Monday, 21 November 2016

Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah : Baby Taj

A Mughal mausoleum often described as "Jewel Box", sometimes called the "The Baby Taj", the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is situated in the city of Agra and often regarded as a draft of Taj Mahal. This was the first Mughal structure built completely from white marble, the first to make extensive use of Pietra dura and the first tomb to be built on the banks river Yamuna. It doesn't manifest the same manifestation of the Taj, but it is arguably more delicate in appearance particularly due to its finely carved marble lattice screens i.e. the jaalis.

The tomb was built in the period from 1622 and 1628, representing a transition in the monumental Mughal architecture. As earlier monuments were built primarily in red sandstone with marble decorations which transformed into white marble and Pietra dura inlay. The mausoleum was commissioned by Nur jahan, Jahangir's wife for her beloved father Mirza Ghiyas, who was a Persian Amir in exile. He was a minister in the court of Emperor Jahangir and was conferred the title of "Pillar of the State" or "Itimad-ud-Daulah".  It displays an Indo-Islamic architecture as there is a fusion of both the architecture in this tomb. Persian influence is shown in the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers whereas the absence of dome and the presence of a closed kiosk on top of this building and use of canopies display the Indian influence. 

It is set in a form of large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and waterways. The monument covers about twenty three meters square and at each corner there are hexagonal towers. The walls of the monument are in white marble from Rajasthan which has within it semi precious stone decorations. The use of Cyprus trees, wine cups, fruits, flower vases and rose water vessels are the designs in the inlay work or the fresco which appears as recurring theme both in the interiors as well as exteriors of the tomb. One of the outstanding feature of the inlay work on the gateways, especially at the lower levels is the creation of a marble jaali illusion. The work is so intricate that actually it is just an illusion. Another beautiful detailing of these gateways are the absence of any kind of inscriptions. Many of Nur Jahan's relatives are buried in this mausoleum. The only asymmetrical aspect in the entire complex is that the cenotaphs of her father and mother have been set side by side. The entrance to the tomb is through red sandstone gateway. It has four gateway one on the middle of each wall. Each wall is decorated with inlay work and intricate designs.

The mausoleum marks the departure from red sandstone buildings of the Mughal architecture.

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