Bibi ka Maqbara meaning Tomb of the lady or in verbatim “Mausoleum or grave of the lady” was erected in 1678-79 by Aurangzeb’s son Prince Azam Shah in memory of his mother, Begum Rabia Durani.
Built in a late Mughal style of architectural design, loosely resembling the Taj Mahal of Agra, but not so elegant thereby earning a sobriquet as “poor man’s Taj Mahal”. It has all the features of a Mughal architectural ornamentation though not so graceful like other monuments due to the fading era of the Mughal dynasty.
Whatever the shortcomings, the structure stands in the middle of a spacious and poised landscaped garden designed with water channel fountains and exotic ponds flanked by broad pathways. This vast garden measuring over 450 by 270 meters with open pavilions on the three sides is enclosed by towering crenellated walls protected with fortress set at distances perfectly matching the ambience.
Further, displaying the worthwhile Mughal architectural design with distinguished surface ornamentation, an imposing gateway with brass-inlaid doors situated in the middle of the south wall is the name of the Persian architect, Atam Aula inscribed on it. The inscription also proclaims the cost of building the monument at Rs. 665,283 and 7 Annas.
The tomb raised on an elevated terrace overlooking the garden vista and waterways is the main focus of this vast enclosure. A flight of steps descending from the terrace leads to the octagonal chamber at the lower level containing the unadorned grave on a raised pedestal enclosed in a perforated lattice white marble screen. The gallery above is a high square structure having identical front elevation on four sides each dominated by a lofty portal with a pointed arch. They are flanked by arched niches of identical design with a tinge of Mughal architecture. A brass ornamental pot or finial crowns the whole masterpiece of the great dome that manifests a spherical profile. The four corners are occupied by four smaller domes.
A typical Mughal piece of innovative design to this monument is evident as the doorways lead to an octagonal gallery inside which is defined by stone screens overlooking the tomb from an upper level.
Like the World Heritage monument Taj Mahal, Bibi ka Maqbara has four towering minarets at the corner of the terrace and partially the octagonal bases reach the ground level. Interspersed with delicately molded weather resistant stucco binding, white marble has been used extensively for the monument. The tips of its pillars are made of red stone with the result that when the sun’s first rays falls on the monument at dawn, the transformation is amazingly beautiful when its reflection falls on water.
At their summits are miniscule square pavilions in red sandstone. Tucked away towards the west of the monument is a small mosque finely crafted with cusped arches and minarets at the corner. The façade is embellished with artistically decorated rosettes of the Mughal kingdom.
The best time to visit the tomb is between October and March as the weather is pleasant during these months.
All modes of transport are available to reach this monument from any part of India. Bibi Ka Maqbara is about 6 kms. from Aurangabad city.