Often referred to as the "Baby Taj Mahal", the tomb of Itimad-ud-daula is a Mughal mausoleum and is often regarded as a copy of the Taj Mahal. This is the first tomb in India made entirely of marble. It is the tomb of Mir Gheyas Beg, who was a minister in the court of Shah Jahan. Visiting this tomb is like taking a step back in time into Agra's history.
Itimad-ud-daula's Tomb marks the transition from the first phase of the Mughal architecture to the second. This was the first structure to make use of pietra dura and the first to be built on the banks of the Yamuna River. It basically consists of Indo-Islamic architecture, with the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers. If you take a bird's eye of the monument, it looks like a jewel box set in a garden. This magnificent mausoleum, built on the banks of Yamuna, was to inspire the construction of one of the wonders of the world "Taj Mahal" in the later years.
Itmad-ud-daula has a special place in the chronicles of both history as well as architecture. This is precisely because Itmad ud Daula is the very first tomb in India that is entirely made out of Marble. This is actually a mausoleum that overlooks the River Yamuna and is a tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan.
The story of Itmad-ud-daula is an inspirational rag to riches saga. The tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is as interesting as the life of the person for whom it was built. Mirza Ghiyas-ud-din or Ghiyas Beg (later known as Itimad-ud-Daulah) was a poor merchant and lived in Persia (modern-day Iran). His wife gave birth to a daughter whom he wanted to abandon for he has no money to feed her but the persistent wails of the infant changed his heart. The baby girl brought a stroke of good luck to her parents, for Ghiyas Beg found a caravan that straightaway took him to the court of the great Mughal Emperor, Akbar. After Akbar's death in 1605, his son Jahangir became the Mughal emperor, who made Ghiyas Beg his chief minister or Wazir. Ghiyas Beg was also honored with the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah or the pillar of the state.
Jahangir fell in love with his widowed daughter who processes unspeakable beauty. She was later christened Noor Jahan and went down in the history as one of the most beautiful and artistically gifted women in the world. Jahangir conferred the title of Itmad-ud-daula or 'Pillar of the Empire' to his father-in-law. Noor Jahan ordered the tomb after the death of her father in 1622. Itmad-ud-daula is a pure white and elaborately carved tomb that conforms to the Islamic style of architecture. The Indo-Islamic architecture becomes prominent because of the fusion that this tomb displays. While the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers signify the Persian influence, the absence of a dome and the presence of a closed kiosk on top of this building and the use of canopies talks about the possible Indian influence. From out side, when you take a bird eye view, Itmad-ud-daula looks like a jewel box set in a garden. This tranquil, small, garden located on the banks of the Yamuna was to inspire the construction of the Taj Mahal in the later years.
The entrance to the tomb is made of red sandstone. After entering the gateway, you reach a beautiful garden, in the center of which lies the majestical white structure. It has four minarets standing out from the main tomb. Inside the monument, the cenotaphs of Itimad-ud-daula and his wife are set side by side. The walls are adorned with stunning paintings and stucco. These paintings are embellished with semi-precious stones carved in the form of trees and wine bottles.
Itmad-ud-daula's Tomb is located 4 km from Agra Fort and 2 km from Ram Bagh. It is situated on the road going from Agra Fort to the Ram Bagh. The best way to reach the fort is by taking an auto rickshaw from the Auto stand near Agra Fort.