Friday, 7 October 2016

Mogul Emperor Akbar's wife Mariam-uz-Zamani and her tomb

Side view of Tomb of Mariam uz Zamani  www.mapsofindia.com
Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani in Sikandra   sikandra.uponline.
Mariam-uz-Zamani, the Hindu consort of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, was a talented woman. Heer Kunwari  born a Rajput princess and  also the eldest daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amer married  Emperor Akbar in 1562 CE.  She had the honor of holding the most covetous title  Mariam-uz-Zamani ("Mary of the Age") bestowed on her by  emperor Akbar. She died in Agra in 1623 after giving  birth to Jahangir. Her son Jahangir, who was very close to her had a tomb built  for her  between 1623 and 1627 CE. It is only a kilometer away from the Tomb of Akbar the Great, which was built as per her wish, the only nearest of all the tombs of his other wives. The tomb is located in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra. Many people visit Akbar's tomb and pay little attention to the tomb of Mariam, who had vast influence on her husband. She is also the grandma of Shah Jahan, the builder of the world famous Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Mariam uz Zamani. (Rajkumari Heer Kunwari)  aaishaaaqer.wordpress.com
Originally an open Baradari (pleasure pavilion) under Sikander Lodi, who built it in 1495 AD, the structure underwent some changes. The Moguls adopted this kind of design in 1623 AD and it  was converted into a tomb by making a crypt below the central compartment and remodeling it substantially.

The mausoleum  has  three tombstones: one in the underground mortuary chamber, which is the grave itself; the cenotaph above it; and another cenotaph on the terrace. The ground floor  has   some forty chambers built by Sikander Lodi. The center of the ground floor houses the cenotaph of Mariam. The grave is in the underground with a flight of steps leading to it.
Tomb of Mariam uz Zamani.  www.mapsofindia.com
This square tomb standing in the center of the Mogul  garden is  built on a raised platform with stairs on its northern and southern sides. There  are nine sections divided by two  corridors. The largest one is at the center, four smaller square ones at the corners.   The broad arches and vaulted ceilings are supported by the massive piers.
 

The facades (exterior) of the building were reconstructed with red sandstone panels. A chhajja with the addition of duchhati (mezzanine floors) at the corners by the Moguls are the added features.
 

The tomb has remodeled  chhatris and chhaparkhats which are the most important ornaments of the whole composition. The tomb has four massive octagonal chhatris on its four corners, and four oblong chhaparkhats in the center of the four sides. Each chhatri is made out of red sandstone with a white dome and stands on a square platform.  The Mogul  tombs normally are found without a dome. A unique aspect of the tomb is  in the front and at the back the structure is identical and the the back entrance is not a dummy but an actual entrance. This  is quite unusual in the case of Mogul tombs.

The beautifully decorated tomb  is characteristic of  red sandstone facade and panels with a variety of decorative designs, such as floral patterns and
geometrical floral designs gracing the piers between the arches. Such eye-catching decorations enhance the  splendor of this tomb.  The chhatris have beautiful carved columns with hexagonal bases. And white marble is inlaid underneath the dome. 

Mariam-uz-Zamani, remained a Hindu till her last days. However, she was buried here  as per Muslim custom.  

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Mariam-uz-Zamani