One of the most enduring myths surrounding the Taj Mahal is that of an unfinished second black Taj Mahal, across the pond from the world-famous monument.
According to popular legend, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan planned to construct a replica of his masterpiece Taj Mahal in black marble on the opposite side of the Yamuna River.
It was intended to be a mausoleum for the emperor himself, but the plan was left unfinished, as he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in Agra fort.
Irrespective of whether Shah Jahan intended to build a black Taj Mahal or not, the image of two Taj Mahals facing each other on either side of the Yamuna River continues to fire the imaginations of many.
However, does India actually have another ‘Black Taj’?
The tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan is a mausoleum situated in the Teressa neighbourhood of Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh, about 7 km away from the Burhanpur Railway Station.
Constructed between 1622 and 1623 AD, it is locally called the ‘Kaala Taj Mahal’ or ‘Black Taj Mahal.’
Shah Nawaz Khan was a Mughal Army commander, the oldest child of Abdul Rahim Khankhana and the grandson of Mughal general Bairam Khan.
Khan passed away at age 44 and was buried at Burhanpur, beside the Utawali river.
Connection to Taj Mahal
The ‘Black Taj’ also has Shahnawaz Khan’s wife’s grave. It has a square shape, resembling a large dome, surrounded by a garden, and has hexagonal minarets with arched verandas on each of its four corners. Beautiful paintings can be seen on the walls and it is styled much like its more well-known cousin in Agra, albeit considerably smaller.
There is a deeper connection though.
According to historian Mohammad Naushad, when Shah Jahan, who regularly held court in the town, came to Burhanpur, he had brought his wife along.
Mumtaz Mahal died at the time of the birth of their fourteenth child in Burhanpur in 1631 and was buried there for six months, in a place now known as Pine Garden.
Shah Jahan wished that the Taj Mahal should be built in Burhanpur itself, but found the place and its soil unsuitable for sucha a large structure. He then decided on Agra to build one of the most enduring symbols of love in history, owing to its proximity to Rajasthan and its precious marble.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius