
Other interesting Aurangabad tourist places are Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Panchakki, etc. Maharashtra Tourism provides the details, refer to them to plan a trip.
Recommend you to read following Travel blog on Tourist Places in Maharashtra.