Historical (Architectural) Repercussions of Uneven Affections in Mughal Polygyny: Kandahari Begum’s Tomb Compound

We all know the story of the Taj Mahal, how the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it as the tomb for his second and favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, and that it is one of the greatest and most expensive testaments to romantic love in all of human history blah blah blah. However, also in Agra lies (or lay) the tomb of his first wife, Kandahari Begum. And what a difference between the two tombs! Technically, Kandahari Begum’s tomb does not exist any more, just the compound it was situated in does, along with one of the entrance gates, a portion of the wall and a couple of the wall’s corner cupolas. The compound became property of the Bharatpur rulers at some point in the colonial era, and a mansion/haveli was built in place of the central tomb. Compare the buildings in these photos to the Taj …

Approach to the central mansion through the (erstwhile) tomb compound

kandahari 01

kandahari 02

The mansion that replaced the tomb

kandahari 03

kandahari 04

kandahari 05

An original gateway to the tomb complex, now used as a house

kandahari 06

kandahari 07

One of the existing corner cupolas of the compound wall

kandahari 08

kandahari 09

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