The Bejeweled Marble Box
Part of the fascination of Agra is its incredible cultural wealth, so beautifully evident in the form of medieval Mughal tombs, one of which is the amazing tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah. Itmad-Ud-Daulah, a title which means, pillar of the state, was bestowed upon to Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the father of Nur Jahan, Emperor Jahangir's wife. Often labeled as the baby Taj Mahal, this tomb is also rightly called the "bejeweled marble box". Situated at the eastern bank of the Yamuna River, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens along with the main building. The tomb which was built between 1622 and 1628 is a fine manifestation of the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture. It is a structure built out of red sandstone with marble decorations that resembles Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. The mausoleum is set on a base about 50 sq meters and is about 1 meter high. The mausoleum itself is about 23 meters square. On each corner there are hexagonal towers, about 13 meters tall. This sun splashed white marble structure with its onyx and topaz decorations is one fine destination with its deeply indented images of cypress trees and fruit vases all of which form one beautiful structure that is supposed to have inspired the design of the Taj Mahal.