The Bibi Ka Maqbara is arguably India’s second greatest mausoleum. However, being in the shadow of the world famous Taj Mahal, the Bibi Ka Maqbara is virtually forgotten in wider India, and almost unknown around the world. Built by the son of Shah Jahan for his first wife, the Bibi Ka Maqbara bears a striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal, to which it is often compared. In fact, it is often referred to as the Taj of the Deccan Plateau. Because it is lesser known and in a lesser accessible location, the Bibi Ka Maqbara remains one of India’s much less visited and much more rewarding sacred sites.
Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India. He replaced his father, Shah Jahan, after a rebellion/civil war that resulted in his ascendency over his father and brothers. His mother was Mumtaz Mahal, the Mughal empress for whom the Taj Mahal was built. Under Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire in India reached its greatest extent, and it is believed that he was the wealthiest monarch in the world at the time.
It was under Aurangzeb that the Taj Mahal, the tomb of his mother, was completed. Like his father, Aurungzeb also had a great love of is life: Dilras Banu Begum. Dilras was considered one of the most beautiful women in the empire, and she became Aurungzeb’s first wife. She had five children with him, and she died shortly after giving birth to her fifth child.
After her death, the emperor was stricken with grief. Although there were other wives, Dilras was never replaced as empress. In imitation of his father, he endeavored to construct for her a tomb of such magnificence that it would stand for all time. The result was the Bibi Ka Maqbara, the Tomb of the Lady. He had it built in the city of Aurangabad, which served briefly as the capital of his realm.
Although originally intended to rival the Taj Mahal, the budget-conscious Aurangzeb ultimately made this tribute to his wife somewhat smaller than its more famous predecessor, if not less grand. Nevertheless it was the largest project undertaken during his reign, which represented the height of the Mughal Empire in India.
While the Bibi Ka Maqbara is often considered to be little more than a smaller imitation of the Taj Mahal, it is without question a spectacular edifice in its own right. Constructed in white marble, the huge complex features a massive central mausoleum flanked by four towering minarets. Long approaches to the mausoleum are graced by narrow reflecting pools. A large marble-faced mosque stands just next to the mausoleum within the complex.
The interior of the mausoleum is done almost completely in marble, with virtually no traces of any other color except for white, from the interior of the dome right down to every individual alcove. Almost the only color in the place is the drapery over the tomb of Dilras.
The Bibi Ka Maqbara is located close to the city center of Aurangabad, approximately 180 miles east of Mumbai. As of this writing no visitor information was available. Web: http://asi.nic.in (official website).
For whatever reason, Aurungzeb was not buried in his namesake city with his wife. Instead, the Tomb of Aurungzeb is located a few miles away in Khuldabad.