Known locally as “Baby Taj,” the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is a gorgeous white structure that actually predates the larger and more famous Taj Mahal by a few years. It was the first Mughal building created entirely in marble, and its existence marks the transition from sandstone to marble in Mughal architecture.
While smaller than the Taj Mahal, the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is arguably more delicate and ornate. Like the Taj, it stands on a raised platform, and it likely provided much of the inspiration for the Taj Mahal’s design. The exteriors are covered with intricate pietra dura (marble inlaid with stone), with a mix of arabesque geometric designs, carvings of plants and flowers, inscriptions from the Koran, and multihued mosaic work. Many guided half-day, full-day, and multi-day tours take in the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, along with such sights as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is a must-visit for history buffs and architecture fans.
- Visit early for the best photographs and to avoid crowds.
- There are some small sets of marble steps, so those with limited mobility may require assistance.
How to Get There
The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is located on the eastern banks of the River Yamuna, about a 15-minute drive from the Taj Mahal without traffic. It's easy to get to by rickshaw or taxi, but travelers wanting to avoid the hassle of negotiating are best off visiting as part of an organized tour, of which there are many.
When to Get There
The Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is open daily from sunrise to sunset, all year long, but you're best off visiting first thing in the day when temperatures are cooler and crowds are fewer (the masses generally hit the Taj Mahal first). Early morning also provides the best light for photographing the tomb’s gorgeous marble edifice.
Who Was Itimad-ud-Daulah?
Inside this tomb lie the remains of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, known by his title, Itimad-ud-Daulah, which means “pillar of the state.” He came to India from Persia and worked under the empire as a treasurer for the province of Kabul, and many of his daughters went on to marry into the empire. Beg's daughter, Empress Begum Noor Jahan, the 20th wife of Emperor Jahangir, commissioned the tomb for him.