Before leaving Agra on Sunday, we made a final stop at the lovely tomb, Itimad-ud-Daulah. Although it is overshadowed (rightly so) by the Taj Mahal, it is an exquisite structure with beautiful designs inside and outside that probably would receive tons of tourist attention if were located in any other city. Itimad-ud-Daulah was built from 1622-1628 by Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal emperor Jehangir, for her Persian nobleman father who was Jehangir’s chief minister.
A number of aspects of the tomb make it a really unique building for India. First, it is very rare that a woman would be responsible for building any structure at that time. Second, tombs of this size were typically reserved for emperors. The story goes that Nur Jahan hid the tomb as it was being built to not cause a stir by locating it on other side of the Yamuna River, away from the main activities in Agra.
What makes this tomb really special though is its link to the Taj Mahal – it is nicknamed the Baby Taj as it was erected 30 years before the Taj and has a number of similar artistic/architectural elements. For example, this is the first Mughal structure built completely from marble and the first to extensively use pietra dura (the flower inlay designs). While not as overwhelming as the Taj, it is beautiful and was a perfect end to Agra.