The Bibi ka Maqbara is a mausoleum dedicated to Rabia Ul Durrani, the first wife of Aurangzeb. It was built between 1651 and 1661. It is the work of Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Azam Shah, for his beloved mother. His resemblance to the Taj Mahal of Agra (1631-1653) gave it a name that Taj of Deccan. It was designed by Ata-Ulla, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an engineer. It is the finest example of the Mughal style in the Deccan Valley. Although the monument is attributed to his son, one may think that Aurangzeb oversaw his construction as proof of his imperial ambitions.
The monument is typical Mughal style with its garden enclosed around 4 walls.
The Mughal Gardens:
The Mughal gardens were influenced by the Persian gardens. The Mughal garden is identifiable by its very important use of rectilinear lines in a walled enclosure. Typical features associated with Mughal gardens are small water tanks, fountains and canals. Since the beginning of the Mughal empire, the construction of gardens was one of the favourite pastimes of the emperors. Babur, the founder of the empire built gardens in Lahore and Dhopur. Although Humayun did not have much time to build gardens, he is known to have spent a lot of time in his father’s garden. Jahangir, grandson of Humayun is known for his love for flowers. His son, Shah Jahan, marked the apogee of Mughal gardens including the construction of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Delhi which contains the Mahtab Bagh, a night garden that was filled with brilliant flowers and at night it smells like jasmine.
The design of the Mughal gardens came from medieval Islamic garden mainly, although there are influences from the Turkish-Mongolian ancestry of the Mughal.
Its essential features include water circuits and a pond to reflect the beauties of the sky and garden, trees of different species, some to provide shade and others to produce fruits, colourful and fragrant flowers, Birds to fill the garden with peaceful sound. The numbers eight and nine were considered auspicious by the Mughals and can in fact to be found in the number of terraces or garden architecture, such as the use of the octagon. The garden of Bibi ka Maqbara contains eight platforms and the minarets are octagonal in shape. The big difference between the Mughal and French garden is that among the Mughals, symmetry is created by non-living elements while the French create symmetry is with living elements (trees, shrubs, plants).
Symmetry is one of the main rule of Mughal architecture. This symmetry was broken by the construction of a mosque. It was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad between the 18th and the 19th centuries. It is completely arched and could accommodate up to 377 people. The material used to build it are basalt and plaster. We have no indication of the reasons for building a mosque near to tomb since the site already has two mosques to the east and west.
The mausoleum is on a platform accessible by two symmetrical stairs. Aurangzeb was the last of the six great Mughal emperors. Son of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, he was not meant to govern being the 4th boy. The mausoleum was built when in Agra the Taj Mahal was finished. The biggest difference between Taj mahal and the Bibi ka Maqbara is the material used. In the first one only the marble was used, the second is essentially made of plaster of paris and main base of tomb made in marble. It is not merely a detail, but a sign of the decline of the empire. Indeed, with Aurangzeb the empire reached its peak territorial and after him no emperor could restore its greatness to the empire.
The mausoleum is called the Bibi ka Maqbara. Bibi means wife and Maqbara means tomb. It is constituted at its marble base and the rest is plaster. Mausoleum made in octagonal shape from inside. We admire the tomb from the top and the devotees throw money to make a wish. The tomb is covered with a green cloth, the colour of Islam. The building is decorated with windows of Islamic type that allow to see without being seen.
Today the Bibi ka Maqbara remain as the living testimony of a lost art, that of the Mughals and it became the symbol of Aurangabad.