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Home >>Monuments around Taj Mahal >> Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb

Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb

Introduction to Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb

After Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, the monument that is most important in Agra is the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah or "Baby Taj" as it is called sometimes. A highly ornate edifice, this mausoleum is considered as the imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as elaborate carvings and inlay work are concerned. Though the structure does not have much to offer architecturally, it makes a clear departure from the earlier Mughal tombs built during the period and is more softer and with a lot of inlay carvings.

Itmad-ud-Daulah

Itmad-ud daulah, one of the most beautiful of Mughal tombs, stands across the river Yamuna from the Taj Mahal, nearly one and a half kilometers up-stream. Belonging to the age of Jahangir, it contains cenotaphs of Mirza Ghiyas and Asmat Begum, parents of the powerful Mughal Empress Nurjahan queen of Jahangir, an exceptional beauty and an astute administrator. Mirza Ghiyas had left Persian in sheer penury in search of better prospects at the Mughal court. He benefited much from the influence of his daughter who he had once abandoned in the desert. Akbar offered him a good rank and privileges. Jahangir made him his prime minister with the title Itmad-ud-daulah (Pillar of the State). Nurjahan's brother Asaf Khan later became prime minister of Shahjahan. This Persian family formed at the Mughal court giving the grand Mughals two most celebrated queens-Nurjahan and Mumtaz Mahal (Lady of the Taj), daughter of Asaf Khan.

The Tomb

The tomb was built in the famed Char Bagh style that Itmad-ud-Daulah had himself laid out six years before his death 1622. The monument is beautifully conceived in the white marble with mosaic and lattice. The tomb is not a very large structure as Taj Mahal with a height of only 21 m and a dome-roofed octagonal minaret of 12 m each at each corner.

More than its style of architecture that is sometimes called as flawed by the experts, it is the inlay work or pietra dura on the walls of mausoleum that makes it extremely attractive. Marble screens of geometric latticework permit soft lighting of the inner chamber. On the engraved walls of the chamber is the recurring theme of a wine flask with snakes as handles. In the flanking chamber are many other tombs of other family members.

The main chamber is richly decorated with mosaics and semi-precious stones inlaid in the white marble. According to some historians, the concept and skills of Pietra dura must have been imported from European home of 16th century Florence to India. Though there are some differences like Florentine pietra dura is figurative whereas Indian version is essentially decorative.

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