Baby Taj, Agra
This small tomb, across the Yamuna river from the town of Agra, and its more famous monuments. It is often called 'the Baby Taj', and likened to a jewel box.
The tomb, was built in the 1620s, for the father of Jahangir's wife (and grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal). and illustrates a progression from earlier Mughal mausoleums, built from red sandstone with marble decorations, (such as as Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and Akbar's tomb in Sikandra) – to its second phase, based on white marble and pietra dura inlay, most fully realized in the Tāj Mahal.
As with all of these tombs, the symmetry of the gardens and outbuildings is of key importance, as are the criss-crossing watercourses, which signify the Persian origins of the designers and their clients.
It costs 110 rupees for foreigners to enter (but can be visited with the 520 rupee ticket good for Sikandra, the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri)
The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah follows a typical Mughal period mausoleum design. It is a square structure placed at the centre of a garden in a charbagh layout, i.e. a square garden divided into four landscaped quadrants separated by paved paths with water channels running through their centre. At the end of each path is a red sandstone monumental gate structure with a high central pointed arch flanked by stacked arches. The gates vary only slightly in design, but all four are of the same size and contain similar geometric and floral designs created using white marble inlaid into the red sandstone of the façade. The east gate is the actual entrance into the mausoleum grounds, but the other three simply provide symmetry. The west gate provides panoramic views over the River Yamuna.
This rather small white marble mausoleum is the most exquisitely decorated structure in Agra, thus possibly the whole of India! It was commissioned in 1622 by Nur Jahan, the Persian wife of Emperor Jehangir, for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, whose title was Itimad-ud-Daulah ("Pillar of the State" or Chief Minister of the Mughal Empire). The mausoleum's design follows the eclectic forms of Emperor Akbar's style, combining Hindu and Islamic architecture, but instead of the signature red sandstone that was previously the material of choice, white marble was used for construction. Therefore, it represented the transition from the tastes of the previous period to the magnificent white marble style of the later era that culminated with the Taj Mahal. The similarity in inlay work and jali lattice windows in the two structures gave Itimad-ud-Daulah the nickname "Baby Taj" (see next tip). The mausoleum itself stands on a square platform in the middle of a garden, and is topped by four corner minarets and a square chhatri pavilion. It is located on the east bank of River Yamuna.
The interior of the Mausoleum of Itimad-ud-Daulah contains multiple chambers, with the cenotaphs of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife placed in the central one. The entire walls, floors and ceilings are colourfully decorated in floral and geometric motifs created using a mix of tiles, stucco and inlaid marble, while the windows are covered in intricate jali lattice screens. Unfortunately, parts of the interior are damaged, but ongoing restoration work continues.
The entire exterior of the mausoleum of Itimad-ud-Daulah is covered in intricate floral and geometric motifs created using inlaid polychrome marble and stone over a white marble base. Some of the most skilful artisans seem to have been employed for this pietra dura work, which was encouraged by Mughal emperors and developed by artisans until the completion of the finest creation of the Mughal Empire: the Taj Mahal. Although the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah pales in comparison to the Taj Mahal in terms of immensity and grandeur, its small size did afford it more dense pietra dura work than the Taj Mahal itself. The similarity in inlay work, though, did grant it the nickname "Baby Taj."
For more photos, take a look at the travelogue: "Itimad-ud-Daulah - Inlay Designs."
Driving through the city of Taj our eyes stopped at a monument that appeared like Taj Mahal from a distance, but when we enquired we got to know that it was Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb which is also known as Baby Taj. This is a mausoleum which is often described as ‘Jewel Box’ and a ‘draft’ of the world renowned Taj Mahal. The structure consists of scenic gardens around it where visitors like to lay back for enjoying the sight of this picturesque edifice.
Primarily built of red sandstone and marble décor this mausoleum is decked with pietra dura inlay. To enter the fort people from abroad has to pay around 200 Rs while for Indians the cost is very much lesser. This palace is one of the less explored sights in Agra and thus wasn’t all that populated when I visited it. This made my visit even more enjoyable and peaceful. On a whole it was fairly enjoyable experience and thus I would recommend it to those looking forward to an extended Agra tour.
Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb is a Mughal mausoleum in the city of Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Often described as 'jewel box', sometimes called the Baby Taj, the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah is often regarded as a "draft" of the Taj Mahal.
Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The mausoleum itself is set on a base about 50 meters square and about 1 meter high. The mausoleum is about 23 meters square. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about 13 meters tall.
The walls are white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations - cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz in images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light to the interior passes through delicate jali screens of intricately carved white marble.
The Baby Taj stands right on the eastern bank of the Yamuna River and you get great views of the daily life on the banks and in the river itself. Dozens of water buffalo lounge around whilst herdsman walk along trailing camels behind them. And, as it's a river, there's always washing to be done. Large sheets are then dried on the banks.
As well as the main gatehouse on the eastern side there are 3 other gatehouses are the north, south and west sides. These were constructed only to maintain the symmetry, following the rules of the Char Bagh pattern. These red sandstone gateways have inlaid marble designs and are double storeyed. The northern and southern pavilions are almost identical. They have a single storeyed iwan in the middle and double storeyed wings on their sides. There are rooms and halls on the first floor of these pavilions. There are stairways on the sides of the façade. The largest and most elaborately decorated pavilion is the western one, which is situated on the riverbank and is believed to be used by Itmad-ud-Daulah as the pleasure pavilion during his lifetime.
The interior of the tomb features superb pietra dura which is marble covered with colourful stone inlay of painted flowers, trees, fruit and wine decanters. This was the first time this technique was extensively used in Mughal architecture. Mosaic patterns of geometric designs grace the lower part of the walls.
This is the main entrance gatehouse into the complex. Located on the eastern side of the garden, it is made from red sandstone unlike the marble of the tomb itself. The gatehouse follows the same design of other gatehouses by having marble inlay designs.
Known officially as Itimad-ud-Daulah's Tomb, the Baby Taj lies on the eastern bank of the River Yamuna about 4km from the Taj Mahal. It was built by Nur Jehan, the wife and queen of Mughal emperor Jehangir for her father Mirza Shiyath Beg who was the "Lord Treasurer", (which is what Itimad-ud-Daulah means), of the Mughal empire between 1622-28. The tomb is a combination of white marble, (the first such Mughal structure to be built from such material), coloured mosaic, stone inlay and lattice work. It marks the transition from the red sandstone architecture of Akbar to the beautiful white marble era of Shah Jahan in which the Taj Mahal was styled from.
Open: 6.30am-5.30pm daily. Admission: Rs110 for foreigners.
This exquisite marble tomb was made by Emperor Jehangir's queen, Nurjahan, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg during 1622 - 1628 A.D.
The first example of a tomb built on a riverbank in India.The marble inlay work or pietra dura style was first used in India at Itmad Ud Daulah's Tomb and later in the Taj Mahal. The inlaid designs on the wall of the tomb include flowers, trees, fruit, animals and birds as well as wine jars and even people, which is surprising since Islam does not permit the use of human images as decorative forms.
The richness and variety of artwork on the walls of the tomb of Itmad Ud Daulah's are truly breathtaking and well worth seeing when you travel to Agra.
Open : Sunrise to sunset. Entry Fee Rs 110
Centred in the tomb chamber are yellow marble caskets of Empress Nur Jehan’s Mother (Asmat Begum) and father which sit side by side. Compared to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, this monument was surprisingly lacking in tourists… which was nice for a change.
Exquisite perforated screens made up of complex ornamental patterns are set into the walls of the tomb. These are made from single slabs of marble and allow the cool breezes and light to penetrate inner chambers and passages.