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Bibi ka Maqbara

Taj Mahal vs Bibi ka Maqbara: 5 differences between these 2 monuments

By | Histoire, Monument | One Comment

The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous monument in the world. Every year, millions of people come to India to see this monument. The Bibi ka Maqbara does not have this success. Oftenly described as the Taj of Deccan or the Mini Taj for marketing reasons, the Bibi ka Maqbara is very different from the Agra monument.

This article will give you an idea to know the differences between these two monuments.

1- The Taj Mahal and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara: a very different story

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, one of the most famous monument in the world

The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1654 in Agra. Shah Jahan wanted to give one last home worthy of the name to his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal as a symbol of love.

While finishing that in Agra, in 1651 the construction of Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad began. This is the mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani, wife of Aurangzeb. It´s construction lasted for 10 years.

Bibi ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara

If the Taj Mahal can´t go away from controversy over its construction and it´s use (see below), the Bibi ka Maqbara is at the centre of a controversy. Indeed, the dates of construction of the Deccan of Taj are from 1651 to 1661. The official sources says Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb built it for his mother but the latter is born in 1653. Other sources dated the construction of the monument in 1668 to validate the mystery that Azam Shah was the supervisor of the construction.

In a book called “Aurangzeb, the man and the myth“, by Audrey Truschke says its constructed by the order of Aurangzeb. It is actually more likely that Aurangzeb built the Bibi ka Maqbara.

The controversy comes from the fact that Aurangzeb is the most hatred person in India hence nothing good has been done by him and no heritage belongs to him.

2-Each monument is a symbol of something different

The Taj Mahal is the universal symbol of eternal love. Indeed, Shah Jahan wanted through this mausoleum to pay tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. When she died, the emperor was devastated. He called on the greatest architects and craftsmen to create the most beautiful proof of love. Even today, thousands of couples come to the mausoleum to get their picture there. Newlyweds come to capture their love at the entrance of this marvel.

The Bibi ka Maqbara does not belong to this symbol. And for a good reason, it is not love that has driven its construction but ambition. Indeed, Aurangazeb was the governor of Deccan when he began the construction of the mausoleum. In the Mughal tradition, it is not the first son or child who inherits the throne but the one who shows his aptitudes. At each death of an emperor, a war of succession is fought between the heirs.

The construction of the Bibi ka Maqbara was a way for Aurangzeb to show his ambitions to want to become emperor over his two brothers. This is why the realisation of the book was not as tidy as the Taj Mahal. Indeed, in 1658, Aurangzeb will become emperor.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, the symbol of love

3- The materials used make a big difference on the final result

For Shah Jahan, nothing was too good to prove his love to his late wife. So he spent lavishly and used the best materials possible. The mausoleum is totally in marble with inlaid precious stones. The result is an immaculate monument that changes colours during the day. This makes the place even more magical.

Marble and plaster are the main materials of Bibi ka Maqbara. Plaster does not have the brilliance of marble and the feel. It is also more friable and less resistant to rain. This makes the building more fragile.

4- Two monuments with very different shapes

When we look at the photos of the two monuments, we immediately realise their difference in shape.

The Taj Mahal is octagonal while the Bibi ka Maqbara is square.

The octagonal shape is a classic among the Mughals. For them, the number 8 is an auspicious number and brings good luck. That is why we find its evocation in the Mughal constructions: 8 platforms in the gardens of Bibi ka Maqbara, octagonal form of the tomb at the Bani Begum garden of Khultabad, etc …

If the octagonal shape is respected in the walls of the mausoleum in Aurangabad, the exterior is square. It makes the building more rectilinear and gives another perspective to the work.

5- Different perspective for the monuments

As we have said, the Taj Mahal is the most visited monument of India. It is so successful that the government has just increased the entrance fees for Indians and foreigners to reduce the number of visitors. Many restoration plans have been undertaken. The gardens are very well maintained and the irrigation system is in good working order.

Unfortunately, it is suffering from a renewed interest in his destruction. Indeed, Hindu extremists argue that the Taj Mahal is actually a temple of Shiva and that Shah Jahan has made it modified. P.N Oak, chairman of the Indian revisionist institute, asked the Supreme Court in 2000 to search the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan for the original Nigam. This request was rejected since all the experts agree that this monument belongs to the Mughal era. Last year, a new request was made to pray Shiva on Monday inside the mosques that are on the side. Again, this request was rejected but recently a group of extremists came to do a puja (worshipping the Hindu god)

The Bibi ka Maqbara suffers from its comparison with the monument of Agra. Few visitors come to see it and many tourists do not even know about it. Controversies over its past and the lack of interest of visitors make the monument deteriorate. No sustainable restoration plan is planned.

6- Why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara?

This is probably the question you ask yourself after reading this article. There are several reasons why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara is interesting.

The first is that it is an element of the Mughal capital of the seventeenth century. Not visiting the Maqbara is passing the splendour of the past. It’s also missing to not understand Aurangzeb’s ambitions.

It is also a proof of the decadence of the empire. Indeed, under Aurangzeb, the empire reached its territorial apogee. But the time of splendour was over. More participation in the first arts, more music at the court, more philanthropy towards the artists and especially finished the big architectural projects.

There is an undeniable charm when you arrive at the monument. It is majestic and there is a nostalgic side. You will definitely not have the same emotions watching it as in Agra. But you will feel something we can guarantee you.

In order, the last reason is more altruistic. Visit the Bibi ka Maqbara to finance its restoration and also its protection. The protection of history is a new thing in India and is still very selective. To protect the Bibi ka Maqbara is to protect part of the history that some nationalists would like to make disappear.

In order to make you discover this monument, we have created bike tours and also a tour on Aurangabad, the Mughal capital

Chand Minar

Devgiri Fort: History of a Capital

By | Histoire | One Comment
There are places which are hidden by the time and where nature gradually resumes its rights. It is difficult to imagine that these places are steeped in history. This is what happens at Devgiri fort (Daultabad fort)

Devgiri: mythological origins

Before being called Daultabad, this place was named Devagiri, literally means mountain of gods. In Hindu mythology, Shiva came to observe the region from the top of the mountain. From this mythological past, they have remained a temple at the top of Daultabad.
Temple de Shiva au sommet de Daultabad

Temple of Shiva at the top of Daultabad

 A strategic location and the first capital

Although there are traces of occupation of the mountain since 100 BC, it was the Yadava who made Daultabad, a fort. In 1187, Bhillama V, a Yadava prince, established his new capital on Devgiri Mountain.
The Yadavas are an ancient people who think they are descended from Yadu, a king from the mythology cited in the Puranas. Bhillama V comes from the Seuna dynasty, who claim to be from Yadava. They are commonly called the Yadava of Devgiri. Daultabad remained the capital until the fall of their empire in 1313.
During their reign, they endowed their capital with three lines of defence protected by watch towers. They also built a unique entry system to trap their enemies inside the citadel. They also built the dark tunnels that are still difficult to cross to get to the top of the mountain. All these defensive techniques allowed the citadel to be one of the rare strongholds in the world which have been never invaded. Indeed, all the occupants of these places have always surrendered.

The capital of India

A legend tells that the first time Muhammad bin Tughluq saw Devgiri, he fell in love with it and decided to make it his capital. In fact, historians has given strategic reasons for this decision. Muhammad bin Tughluq was a sultan from Delhi from 1325 to 1351. He was the second king of the Tughluq dynasty which was founded by his father, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq.
carte du sultanat de Delhi

Delhi sultana map

During his reign he greatly enlarged his empire. And that is precisely what would have decided to transfer his capital from Delhi to Devgiri.

Daultabad (name given by the Sultan) was central to the territorial evolution of the empire. His changes in capital was a decision of more tactical than love.
In addition, Muhammad bin Tughluq would have wanted to make his new capital a center of Islamic culture on the Indian subcontinent. This would have allowed him to have better control over the Deccan region, by reducing Hindu rebellions. He invited many ulemas for this purpose. This worked rather well since the area is known as the Valley of Saints. Khultabad was a spiritual capital in the 15th century.

A complicated and unsustainable capital change

For the success of the transfer, Muhammad bin Tughluq had to force the inhabitants of Delhi to leave. For this he used force. Ziauddin Barani, a politician of the time, observed: “Without consulting or weighing the pros and cons, he ruined Delhi, which for 170 to 180 years, prospered and rivalled Baghdad and Cairo.The city with its Sarais and its The suburbs and its villages stretched for four or five leagues. Everything was destroyed (in the abandoned sense), there was no longer a cat or a dog.”
The transfer began in 1328 and was completed in 1331. Many people died during the largest population movement in Indian history after the 1945 partition.
Daultabad remained a capital of empire less than 10 years because in 1339, Muhammad bin Tughluq decided to go back to Delhi. For all this, he inherited the nickname of crazy king. The lack of water and the invasions to the north of the empire defeated the will of Muhammad bin Tughluq.
On his death, the Sultanate of Delhi arrived to the foot of Devgiri for the empire of Bahmani in the Deccan. Even if Daultabad was the capital, it never had the prestige it could have been in being the capital of the Indian subcontinent.
This city become a secondary city included with different kingdoms or empire.

Abandoned monument

As often when a place has had a glorious past, it has a duller present. Today, Devgiri Fort is a tourist attraction that attracts more school buses or students than national or international tourists. Located on the highway to the famous caves of Ellora, people usually stops to just take a picture from a far end.

In a future article, we will talk about beauties to discover inside and around the fort.

If you are interested in a guided tour, do not hesitate to contact us.

carte de l'empire moghol

The Mughal empire

By | Histoire | One Comment

The Mughal empire designates the empire created by Babur in 1526 and was disappeared with the colonization of India by the British in 1858.

The word Mughal is derived from the name Mongolian, Babur always said to be inherited by mughal powers because his mother was part of Genghis Khan’s family and his father was from Turkish Chaghatai community.

Before the creation of the  Mughal empire:

Babur is the descendant of Tamerlane who reigns over Central Asia, Tamerlane created Timurid empire and whose Samarkand was the capital. Empire of Tamerlane was maintained itself willy nilly. It wasn’t strong empire. On the death of Tamerlane, his empire was divided between his grandchildren who was grandfather of Babur inherits the region of Ferghana. When he ascends the throne, Babur was only 12 years old and has to face a revolt of the aristocracy. Babur assures his throne by crushing the revolt. In 1497 and 1514, it was time of war against the Uzbeks and Babur lost all its territories. He went to Kabul where he settled his capital. From 1521, he harassed the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi. It was April 21, 1526. By winning the battle of Panipat Babur became master of northern India and became the first great emperor of the Mughal empire.

Babur (14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530):

babur

After defeating to Sultan of Delhi, Babur proclaimed himself emperor of India and seized Agra. In 1527, he won the victory against Rana Sangha and became the undisputed master of Northern India.

He spent the rest of his life organizing his empire.

The legend says that when Humayun, his beloved son fell ill, he begged God to take him in his stead. Babur died on 26 December 1530 and was buried in Kabul.

Humayun (March 17, 1508 – January 27, 1556):

humayun

He spent most of his reign fighting, was stuck in the war of south and east, he was obliged to flee in 1540 to Persia. Thanks to the Shah Tahmasp I (king of a persia) who gave him an army to regain his throne, he again settled.

To conquer India in 1544, After a bitter battle with his brother for control of Kandahar, he set out for Northern India. In July 1555, he returned triumphantly to Delhi after 15 years of exile.

From his exile in Persia, Humayun brought back Persia as the official language of the kingdom and a taste for Persian culture that was found in Mughal art.

On his death, his wife Hamida built a mausoleum for him in Delhi, It was the first place with a garden, which marks the beginning of the golden age of Mughal art.

Akbar (October 14, 1542 – October 27, 1605): the Greatest Mughal emperor

akbar

Considered as the greatest empire of the Mughal emperors, Akbar (greatest in Arabic) brought stability to his empire and an original organization. He was only 14 when he succeeded for his father. He freed himself from the regency of his tutor Bairam Khan after 4 years. From his reign, one can retain a territorial enlargement as well as a great religious tolerance. He refuses forced conversions of all religions, bring Hindus, Muslims and Jesuits to debate religion before him.

Akbar as a great builder, built Fathelpur Sikri as mughal empire’s new capital. We also owe him the strong red of Agra.

The end of his reign is marked by a war against his son Salim, the future emperor Jahangir eager to be on the throne.

Jahangir (September 9, 1569 – October 28, 1627)

jahangir

During his reign, the empire remained in a state of permanent war in order to increase its territory. He found himself confronting formidable opponents like Malik Ambar in the Deccan to whom he dedicated a miniature. The head cut on a peak, Malik Ambar receives the arrows of Jahangir.

During his reign, art, literature and architecture prospered. He was responsible for the gardens of Shalimar in Srinagar.

Shah Jahan (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666)

shahjahan

Surely the most famous Mughal emperor in the West. His love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, caused him to built the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful monument in the world and a symbol of the country. He also built Jama Masjid of Delhi, the largest mosque in India as well as the fort and gardens of Lahore.

During his reign the empire grows towards south, thanks to his son Aurangzeb who took Daulatabad in 1633 to grow his empire.

Under Shah Jahan, Mughal architecture reached its peak. His reign is also marked by a hardening towards non-Muslims.

Aurangzeb imprisoned his father at the red fort of Agra, to punish him for supporting his brother for the succession of throne.

Aurangzeb (3 November 1618 – 3 March 1707)

aurangzeb

He is the last great Mughal emperor. The empire reaches its territorial apogee spanning virtually all of present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and parts of northern Burma.

He was a warlord throughout his reign. He has opened many conflicts with minorities such as Sikhs in the Punjab or Marathas in the Deccan. He transferred his capital to Aurangabad to control the advance of his troops in southern India. He led a simple life, he banned music and the arts at court. He is often described as a despot, religious intolerant and cruel. Audrey Truschke’s book tries to restore the reality of Aurangzeb’s reign.

His reign marks the end of the empire that will disappear 101 years after him.

The end of the Mughal empire (1707 – 1858):

Most of Mughal emperors after Aurangzeb had no greatness reigning for less than 10 years. In the year 1719, six emperors were there to reign Mughal Capital. The last of the Mughal emperors, Muhammad Bahadur Shah, was dethroned by the British and exiled to Rangoon.