Agra: Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb

When we got posted to Agra, I was ecstatic. Agra was the seat of power of Mughal Dynasty for a long time before the capital was shifted to Delhi. I have a penchant for old historical structures and having grown up reading ‘Akbar-Birbal’ stories, I was itching to visit all the palaces, forts and mausoleums.

I remember visiting Taj Mahal as a toddler with parents,  a teenager on school trip and later on a history tour as a student of Architecture in college. But Itmad-ud-Daula or Baby Taj as it is more famously known as, never featured in those itineraries.

So this time, I chose to visit this precursor of the magnificent Taj Mahal….Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula.

“Itmad-ud-Daula” was the title conferred by Emperor Akbar on his courtier “Ghias Beg” who also was the father of Empress Noor Jehan.

Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb

Mughal history is rife with stories of wars, forced successions, rebellions, murders, betrayals and love stories. Story writers thrive on the tales inspired by successive rulers of the dynasty adding a twist and turn here and there.

Love story of Salim aka Emperor Jehangir and the courtesan Anarkali, though not mentioned in history books, is immortalised through movies like ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. Though the story might be a brainchild of a very imaginative storyteller but fact is Jehangir was definitely a ladies man. He had as many as fifteen wives and many other women in his harem.

His marriage to Mehr-un-nisa or Empress Noor Jehan is a lesser known and hardly glamorized love story. It is said that Mehr-un-nissa, daughter of Ghiyas Beg, an important man in Akbar’s court was the widow of Sher Khan, a general in the royal army. Jehangir who loved Mehr-un-nissa, tainted her husband as a rebel and got him killed in Bengal.

Noor Jehan of Persian roots was a powerful person. The king having established his prowess as a warrior with a large expanse of kingdom had become complacent. He whiled his time addicted to alcohol and opium and willingly let Noor Jehan run the kingdom as it suited her. It was she who commissioned the work on tomb for her father making it the first edifice for a non-royal.

The tomb built between 1622 and 1628 was the first structure that deviated from the red sandstone with marble buildings of Mughals to absolute use of white marble with pietra dura inlay work.

It stands on the banks of Yamuna. The rectangular cuboidal design has also earned it the name of ‘Jewel box’. Approached by a huge red sandstone gateway, it sits pretty amidst large gardens around it.

Entrance gate

A similar gate is built on the river side.

River side gateway

The design inside the mausoleum and gates are quite impressive. The patterns on the outer wall of tomb, the marble jalis and the faded murals and interior designs tell a tale of fine workmanship.

wall design at Itmadud daulah

By giving this tribute to her father, Noor jehan did not shy away in times when women were mostly confined behind the curtains…. this was one statement by Noorjehan that veils could wield power too.


About shoma abhyankar

I like to believe that I am a creative person. I read, write, paint, sketch, rustle up some quick and some elaborate meals for friends and family, love chess, su-doku and scrabble, can hum an old Hindi song tentatively, always stand up for women rights, hate fake people, bugs, roaches, spiders and cigarette smokers!! I graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Architecture in 1998. Soon after, I married an officer in Indian Air Force and have been on move since then. For a brief time of two years when we were posted in Pune, I worked as a junior architect in a firm. Being aware of frequent movement that we would have to live with, I chose to be a homemaker and concentrated on creating a warm and welcoming home for my family. But sitting at home without any creative activity was not my cup of tea. I learnt candle making and soon put up an exhibition at Poona Club when my daughter was barely a year old. I also enjoyed a short stint as a home-based entrepreneur, supplying chocolates and cakes on demand, while we were posted in Bareilly. With an inclination towards writing, I completed a diploma in ‘Creative Writing in English’ from Symbiosis College of Distance Learning, Pune. Then I discovered the blogosphere. Now I hope to not only travel and share my experiences with the world but also to pen a book someday....
Gallery | This entry was posted in Architecture, Beautiful India, Destinations, Historic India, Travel India, Uttar Pradesh and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Agra: Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb

  1. I didn’t like the city of Agra, but I loved The Taj & Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb.


  2. Yoshiko says:

    Beautiful photo 🙂


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