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Main view Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah

On the left bank of river Yamuna, is located the second most beautiful building in Agra; after Taj, the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah. Designed like a silver Jewel box in marble, this building is a marvellous example of delicacy and precision in inlay work. This tomb was the first mausoleum built on riverbank, till then only pleasure gardens were built on the riverbank.  This beautiful mausoleum was built by Nur-Jahan between 1622-1625 A.D. for her father Mirza Ghiyath Beg, who was appointed the prime Minister of the Empire shortly after Nur Jahan's marriage to Jehangir and titled as 'Itimad-ud-Daulah' which means Lord Treasurer of the Empire.


The tomb building consist of a quadrangular enclosure about 550 sq. feet, one side of which faces, the river Yamuna. This enclosure is pierced by four gateways in cardinal directions, out of which Eastern gateway is the main entrance gateway to the tomb and rest of three are merely ornamental.

The main tomb building is square in plan and is raised on a red sand stone plinth, in the centre of a 'Char Bagh' or four quartered garden. Hence, the overall setting of the building substantiate its aesthetic beauty.


The main entrance gate of the tomb is on Eastern side. This is the only functional gateway of the tomb, while the other three were built for the sake of symmetry in accordance with Char Bagh pattern, and may be appropriately called as water or 'garden pavilions'.

All gateways are built in red sand stone with inlaid marble designs. The main gateway measures 64'x26' (19.51x7.92m), and is double storyed. Dados of the main iwan and spandrels of arches are beautifully decorated with marble inlay work. The wings of the gateways are also double storied having brackets and lintel opening on ground floor and half recess on upper storey bearing arched painting in stylized arabesque designs. 


View of the main entrance gateway

Garden pavilion at the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah

The Northern and southern pavilions are more or less identical measuring 64'x24'(19.51x7.32m), having single storyed iwan in the middle and double storyed wings on sides, like main gateway. Each of these pavilions contains rooms and halls on upper floor. Stairways have also been provided on sides of facade. Beautiful chhatris on the top provides an aesthetic and proportionate look to the pavilions.

The western pavilion, which is multistoried is built on the river bank, is the largest and profusely decorated pavilion. It is believed that this pavilion could have served the purpose of pleasure pavilion during the life time of Itimad-ud-Daulah. This pavilion measures 64'x33' (19.51x10.06m) and is similar in plan like other gateways.


The tomb is situated in the centre of a Char Bagh or four quartered garden, surrounded on all sides by tanks and water channels. the garden measures 503' (153.34m) East-west and 492'(149.96m) The river water was drawn into two wells located on the river side, which are further connected to storage tanks. The storage tanks were the main source of water supply and were connected to other devices through water channels and underground Earthen pipes and hence constitute the integral layout of a Char Bagh.


Main tomb with garden


The main tomb is square in plan and is entirely finished in marble. The tomb building stands on a plinth of red sandstone and contains tanks with fountains in front of facades on all four sides. The main tomb is '70' (21.34m) in dimension and contains three broad arches on each of its four sides. The central arch provides the entrance and rest of the two openings are closed with beautiful jalis. Roof of the tomb has a small chajja supported on brackets and perforated balustrade, all around. Attached to the tomb building are four octagonal towers, at corners, which attain a circular form at a considerable height from the terrace and terminate into a beautiful chhatri supported on eight pillars. These chhatris are crowned with inverted lotus (Padmakosh) and Kalash finials. These towers play a dominant role in composition of facade as the super structure of the building does not have a dome in the middle of the terrace, but a square pavilion with pyramidal roof. The pavilion is about three feet higher than the roof level and is 26 sq. feet in dimension. The pavilion has two entrance one to the south, and one to the north, rest of the ten openings are closed with beautiful screens in geometrical designs. The pyramidal roof of the pavilion is crowned by 9 huge Padma Kosh and four Kalash finials at four angles. In the interior, the pavilion contains replicas of the graves of Itimad-ud-Daulah and his wife, vertically above the real grave.



Corner tower attached to Main tomb

The interior chamber of the main tomb is about 22 sq. feet having the graves of Nurjahan's mother Asmat Begum and Father Itimad-ud-Daulah. The entrance to this chamber is from the south direction and the graves lies in North-south direction. The graves are composed of yellow marble. The walls and floors of interior chamber contains beautiful inlay mosaic. Around this main chamber are four rooms at four corners interconnected through common doorways, which contains graves of other members of Nur Jahan's family.


The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah marks a step forward in the development of the art of mosaic and inlay. The whole interior of the tomb has been finished in white marble with very profuse, delicate and intricate stylized inlay and stucco designs.

Inlay Mosaic ornamentation at Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah


The main gateway of the tomb contains bold and profuse inlay work with white marble pieces on red sandstone. Geometrical designs and wine vases have chiefly been depicted, besides that stylized floresque and arabesque designs are used to fill lesser spaces. The red sandstone plinth of the main building also contains inlaid work in star pattern. The plinth contains running bands of highly stylized floral pattern and creepers in combination, which are bordered by flower pattern.

Inlaid Mosaic design on dado panel

Both exterior and interior of the tomb has been divided into dados, which bear geometrical designs and stylized creepers. The dado has appeared here in fully developed form as a distinct feature of architectural ornamentation. The upper pavilion contains superb floral scroll in multi coloured inlay work on the pavement. This scheme of ornamentation is carried on towers on all sides and upto the frieze.

Interior ornamentation, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah

Beside these flowing designs, cups and wine vases and guldastas, which are characteristics of the age of Jehangir are abundantly depicted in inlaid mosaic on the sides of entrance arches above the dados. Handles of these vares are serpentine, with bird's beak. Cypress motif has also been chiefly depicted on inner sides of the flanking arches.

A wide variety of rare and semi precious stones of different tints and tones have been used in inlay mosaic. These are agate, carnelian, turquoise, Jasper, lapis lazuli, opal, onyx, garnet and jade. These semi precious stones were used in combination with black, white and yellow marble for inlay work. 

Panel depicting cypress and dish containing grapes and pomegranates


The whole of the interior, which comprises the central hall, four corner chambers and side halls has painting and stucco ornamentation beautifully distributed over the walls above dados and ceilings. Guldastas, wine vases, cypress and other persian motifs are freely depicted. The eastern and western side halls have, extremely beautiful incised stucco on the ceilings which have actually been copied from embroidery designs. Besides the usual motifs animal motif have also been depicted in the painted designs, mostly inside the Jar shaped Guldasts. These motifs include peacock, hens, fishes, rat and dogs. The central chamber has also contains some animate designs, specially lions. Surprisingly human figures are also depicted in this scheme of painted panels. A number of jar shaped guldastas contains a chhatri, with a human figure in sitting posture.


Floral vase on the interior wall

Inscription have also been depicted on white marble panels of different length, on the frieze, above the arches, which rotates on all sides including the octagonal towers at the angle.

Frieze bearing inscription

Stucco floral design on the interior wall


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