The other “Taj Mahal”

By | Category: Travel destinations

Mumtaz Mahal

You may only know the haunting picture of Princess Diana sitting by herself in front of the Taj Mahal. There is another place intimately linked and sometimes called Taj Mahal by tourist staff.

This is a place that far fewer of us visit and that is in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Overlooked by many visitors when they travel to India, this was where Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, was lain to rest for a few months until the mausoleum you know as the Taj Mahal was completed. Situated near the town of Burhampur, Ahukhana (it means “deer park”) is one of many destination that visitors should make the effort to visit in this area.

Less than 70,000 of us a year visit this state – in fact there are only about 275,000 foreigners in total who came here in 2012 so it really is a find for those people who like exploring destinations before they become overwhelmed by tourists. You won’t find that in Madhya Pradesh – yet – but that may not last for long in a state that has the most populous tiger reserves, alligator sanctuaries, heritage sites reflecting Moghuls, temples, unique festivals, waterfalls and scenery a little bit different from what you might expect.

Modern Burhampur doesn’t have the influence it weilded centuries ago when it was an important part of the Mohgul empire. Described by some as just a small town today, (despite a population of over 100,000) the Moghuls left their mark on the town. Shahi Qila is a fort that they strengthened for protection. Today it looks less fierce that it once did. You’re more likely to gather there with friends and enjoy the gardens as you walk around the ruins. Here are the baths, part Persian, part Moghul reminding the visitor that this part of India has had many influences. The remaining frescoes give clues to that influence but although guides will tell you that one contains early drawings of the Taj Mahal in Agra, take it with a pinch of salt. Story embroidery is a strong feature throughout India!

Whether there is truth in it or not doesn’t matter. The real truth is that this is a part of India that few tourists know, Taj Mahal links or not.

For more about Madhya Pradesh, click here.

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