Quite obviously, the most important tombs of this town lay in the world-famous Taj Mahal. But there are more beautiful tombs worth visiting in the city of Arga! Out of the many options, I’ve chosen these because it struck me as important to mention them in one article: both about the same size, one very similar in style but older than the Taj and the other totally different but from the same period.
This magical monument was built by Shah Jahan to keep the body of his favorite wife, and we have all seen a picture of it in a magazine or the window of a travelagency at least once. It took 20.000 people about 20 years to build but there are truely no words to describe the feeling when you look at it in real life for the first time.
This white giant towers over the many rooftop restaurants of the surrounding Taj Ganj neighborhood, can be admired without any obstruction from across the river and seems to change color over the course of a day. The mausoleum itself and all of the buildings, gates, gardens and pools around it are perfectly symmetrical in a breathtaking way. This makes you wonder if he is turning around in his own grave-tomb ever since it was added after his death, the only thing disrupting this amazing symmetry.
The detail of inlaid flowerpatterns is so intricate, fine and in abundant amounts that you immediately understand why it took so long to finish,the impressive entrance gates alone are worth a visit and the central dome is insanely big with a brass spire on top measuring 17 meters in length. Did you know that the mosque situated on one side can’t officially be in use since it isn‘t facing Mekka because of the symmetry?
Itimad ud daulah or Baby Taj
On the East (read: other) side of the river, about 3km North of the fort, the ‘Baby Taj‘ might be smaller than it’s relative but is actually older. This ‘Pillar of the State‘ was built by an emperor for his father-in-law and is smaller and less symmetrical than his world-famous family-member but actually quite similar in set-up. It sits in a garden against the backdrop of the Yamuna river, has four minarets on its corners and is entirely laid in with complex floral patterns.
This building is interesting because it’s the first Mughal structure entirely made of marble and with this type of inlay work. The motifs are a treat to the eye and on top of that you have this place mostly to yourself.
About another kilometer North and built for a poet/minister named Afzah Khan, this tomb is of purely Persian design and the only such building in the city. Due to unknown reasons, this monument wasn’t very well taken care of, so it looks a bit shabby at fist glance, especially because the architecture was quite plain to begin with. But once you walk around to the side and see the blue glazed tiles, I hope you understand why I made you come here. Interestingly enough, this tomb is facing towards Mecca.
Practical info and tips:
- Buy your entrance ticket for the Taj Mahal a day ahead or online so you don’t have to waste time standing in line.
- Be at the West-gate 30 minutes before sunrise to be one of the first entering the complex.
- Don’t bring any type of bag. This just complicates and prolongs the security procedure.
- Stop by … and let the cutest man of the entire country serve you breakfast.
- Spend the day visiting the Baby Taj (Itimad ud Daulah), Persion tomb (Chini ka Rauza) and maybe fort if you’re interested, by tuk-tuk.
- Be at Rambagh gardens from around an hour before sunset and just sit there admiring the view across the river.
(During our visit (oktober 2016) they were in the process of constructing some kind of viewing deck here so who knows what future plans are for this place.)