Last year on our trip to Kenya, Chuck and I met a gentleman on our flight from London to Nairobi. He was seated next to me on the flight down, and coincidentally, two weeks later, on our trip back, we ran into him and his son.
While we were talking, he mentioned that he had spent a considerable amount of time in India. We talked a little about our plans and mentioned our excitement to see the Taj Mahal. He told us that regardless of our plans, we were to be sure not to miss seeing the Baby Taj.
Truthfully, this was something we, like most people, knew absolutely nothing about. After a little digging, we realized that this treasure was indeed part of our travel group’s plans on the way to the city of Agra.
The History of the Baby Taj
The Baby Taj is the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah and is often described as a “jewel box.” For many, it is regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. The tomb was built by Nur Jahan for her father, who was called a “pillar of the state” or I’timād-ud-Daulah.
The Baby Taj was constructed in six years, from 1622 to 1628, five years before the construction of the Taj Mahal began.
The Grounds and the Tomb
Much like other forts, places, and tombs in India, the property is surrounded by walls for protection. The outer walls, guard posts, and buildings are primarily red sandstone, much of which is inlaid with marble.
The grounds are filled with flower gardens, shrubs, and fruit trees, which are tended by local workers.
The tomb itself is a square white marble building with four towers. Nearly every inch of the building, both inside and out, are adorned with inlaid stonework.
The tomb’s windows are covered with intricately carved screens to not only allow for airflow but to let people inside to look out without being seen. These screens are very common in royal palaces, typically to enable women a view of the outside while protecting their privacy.
The inlaid marble surrounding the building were in bright sunny shades of yellow and gold in several geometric and floral patterns. The detail is truly amazing and must have taken immense patience to craft
The interior of the tomb was also decorated with inlays in the same colors and patterns. Additionally, some areas surrounding the actual tombs, which were decorated with hand-painted vases, urns, lanterns, and flowers.
The entire complex is located along a river walk directly across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal. With the help of Chuck’s long lens, we were able to capture some shots of the backside of the magnificent Taj Mahal and its surrounding buildings.
We are thrilled our travel companion shared his knowledge of the Baby Taj and that it was part of our Gate 1 Travel tour itinerary. Its detailed inlay work is something to behold.
This is a beautiful site that is very accessible, with just a few steps. It’s small enough to combine with other local sites and even though we didn’t explore the riverwalk it appeared to be a great place to wander.