Tajul Masajid - Bhopal:
initiated the building of a "Taj-Ul-Masjid" in 1868 along the
patterns of the Juma masjid in Delhi.
The Taj Mahal of Bhopal is located adjacent to this mosque.
Did you know there is a second Taj Mahal in India? While the
imposing Taj in Agra has captivated the world for centuries, its
less famous counterpart here is lying in ruins.
Nawab Shah Jahan Begum, Bhopal's 11th ruler, was a connoisseur of
art. Reigning between 1868 and 1901, the Begum built several
buildings in the city, the Taj Mahal included.
However, unlike Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal of Bhopal
was built as the Begum's residence, not as a mausoleum for her
The huge palace took 13 years to come up, from 1871 to 1884, at a
cost of Rs.70 lakh.
Situated besides Taj-ul-Masajid, one of Asia's largest mosques,
the Begum was so overwhelmed after its completion that she ordered
a three-year-long celebration Jashan-e-Taj Mahal.
The palace's architecture is a unique combination of British,
French, Mughal, Arabic and Hindu influences. It has 120 rooms,
including a Sheesh Mahal and a Sawan Bhado pavilion.
"Post-independence, the last ruler of Bhopal, Nawab Hamidullah
Khan, had allowed Sindhi refugees to stay in the palace. They
stayed here for almost four years before shifting to Bairagarh and
damaged the palace and its beauty," historian Sayed Akhtar Husain
Husain, 75, who spent a lot of time researching about the palace
and who wrote a book "The Royal Journey of Bhopal", said the Taj
was Bhopal's biggest palace.
"And its most creative and interesting part is the Sawan Bhado
pavilion -- a 50 ft by 50 ft gallery in the courtyard."
Most people are anguished over the fate of the exquisite palace.
One of them is educationist Savita Raje, who has been running an
awareness campaign for the last six years to resurrect the Bhopal
She has invited French architect Serge Santelli, the dean of the
School of Architecture in Paris.
"He is trying to save architectural marvels, mostly built by the
Begums of Bhopal. He had described Bhopal's Taj Mahal as 'one of
the best palaces in the world'," Raje told IANS.
In 2005, the Madhya Pradesh government declared it a state
heritage. But even now, nothing significant has been done for its
State archaeology commissioner Ashok Shah said he had "no idea" of
any restoration work being undertaken. "May be my subordinates can
help you," Shah told IANS.
His colleagues said they planned to prepare a detailed project
report and hoped that funds would be allocated soon.
The five-year restoration plan would cover conservation of
roofing, flooring and wall landscaping among others, they said.
Husain said: "A very devoted and sincere effort is needed to
restore the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, until now, the repair work
is just a wastage of time and money."
Bhopal's Taj deserved as much attention as the one in Agra, he
Akhtar can be contacted at email@example.com)