Tomb of Etmad-ud-daulah

Tomb of Etimad-Ud-Daulah

(1622 A.D.)

Hindi Version  |  View Gallery

This is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife Asmat Begum. He hailed from Iran and served Akbar. He was father of the famous ‘Nur-Jehan’ and grandfather of ‘Mumtaz-Mahal’, of the Taj Mahal fame. He was made vazir (Prime Minister) after NurJehan’s marriage with Jehangir in 1611. He held the mansab of 7000/7000 and the title ‘Itimad-Ud-Daulah’ (The Lord Treasurer). He died at Agra in 1622. A few months after his wife’s death. Nurjehan built this tomb for her parents between 1622 and 1628. Her own tomb and that of Jehangir are at Lahore.

The tomb situated on the eastern bank of the river Jamuna, is planned in the centre of a Char-Bagh (Four quartered garden), with the usual enclosing walls and side buildings. As conditioned by its situation, the main gate is on the eastern side ornamental gateways with prominent iwans are built in the middle of north and south sides. A multi-storeyed open pleasure-pavilion is there on the western side, overlooking the river impressively. These buildings are of red sand-stone with bold inland designs in white marble.

Shallow water-channels, sunk in the middle of the raised stone paved pathways, with intermittent tanks and cascades divide the garden into four equal quarters. They are only slightly raised from the parterres which could be converted into flower beds, space for large plants and trees was reserved just adjoining the enclosing the enclosing walls, leaving the mausoleumfully open to view.

The main tomb of white marble is marvellously set in the centre of this garden. It stands on a plinth of red stone having in the middle of each side, facing the central arch, a lotus-tank with fountain. The tomb is square in plan with octagonal towers, surmounted by chhatris, attached to its corners. Each facade has three arches, the central one providing the entrance, and the other two on the sides being closed by jalis. Each side is protected by a chhajja and a jalied balustrade above it. There is no dome, instead, the building is roofed by a square ‘Barahdari’ having three arched openings on each side which are closed by Jalis except in the middle of North and South sides. It is protected by a chhajja above which is the chaukhandi (Pyramidal) rood, crowned by lotus-petals and kalash finials. The interior is composed of a central square hall housing the cenotaphs of Asmat Begum and Mirza Ghiyas. Four oblong rooms on the sides and four square rooms on the corners. All interconnected by common doorways. The cenotaph of Asmat Begum occupies the exact centre of the hall, corner rooms, have tombstones of Nurjehan’s daughter Ladli Begum and her other relations.

The most important aspect of this tomb is it polychrome ornamentation, beautiful floral, stylized arabesque and geometrical designs have been depicted on the whole exterior in inlay and mosaic techniques, in various pleasing tints and tones. Wine-vase, Dish-and-Cup, Cypress, Honey-suckle, Guldasta and such other Iranian motifs, typical of the art of Jehangir, have been emphatically used. Some compositions have been inspired by the plant-studies of ‘Ustad Mansur Naqqash’, the famous ‘Fauna and Flora’ painter of Jehangir. Some stylized designs have also been done in exquisite carving, both incised and relief. They look like embroidery work done in ivory. Delicacy is their quality. Stucco and painting have been done in the interior where minute animal and human figures have also been shown the inspiration has come from the contemporary art of painting. There is no glazed tiling and the decoration is largely by colour stones which is an indigenous development. By far, it is the most gorgeously ornamented Mughal building. It testifies that the Mughals began like titans and finished like jewellers’. Chapters 48 and 73 of the Quran have been carved on the 64 panels on the external sides of the ground floor. The date of writing A.H. 1037/1627 A.D. is mentioned in the last panel. Chapter 67 if the Quran is inscribed on the 12 internal panels of the upper pavilion.

The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is a masterpiece of the domeless class of Mughal tombs. It is the first building finished in white marble and marks. The transitional phase from redstone to white marble, from Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandara to the Taj Mahal. It reflects the personality of the polished Iranian who lies buried here, and, more than that, the formal and ornamental character of its builder Nurjehan who ruled the Mughal empire from behind the curtain for 16 years (1611-27). This is protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India.