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TOMB OF MARIAM-ZAMANI AGRA

Main view of tomb of Mariam-Zamani

Mariam Zamani is believed to be daughter of Raja Bharmal Kachhwaha of Ambar (Amer) or modern Jaipur. She married Akbar in 1562 A.D. and gave birth to Salim (Jehangir) in 1569 at Fatehpur Sikri. Her Rajput name is not known and in Mughal history she is addressed by the title of 'Mariam Zamani' (compassionate to the world) which was conferred upon her by Akbar on the eve of Salim's birth. She died at Agra in 1623 and stylistically her tomb seems to have been built by Jehangir.

The tomb of Mariam Zamani is located very close to the tomb of Akbar within the compound of Christian Missionary Society. This locality was founded by Sikandar Lodi and hence it received its name from him. The building was originally a barahdari which was later on converted by the Mughals into a tomb. For this, little alterations were made by the Mughals. A crypt (tahkhanah) was dug below the central compartment and it was made approachable by a board flight of red stone stairs. The remains of Mariam-Zamani was placed here. A cenotaph was placed in the central compartment just above the mortuary chamber and it was protected by red stone jalied balustrade on all sides. But the most important change was the reconstruction of the four facades of the building in accordance with the prevalent Mughal architectural style.

GENERAL PLAN

The tomb of Mariam-Zamani is situated in the centre of a spacious garden. The building is square in plan i.e. 146 on the side and rests on a plinth which is approached by stairs on the northern and southern sides. The tomb has two through corridors running from east-west and north-south which divides the tomb into nine sections. Those in the centre of east, west, north and south sides are oblong in shape and the centre ones are square in shape. These are further subdivided into smaller compartments. Brick and mortar has been used for construction here. Within the tomb building piers have been used to support the broad arches and vaulted ceilings. The central section of the tomb which is directly above the main mortuary chamber, contains the second grave of Mariam Zamani. Two stairways provided on the southern side of the main tomb building leads to the terrace. In the centre of the terrace is a brick masonry platform with a white marble cenotaph. This white marble cenotaph on the terrace is the third grave of Mariam Zamani.

In the centre of each side of the building is an massive arch set in a rectangular frame and flanked by three smaller arches and a set of double arches one over the other at the corners of the building. The upper rooms (duchhatti) at the corners of the building is approachable by stairways. On the terrace there are four massive cupolas in the four corners and four chhaparkhats in the middle of each side. The four cupolas stand on a square platform and is made of red sandstone. Beautiful brackets can be seen just below the chajja which have both ornamental as well as functional purpose. The dome of the cupolas is crowned by an inverted lotus or padmakosha. The chhaparkhats are rectangular in plan with eight pillars and a cluster of brackets just below the chajja which are very similar to the corner cupolas. 

View of the Chhaparkhat

View of one of cupola at the tomb of Mariam Zamani

ORNAMENTATION

The facade of the tomb building is finished with red sandstone and they bear variety of decorative designs like the sunk niche pattern or floral motifs etc. The plinth contains various stylized designs in horizontal panels. The nook shafts contain chervon pattern. The piers between the arches contain decorative patterns like wine-vases within sunk niches and geometrical as well as floral motifs.

The cupolas on the terrace built of red sandstone have beautiful carved columns. The base of the columns are hexagonal in shape and also bear beautiful carvings. The stone brackets just below the chajja add to the beauty of the cupolas. The frieze above the chajja and the one below the drum of the dome is beautifully carved and inlaid with white marble. The frieze of the chhaparkhats are also inlaid with white marble. They have pyramidal roof which was originally covered with glazed tiles.

In the interior of the tomb building traces of floral paintings can still be seen Stalactite designs have been mostly used in the corners.

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