Known popularly as the baby Taj, the I’timād-ud-Daulah is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the Iranian Wazir to Emperor Jehangir. The tomb was commissioned by none other than his daughter, Mehrunissa and is considered by many to be the blueprint on which the Taj was designed. Standing on the banks of the Yamuna, the stunning white maqbara marks the transition of the Mughal School of Architecture from red sandstone to white marble. It has the distinction of being the first tomb in India made entirely of marble, a fitting tribute to a great man. A poor Persian merchant, Ghiyas Beg travelled to Akbar’s court to seek employment. Through hard work, resilience, a strong family, and values, he rose up to be one of the most important men of Akbar’s and then Jehangir’s court. Jehangir married his daughter, the beautiful Mehrunissa, whom he named Noor Jehan. Ghiyas Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built.
The tomb of Ghiyas Beg stands tall and proud, amidst tranquil Mughal gardens and waterways, and echo the man who was laid to rest inside. The Persia style arched entrance and octagonal shaped towers have been merged with the Indian style central roof and canopies, reflecting the family that was quintessentially Persian but made India their home.
By the Banks of the Yamuna
Overshadowed by the famous monument of love, Agra itself has become synonymous with it. People not only come to see the Taj Mahal in all its glory but attempt to find new and ingenious ways of photographing it from all angles. One such space to view the monument is on the banks of the Yamuna, about a kilometre walk along the east gate of the Taj. However, once you have reached the bank, early in the morning to catch the first light, you are forgiven for perhaps forgetting your initial reason for being up at an early hour. The banks at this time are quiet and serene, with priests just beginning their morning rituals in the tiny temple by the river bank. There are a few others sitting peacefully, some praying, another meditating, and all gazing quietly at the Yamuna as she flows calm and clear. A lone boatman gently floats to the middle of the river, as if to decide which bank he wants to settle on. You join them (or the boatman) and watch as the sun slowly rises, throwing light on the river, the monument and you. The banks have recently been cleaned, and it is a pleasure to spend time at this tranquil place, with the Taj in the background.