Last stop in Agra: Itimad-ud-Daulah

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.

The Tomb

The Tomb

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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.

Beautiful pietra dura (inlay) on the white marble

Beautiful pietra dura (inlay) on the white marble exterior

The beautiful ceiling

The ceiling of the dome

Unique for most buildings at the time, this tomb features wine flasks and glasses, supposedly because Nur Jahan's father liked the bottle

Unique for most buildings at the time, this tomb features wine flasks and glasses, supposedly because Nur Jahan’s father liked the bottle

A combination of fresco art and pietra dura in the interior of the tomb

A combination of fresco art and pietra dura in the interior of the tomb

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.

A view of the gate/entrance to the tomb area from one of the carved windows inside the tomb

A view of the gate/entrance to the tomb area from one of the carved windows inside the tomb

The gardens and tomb from the corner of the space

The gardens and tomb from the corner of the space (the smog is obscuring the Yamuna River, which is just on the other side of the red building in the back)

Our nemesis: the first time we were asked to move quickly in India was to escape this guy

Our nemesis: the first time we were asked to move quickly in India was to escape this guy

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Categories: Taj Mahal | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Last stop in Agra: Itimad-ud-Daulah

  1. I love the story of Nur Jahan as well for her unique position as an ambitious and successful woman. Originally married to another man who “mysteriously” died, Nur Jahan become the 20th wife of Jahangir later than the typical bride (she already had a daughter). Due to Jahangir’s addiction to opium and alcohol, Nur Jahan was able to seize control and effectively ran the Mughal Empire from behind the veil. There are few women in history that have been such a force in a male-controlled society (remember “from behind the veil” is literal. the women staid behind screens as to not be seen by anyone except the Emperor). Another women who was also successful at ruling was Hatshepset, a female king (not queen, king) in Egypt, who even wore a fake beard to assert her right to rule. It is always fascinating to see how even with the rules against them, women find a way.

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