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Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad – The Deccan’s Taj Mahal

Aurangabad, referred to as the Tourism Capital of Maharashtra, attracts tourists from different corners of the world primarily because of its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Deccan Plateau’s very own Taj Mahal - Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad (meaning Tomb of the Lady) is one of the popular tourist attraction. According to many historians, the monument was built as a mausoleum for Dilras Banu Begum (named Rabia-Ud-Daurani posthumously), the first wife of Emperor Aurangazeb. This monument has a striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal, built in the memory of the emperor’s mother. Fondly referred to as Dakkhani Taj, the monument has its charm and beauty.

Here is a brief overview of this monument, helping visitors uncover its secrets.

Keynote on Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad

Address: Begumpura, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431004

Opening time: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm

Entry Fee: 300 INR

Architectural style: Mughal architecture

Famous for: Being the replica of Taj Mahal 

Visit Duration: Half a day

Best time to visit: October to March is suitable for the trip  

How to reach: The mausoleum is located 5km (3mi) from the main city center. Buses, auto-rickshaw, taxi could be hired to reach the Maqbara.

Overview of the Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad

The mausoleum built in the honor of Dilras Banu Begum was one of the important constructions done during the reign of Aurangazeb. Commissioned around 1668, the monument was designed by Ata-Ullah (the son of the original architect of Taj Mahal) who used Agra’s Taj Mahal as a reference. The emperor wanted the monument to be architecturally superior to the Taj. But due to an unfortunate decline in architecture and other social and political reasons, the resulting monument came out as a poor copy of the original monument. Nonetheless, the monument is a popular tourist attraction.

The Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad contains several archetypal features of the Mughal architecture including domes like terrace and intricate latticework. Accompanying garden and array of fountains could also be found here. Instead of marble work, much of the construction was done with lime mortar.

However, located at the backdrop of Deccan hills, this place is very charming and beautiful.

The Architecture of the Mausoleum

Bibi Ka Maqbara was laid out in a quadrilateral garden base layout or charbagh. The main edifice built on a raised platform, in the middle of the garden, contains four minarets and the tomb of Dilras Banu Begum. The steps on the three sides of the monument help visitors in climbing the platform to reach the doorway of the tomb. The adjoining mosque, found close to the main mausoleum, was later added to the structure.  

The mortal remains of the empress are placed at the ground levels surrounded by octagonal latticework showcasing exquisite designs. Cenotaph of the queen could be accessed through the stairs going towards the underground levels. The roof above the cenotaph corresponds to the ground level of the monument. The octagonal opening and low barricaded marble screens make the roof stunning.  

Bibi Ka Maqbara has four gardens, a big resemblance to the archetypal Mughal architecture. Through the garden area has lanes decorated with fountains, water reservoirs, and several other beautification elements. Additionally, the uniquely designed cisterns enhance the beauty of the garden area.  

Special Mention to Ornamental Elements

Apart from domes and minarets, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad has distinctive ornamental elements. Instead of usual expensive decorative elements like a mosaic or Pietra dura, the architect used stucco plaster and painting. This was done to compensate for the extreme budget cuts initiated by Aurangzeb. However, the colorful murals and motifs inspired by the surroundings were used to magnify the beauty of the building. Apart from that latticework and glazed tiling were used to enhance the beauty of the mausoleum.

Islamic calligraphy is extensively used to decorate the walls of the mausoleum. One panel containing 99 names of Allah is extremely beautiful and reflects the artistic abilities of the people in those times.   

What’s next?

The tour to Aurangabad Bibi Ka Maqbara would take around two hours to complete. For the rest of the day, you can explore the other popular landmarks of this historical city. Here goes the list:

1.  Aurangabad Caves
2.  Panchakki
3.  Shrimat Chatrapati Shivaji Museum
4.  Daulatabad Fort
5.  Ajanta and Ellora Caves