Did you know there is more than one Taj in India? Bibi Ka Maqbara 46


The Taj Mahal might be the cover girl of India and one of the 8 wonders of the world but there is a second Taj in India, it’s in Aurangabad. Bibi ka Maqbara is widely known as ‘the poor man’s Taj’, another beautiful Mughal monument and, just like the Taj Mahal, was built because a man loved a woman.

A beautiful Mughal monument and, just like the Taj Mahal, was built because a man loved a woman.

I haven’t had the chance to visit the Taj Mahal itself yet, but I have recently been to ‘the other one’. The less magnificent Bibi ka Maqbara unfortunately will never be the 9th wonder of the world but it’s still well worth a visit. If you have already been to Agra, you may come away from Bibi ka Maqbara unimpressed. To find an extra spark of charm in Bibi ka Maqbara I think it is important to know that the reason the quality is inferior to the Taj Mahal is not because there was less love involved in its creation. Mughal Prince Azam Shah constructed this mausoleum for his mother, he desperately wanted it to rival the Taj Mahal (built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife) but unfortunately his father, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, had different ideas. Aurangzeb didn’t share his sons passion for architecture (and maybe didn’t love his wife as much as his son loved his mother) so only gave him a small budget to work with.

Mughal Prince Azam Shah constructed this mausoleum for his mother, he desperately wanted it to rival the Taj Mahal (built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife) but unfortunately his father, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, had different ideas.

The Taj Mahal (constructed 1632-1653) was still two years from completion when Prince Azam Shah started the construction of Bibi ka Maqbara (constructed 1651-1661). Shah Jahin spent over 32,000,000 rupees building the Taj Mahal , whereas Aurangazeb allocated only 700,000 rupees to his son to create his tribute to his mother. That is 2% of the cost!

Nevertheless, Prince Azam Shah did his best with what he had, although bearing a striking resemblance, Bibi Ka Maqbara is much smaller than the Taj Mahal and whilst some features are made of marble, much of the structure is lime mortar. I wonder, if Prince Azam Shah was the emperor and was not constrained by the budget imposed by his father, could Bibi ka Maqbara have been even more spectacular than the Taj Mahal? I will leave the comparisons there.

Surrounded by beautiful gardens, with a wonderful view of the mountains along the horizon, I recommend visiting just before sunset

Surrounded by beautiful gardens, with a wonderful view of the mountains along the horizon, I recommend visiting just before sunset. The weather was cool, the atmosphere quite romantic and we were not bothered by teenage boys with camera phones (probably because there were signposts stating that it was a prosecutable offense to take photos of people without their consent). I could have spend hours walking around those gardens. Unfortunately the fountains were dry, I would have loved to have seen them flowing.

As we left, a large group of girls on a school trip (aged around 7 to 8) all wanted to shake my hand and say ‘hello, how are you?’. They were absolutely adorable, wearing little pure white hijabs and wide smiles. A lovely end to a lovely visit. To enjoy Bibi ka Maqbara it cost 5 rupees for my husband and 100 rupees for me (foreigners!), cannot really complain about having to pay extra because 100 rupees is approximately £1 (or $1.60). They need the money for maintainance of these expression of love from a son to his mother.


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


46 thoughts on “Did you know there is more than one Taj in India? Bibi Ka Maqbara

  • Deodatta Shenai-Khatkhate

    Excellent post! As a side-note, there is a school of thought that Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu Temple called Tejomahal (Abode of Energy), which was destroyed by ruling Mughal Emperor to create a tomb for his wife. I don’t know how far it is true, although it is a known fact that Mughals did destroy many Hindu temples (e.g. the famous destruction of Somanath Temple), so the possibility of Tejomahal cannot be ruled out easily. Thought I should share this releveant school of thought in societ, albeit it’s not-so-commonly known ….perhaps for political correctness, or for honoring and respecting religious feelings. Again, great post and very good pictures with photographic eye that captures the beauty.

    Make a great day!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Deo,

      Thank you so much for reading!!
      Wow that is a very interesting theory. I also have heard that there was a plan to built a black Taj Mahal on the other side of the river… imagine that!

      I have seen a couple of books have been published about conspiracy theories related to the Taj Mahal, I hope to be able to read one some day, it would be interesting… but firstly, I NEED to visit it myself. I cannot wait!!

      I hope you are well, always lovely to hear from you!!

      Take care, best wishes

      Lauren

  • pathbreakingwriter

    Great pictures, Lauren. I am glad that finally you are touring some places around Maharashtra. I certainly knew about this place, but it was still interesting to read the post. Aurangabad is also well known for Himroo silk which is a combination of silk and cotton fabric which you find only in this city, so hope you bought some of that too. 🙂 Keep writing and roaming around 🙂

  • Christina Dunya

    I think it looks magnificent 🙂 It’s a bit unfair though that you have to pay more than your husband even though it’s cheap. Apart from that I Hope you’re enjoying life in India! 🙂

    • Nicola

      Vastly different entrance fees for natives and foreigners, when visiting monuments, museums, botanical gardens etc. is not unique to India. I have experienced this in African countries also. The reason for this practice is so that local people, who do not have the disposable income that foreign visitors will have, are able to visit and enjoy these places (which are part of their national heritage), because there is an affordable fee for them that enables them to do so. At the same time, it would not be possible to maintain the place for visitors if everyone, including all the overseas tourists, paid only the equivalent of 5 pence or ten US cents to enter, thus the need for a higher rate for the foreigners who are able to afford it. I understand that on the face of it, it may appear unfair. But when you consider that a teacher in the UK or USA earns in a single day what it would take a teacher in India a whole month to earn, you can see why there needs to be different entrance fees for natives and foreigners.

    • hungrydai

      The vast majority of foreigners hate this discriminatory practice. I wonder how foreigners would feel on the London Eye if British people paid £15 and they were charged £100

  • hungrydai

    We also have the two tier pricing system here in Nepal too, even for domestic flights. I don’t really like it though. How are you spending your weekend? The weather is awful here….. rainy and cold

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Hi Dai,

      We have been having major thunderstorms but I am loving it, I sat up for hours last night watching the lightening.

      I cannot believe its raining in Nagpur during March though, extremely unusual… so no reason to be jealous, the sun is hiding from us too.

      I hope you are well!!

      Take care

      • hungrydai

        Great to hear from you, Lauren. This is March and it’s supposed to be getting hot but here we are with sweaters and jackets. I envy your warm temperatures right now.

  • Gopal Sekhar

    First of all thank for the information, I never new there was poor man taj mahal, it look absolute like the taj mahal. Tommarow India vs Pakistan in Asia cup, I hope India win. Can you guess the Name of the trophey given to the winner of match between England and Scotland in rugby 6 nation cup. Do you know a sport curling where England won silver in winter Olympic Sochi 2014 , have nice day

    Gopal

  • abhishek

    Hi Lauren, wonderful pics. Hoping you are enjoying your life in India with your husband and in-laws.

    Regarding entry fee, all have to pay the same amount however the govt. of India subsidizes the amount on behalf of locals.

    • hungrydai

      Here in Nepal I pay a huge premium for being a foreigner and I am struggling on a pension. Volunteers, aid workers, retired persons and all get hit for a massive surcharge. To take a guest to some sites, I have to fork out 750 rupees and most foreigners these days just don’t go because of the discriminatory practice. In the case of Kathmandu’s World Heritage Sites, Nepalis go free and we pay 750 rupees. There are two ways to look at this I think but for sure, foreign tourists do feel that they are being ripped off here. I won’t tell you what the taxi drivers do here because that’s the same around the world maybe

        • hungrydai

          I can’t find a REPLY button under your comment, Nicola so here goes. Firstly at the airport fares get doubled if you are a foreign tourist. The correct meter fare to Thamel is around 280 Nepali rupees but that’s impossible to get and the very cheapest available is around 500 rs to 700 rs for foreigners. To my home the meter fare is around 480 rupees but the demanded fare starts at around 800 rupees to 1200 rupees. We never pay that but we wait until a fairer driver comes along………Secondly for journeys around the city approximately double the meter fare is demanded mostly. If the taxi driver doesn’t like to go somewhere he will just refuse to carry us even though that is strictly illegal here. And if it happens to be raining or we have heavy baggage most taxi drivers are totally merciless and you have to pay whatever amount they say…..

      • abhishek

        Hi hungrydai

        I don’t know about Nepal and how the policies are there. In India, like I said before the govt of India pays on behalf of the Indians. Like in this post of Lauren, where she mentioned she had to pay Rs 100 while her husband paid Rs 5, actually both of them paid Rs 100, the Indian govt pain Rs 95 on behalf of her husband. And the govt paid that money using taxpayers money which her husband and other Indians pay as taxes. So indirectly he also paid the same amount of entry fee (5 rs to the site and 95 rs to govt.) If you also pay taxes to the country then I think (not sure) you will also pay the same amount as the locals. I cannot say with surety but I think things to be similar in Nepal 🙂

        As for the taxi fare, again cannot comment about Nepal as I don’t know how things work over there but here you are very likely to pay more than the regular fare (sometimes exceedingly more especially if you cannot bargain) if you are not a local (Indian or not doesn’t matter). If I go to my neighbor state where I don’t know the places, then I am likely to be cheated by the taxi drivers, my nationality has nothing to do with it. So they charge you more not because they hate you it is actually a very bad and unethical practice of making business.

  • Melissa

    Hi Lauren,

    Wonderful post, thanks for sharing your lovely photos with us! Bibi-ka-Maqbara what a beautiful Mughal Monument to Azam Shah’s mother. I never new this mosque existed, how amazing. Love your pictures you have taken and stories you have shared with us. Hope you are having a grand time with your hubby and Mother in Law. Have a wonderful weekend together. Melissa

  • NS

    I lived in Aurangabad for a while and visited Bibi-ka-maqbara just once. Even I didn’t know the history. Thanks for putting this up!

  • Aftab Ahmad

    I faced the similar problem when we visited Taj and kutub minar. Rs. 10. For Indian and Rs. 750 and Rs. 250 respectively for my malaysia wife. In taj , it was written that people of SAARC nation and Thailand will pay sam as. Indian. When these foreigners are allowed to pay as Indian then there is no reason why similar can not be applied to spouse of Indian .

    I wrote to department of archiolgy to look in to this issue but no reply. At the entrance of these mournament no one checks your ID, since India itself does not have any proper ID system in place. Practically, most of person of Indian origin ( foreigners) pay same as Indians since they look like Indian. These foreigners may be from those countries where Indians have migrated centuries back. Such as Malaysia , Singapore , South Africa ,England , USA ,Canada etc.

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hey Aftab,

      That is a shame that they didn’t reply. I think that PIO and OCI can get in for Indian price (not 100% sure though). I hope you are well! 🙂

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