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Bibi Ka Maqbara

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Situated about 3 k.m. from the city is Bibi Ka Maqbara, the burial place of Aurangzeb's wife, Rabia-ud-Durrani. It is an imitation of the Taj at Agra an due to its similar design, it is popularly known as the Mini Taj of the Deccan.

The Maqbara stands in the middle of a spacious and formally planned Mughal garden with axial ponds, fountains, water channels, broad pathways and paviliions. Behind the mausoleum is located a small archaeological museum. The strcutural difference between the Taj Mahal and Bibi Ka Maqabara is that, the pillars on the side on the main structure (with dome) are taller in height in case of Bibi Ka Maqbara and that in Taj pillars are smaller in height than the main structure (dome).

An elegant, graceful medieval monument draped in snow white, can be viewed from the road between Daulatabad and Aurangabad and is visible from miles in every direction. It is the most conspicuous landmark of Aurangabad and its historic city.

Maqbara was constructed by Muhammad Azam Shah son of Aurangzeb in memory of his mother Dilras Banu, honoured as Rabia Durrani. Two dates are given for its erection i.e. 1653-1658 and 1678.

Maqbara is beyond a locality called Begumpura. The mausoleum stands within an enclosed area 500 yards long and 300 yards broad. The surrounding high wall is crenellated with pointed arched recesses on the outside. There are bastions at intervals and the recesses are divided by pilasters crowned with little minarets. The centre of the southern wall is occupied by a handsome portal entrance closed by folding doors which are covered with a running foliage pattern in brass. The structure is in the form of an hexagon and the angles are ornamented with minarets. A large cusped arch in front rises to the total height of the building the real entrance being through a smaller arch with folding doors. The centers of the three walls have open pavilions, which with the entrance in the southern wall, are connected by broad tessellated pavements with the tomb placed in the centre of the enclosure.

The pavements are ornamented with little kiosks in all the picturesque variety of Indian art. The Dargah rests on a raised platform of the red porthyritic trap, 72 ft. square which is also the height of the four minarets at the corner angles. A railing runs around the edge of the platform.

The body of the tomb is square and has a lofty pointed arch, extending the whole height on each side. A magnificent marble dome rises above with four minarets at the corner angles. Four small domes with corresponding minarets to each adorn the corners. A flight of steps descends into the body of the building, where the tomb is surrounded by a screen work of perforated marble.

A small museum containing some of Aurangzeb’s most cherished possessions like several of his Quraans, many specimen of chinaware and some of his utensils in which he ate is attached to the building on the right side of the Maqbara.

A mosque to the left of the tomb bears the 99 names of Almighty Allah with an inlaid floor resembling individual prayers mats laid alongside each other. The south entrance is memorable for its worked brass door inscribed with finely carved decorative motifs and the name of the architect Ataullah.

According to one well known authority the Taj represents Mughal architecture in its glory and the Maqbara in its decline. But it is generally admitted by the visitors that Maqbara although lacks in perfection and climax of the Taj but it has a grandeur all its own which entitles it to rank among the best beautiful buildings in Aurangabad or the Deccan. Since comparisons are already done the most obvious difference appears to be one of proportions. In the Bibi-ka-Maqbara there is an added emphasis on verticality, the domes on the top seem crowded lacking the Taj’s harmonious balance of elements, and other noticeable differences are that the tomb is in the middle of the garden not at the end like the Taj. Marble is used only in the interiors, the domes and part of the terrace plinth. There is no inlay of semi-precious stones.

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