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12 November 2016 / leggypeggy

Check out the Taj Mahal’s lookalike

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Everyone wants their picture taken in front of Bibi Ka Maqbara

The Taj Mahal in Agra is, without doubt, India’s most visited tourist attraction. It’s the mausoleum that Mughal emperor, Shan Jahan, built to honour his beloved third and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child.

With that childbirth record, she deserved an Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building as well, but the truth is that few buildings in the world match the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

Poor John and I have been lucky enough to visit to the Taj twice. You can read about our most recent visit here.

corner of Bibi Ka Macbara

Looking up at Bibi Ka Maqbara

pillar at Bibi Ka Maqbara

Decorative plaster work at base of pillar

This year, we had the chance to visit the Taj Mahal’s lookalike in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. I have known of this clone for several years, but have never been in the ‘neighbourhood’.

Bibi Ka Maqbara (or the Tomb of the Lady) was built in the 1650–60s by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb. It honours the memory of his mother, Dilras Banu Begum. Posthumously she was known as Rabia-ud-Daurani.

It’s not surprising that the two mausoleums are so similar in appearance. Mumtaz Malah was Azam Shah’s grandmother. On top of that, Bibi Ka Maqbara was designed by Ata-ullah, the son of the man who designed the Taj.

Bibi Ka Maqbara was originally supposed to rival the Taj, but budget constraints left it smaller and much less lavish.

Unlike the Taj, we were able to take photos inside this mausoleum. Rabia-ud-Daurani’s tomb is on the lower level at the centre of the hexagonal-shaped main building. It’s covered with an embellished cloth that is further decorated with many coins and banknotes, and the odd scrunched up entry ticket.

Tomb at Bibi Ka Maqbara

The tomb at Bibi Ka Maqbara is covered with coins, banknotes and paper scraps

Marble for the mausoleum was brought from Jaipur, more than 1000 kilometres away from Aurangabad. According to gem merchant and traveller, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, when he journeyed from Surat to Golconda, he saw 300 ox-drawn carts hauling marble to the construction site.

The compound includes an arched, rectangular mosque built by a Nizam of Hyderabad. It can accommodate almost 400 people for prayers.

We spent more than an hour wandering around the mausoleum, its expansive platform and the surrounding gardens. The whole compound is surrounded by a wall and overlooked by hills.

While Bibi Ka Maqbara may not outshine its inspiration, the Taj Mahal, it is a very fitting tribute to any mother.

Hills overlooking Bibi Ka Maqbara

Hills overlooking Bibi Ka Maqbara


Leave a Comment
  1. ralietravels / Nov 12 2016 9:54 pm

    Thanks. As is often the case, this was new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cenapbey / Nov 12 2016 9:57 pm

    Hello. How are you My friend?, When do u come to turkey? We are here all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2016 11:57 pm

      We love Turkey and hope to come again soon. Thanks for reminding me about your beautiful country.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. beetleypete / Nov 12 2016 9:59 pm

    Lovely images of the tomb and the area, and fascinating background detail too. I am enjoying being along with you on this trip, Peggy.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 12 2016 10:04 pm

      So much to tell, but so few connections. This was my first good one in about six days. Thanks for travelling along with me.


  4. Monica Graff / Nov 13 2016 2:57 am

    Such a beautiful place. When I decided to write a post about our visit there, I was gobsmacked by the backstory! You’re right, Mumtaz did deserve the Empire and the Eiffel–not just for birthing all those babies but also for putting up with Shan Jahan. Though I think he was much worse after her death. Enjoying your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:06 pm

      Thanks Monica. It is beautiful and, yes, Mumtaz was amazing. Did you know that Mumtaz means ‘excellent’ in Arabic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lulu / Nov 13 2016 3:30 am

    I cannot wait for my trip to India next year. Did you love the experience?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:07 pm

      We’ve loved almost everything about India. It is our third visit here in three years.


  6. dave ply / Nov 13 2016 3:53 am

    I didn’t know about this one. Looks like a pretty good clone. I bet it wasn’t as crowded either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:08 pm

      Excellent point, Dave. Very few visitors and we were able to photograph inside.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rhonda / Nov 13 2016 6:12 am

    Thanks for an interesting story about a place that I didn’t know about! Glad you’re still having a great trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lmo58 / Nov 13 2016 7:48 am

    It’s beautiful Peggy! And such an interesting story. I’m always amazed at the workmanship that built these astonishing buildings with no modern tools or electricity. Thanks again for a good story with lovely photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:11 pm

      I agree, Louise. It’s incredible how intricate the work is—and done with such minimal tools.


  9. Dorothy / Nov 13 2016 7:51 am

    Wow, I never knew there was a lookalike to the Taj Mahal. In a country with such poverty I am surprised they allow the banknotes and coins to lie there. Surely they could find a worthy cause to use it for. If they stated which charity it was they would be likely to keep getting the donations. Typical Scots noticing the money first. The building is beautiful and having the mosque next door should ensure a regular amount of local people enjoy it too. Poor lady deserved a tribute after fourteen children. My Grannie had eleven and that was exceptional for her time.


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:20 pm

      Wow, my hat is off to your Grannie—14 kids is unimaginable in these times. As for the coins and notes, I suspect they are used to help maintain the compound. Having a fairly good idea about Indian habits, I bet the money is left there as a hint to encourage others to toss some in.


  10. gerard oosterman / Nov 13 2016 9:21 am

    Stunning photos of so much beauty, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Nov 13 2016 9:42 am

    What an interesting story. Thanks for the info and all the lovely photos. It’s fun to “travel” with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:21 pm

      It’s fun to have you join in on the travels. 🙂


  12. Curt Mekemson / Nov 13 2016 9:47 am

    I laughed when you wrote “due to budget constraints.” I guess we never can escape them, right along with death and taxes. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:24 pm

      I just realised that ‘budget constraints’ sounds so bureaucratic. I’m a plain English advocate and should have said ‘but the fact that the money started to run out’. Now I’d better go pay my taxes. 🙂


  13. vagabondurges / Nov 13 2016 11:54 am

    When people talk about the more disappointing places they’ve visited, the Taj Majal comes up now and then (though I’ve never been and have no opinion on it) but this strikes me as a much more entertaining trip, for its relative obscurity. Thank you! I hope to visit it when I get around to that India trip…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:26 pm

      Interesting that people would think the Taj a disappointment. I wonder what they were expecting? Both places are enchanting. The Taj is certainly the more impressive, but I’m pleased I’ve seen both.


  14. Vicki / Nov 13 2016 12:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing both images and info. Like most of the world I guess, I’d never heard of this monumental building.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 8:27 pm

      You are most welcome. Bibi Ka Maqbara isn’t generally well-known outside India. I only know about it because I’ve been here three times in as many years.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The Year I Touched My Toes / Nov 13 2016 9:13 pm

    Hi Peggy I didn’t know about this “second Taj”. The different and less harmonious proportions gives it away straight up. Obviously the detail is not the same standard either as you pointed out. But you are right it is still a fabulous tribute to a woman. Looking to catching up to the rest of your Indian posts. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 14 2016 1:30 pm

      Thanks Louise. The biggest difference I noticed close-up between the two mausoleums was the level of decoration. Bibi Ka Maqbara has virtually no inlaid marble designs while the Taj is covered in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Alison and Don / Nov 15 2016 8:20 am

    It doesn’t have the perfect elegant proportions of the Taj, but it certainly has it’s own beauty. I would definitely visit it if I was in the area.

    Liked by 1 person

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