Part I : Baby Taj

When Babloo, our taxi driver informed us that our first stop would be the 'Baby Taj', my friend and I were flummoxed. I am a student of history and I have never heard of anything called 'Baby Taj'.

The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula, situated on the left bank of the Yamuna is locally known as 'Baby Taj' and considered the draft on which the Taj Mahal was designed. The tomb was built between 1622 and 1628, by Queen Nurjahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who held the title 'Itimad-ud-Daula' or Pillar of the State. According to Wikipedia, and in fact, the plaque at the site, the masoluem marks a transition between two phases of Mughal architecture. The first which was dominated by the use of red sandstone and the second in which white marble figured prominently. 

Entrance to Baby Taj

The tomb is situated, like other Mughal buildings, at the center of a large quadrangle with four large gateways along its perimeter. The masauleum housing the cenotaphs are located at the center of a beautiful garden that is watered by shallow waterways fed by the river.
Frontal view of the tomb

Built on a raised plinth, the tomb is a graceful structure in white marble with elegant inlay work and latticed windows. In this tomb are also interred Nurjahan's mother and other relatives. Nurjahan herself is buried in Lahore. 
Cenotaphs of Nurjahan's parents
View of gateway from inside the tomb

It was just about 9 am when we visited the Baby Taj. The day was cloudy with a light breeze making the setting very romantic. The Baby Taj is not as frequented by tourists as the Taj. Without the crowds that throng the Taj, this masoleum offers a quiet and tranquil refuge to the dreamy tourist who wants to linger and savour the history of the place.
A latticed window



Standing at the gateway on the banks of the Yamuna and gazing at the city on the right bank, it is almost as if the river is the line that divides two universes. One covered in a cloak of history and another covered in the dirt and grime that signifies the march of civilization.
Two worlds

Entry fees for Indian nationals is a mere Rs. 10/-. There is also a pay and use toilet that is REALLY CLEAN! You may think I'm crazy to write about toilets after waxing eloquent on the architechural beauty of the tomb. Try taking the 6.15AM Shatabdi out of Delhi to Agra after a heavy dinner the night before and you develop a whole new appreciation for clean pay-and-use facilities!!

Update: 

Before I move onto writing about the Agra Fort, I must tell you about this book I am reading. Its called 'The Shadow Princess' by Indu Sundaresan, part of her Taj Trilogy. The book traces the life of Princess Jahanara, from the time of her mother, Mumtaz Mahal's death, through the power struggle among her brothers, till Aurangazeb becomes the Emperor.

The book is dotted with descriptions of all the lovely places I saw during my visit to Agra. It gives a detailed descriptions of the Baby Taj and how Nurjahan was closely involved in its design and construction. Unfortunately, according to the book, she did not stick around to see it to completion. After Jahangir's death, she became persona non grata with the new Emperor (not that there was any special love between them before that!) and was sent away to spend her remaining days in Lahore. But Shahjahan did acknowledge her genius in designing the Itimad-ud-Daula's tomb and borrowed ideas while designing and executing his ode to love, the Taj Mahal.

Do read the book if you are into historical literature. 

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22 Responses to Part I : Baby Taj

  1. Nice pics... Thanks for sharing :)

    There are several legends on Sher Afghan and Nurjahan in Bengal. But more on that later...

  2. Interesting.I didn't know about Baby Taj till now and missed seeing it during my visit.Thanks for the informative post

  3. Kasturi says:

    Interesting history lesson!!

  4. Jean says:

    Baby Taj is new to me too.

    And I so agree on the cleanliness of the pay-and-use places.

  5. Rachna says:

    Lovely pics, and I agree with you about the toilet facilities. I check out the toilet facilities first thing in any hotel or restaurant, and in a public place it is a blessing from heaven :).

  6. UB says:

    Very informative!

  7. magiceye says:

    beautifully presented!

  8. Sandhya says:

    I have never heard of Baby Taj! At present I am reading Indu Sundaresan's novel and the story revolves around Nu Jehan...she was very close to her father

    Loved the pictures! You write travelogues very beautifully! I still remember your post about your trip to Cochi and the write up about the Jews of Kerala. It was very useful when I visited the area, a few months back.

  9. Deepa says:

    Thanks everyone. Glad you liked the pictures. Although I don't think they would qualify me for a career in photography :) My friend said that I took good pictures - but a great one is that which makes the mundane look interesting.

    Sandhya: Thanks for the vote of confidence. I love to travel and I suppose I try to put a little of my passion into the writing. And am so happy my little write up on Jew Town helped!

  10. radha says:

    If the toilets in public places are clean they should be given precedence. You could have started off your post with that.
    Nice pictures of the Baby Taj.

  11. Deepa says:

    @Radha: What can I say? I like to say the best for last!! :))

  12. rama says:

    It is so nice to read about Agra, a place we where have stayed for about 4 years, I did part of my schooling there.
    I remember we used to take every visitor to our house to see the Taj, Sikandra, Baby Taj etc. I have seen Taj in various times of the day.
    There is a place called Seth Gali, where we used to get the best ballle in the world located at kinari bazar. Oh, it used to be so much fun.
    Later in life after my marriage after many years, my husband and I planned a trip to Agra, and I tried to recapture the lost excitement , but could not really get it. So much time have passed, but still we managed to enjoy ourselves.
    Thanks, through your blog I could walk back into the memory lane.

  13. AMODINI says:

    Loved the pictures ! And very nicely written. I've been to Agra, but now I'd like my kids to see it too. And clean toilets - way too important to ignore :-)

  14. Deepa says:

    Rama: Glad to bring back pleasant memories of childhood. And the smaller towns (if Agra can be called that) have such character to them.

    Amodini: Thanks and you should definitely take your kids for a visit.

    You know folks, I am reading a booka right now set in Mughal times. Shadow Princess by Indu Sunderasan traces the time from the death of Mumtaz Mahal to the rise of Aurangazeb with Jahanara, daughter of Shahjahan as the central character. The descriptions are amazing. And with the visit to Agra fresh in my mind, the reading of the book is becoming a really good experience! Maybe I will do a book review soon. I'm so behind in writing these days!!!!

  15. Ten Year says:

    Got here through your sister's blog ... interesting read ... didn't know that the locals referred to Itimad-ud-Daulah as Baby Taj :) ... We love the tomb when we visited it last year ... It's sad that most folks only think of the Taj when they go to Agra ... I loved Sikandara too ...

    Here is the link to my blog if you'd like to give it a dekho ...
    http://10yearitch.com

    Safe Travels,
    Madhu

  16. Deepa says:

    @Ten Year: Yes, even we were kind of tickled to hear the name. But it was a treat. I'll def go through your blog. Thanks for visiting mine. Btw, you had made a previous comment I think - I got it in email but it never showed up on my dashboard. I think blogger ate it up.

  17. Ten Year says:

    Got here through your sister's blog ... interesting read ... didn't know that the locals referred to Itimad-ud-Daulah as Baby Taj :) ... We love the tomb when we visited it last year ... It's sad that most folks only think of the Taj when they go to Agra ... I loved Sikandara too ...

    Here is the link to my blog if you'd like to give it a dekho ...
    http://10yearitch.com

    Safe Travels,
    Madhu

  18. AMODINI says:

    Loved the pictures ! And very nicely written. I've been to Agra, but now I'd like my kids to see it too. And clean toilets - way too important to ignore :-)

  19. UB says:

    Very informative!

  20. Jean says:

    Baby Taj is new to me too.

    And I so agree on the cleanliness of the pay-and-use places.