Offbeat Alert: All You Need To Know About The Black Taj Mahal In MP's Burhanpur

The Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan, with its design, intricate carvings, and historical significance, offers a fascinating glimpse into the past
Black Taj Mahal In MP's Burhanpur
Black Taj Mahal In MP's Burhanpur Wikipedia

The idea of a "Black Taj Mahal" has intrigued historians, travellers, and architectural enthusiasts for centuries. The most famous legend of a Black Taj Mahal pertains to Shah Jahan's mythical plan to build a black marble mausoleum directly opposite the white Taj Mahal in Agra. However, Madhya Pradesh has its version of the Black Taj Mahal, which is lesser-known but equally fascinating. This story dives into the historical, architectural, and cultural aspects of this enigmatic structure in Madhya Pradesh.


Madhya Pradesh's Black Taj Mahal, officially known as the Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan, is in Burhanpur and has a rich history. Burhanpur was an important city during the Mughal era, serving as a strategic military outpost and a cultural hub. It was in this city that Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, spent significant time, and it is also where his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died.

Shah Nawaz Khan, whose tomb is often referred to as the Black Taj Mahal, was a high-ranking Mughal nobleman. He was the son of Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana, a prominent figure in Akbar's court known for his literary and administrative prowess. Shah Nawaz Khan served under Akbar and Jahangir and was known for his loyalty and military skill.

Architectural Marvel

The Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan is an exquisite example of Mughal architecture, albeit on a smaller scale than the grand Taj Mahal in Agra. The structure is built primarily from black basalt, giving it the distinctive dark hue that has earned it the moniker "Black Taj Mahal."

The tomb showcases the quintessential elements of Mughal architecture: symmetry, intricate carvings, and a combination of Islamic, Persian, and Indian architectural styles. The central dome, flanked by minarets, resembles the Taj Mahal, albeit in a more subdued and intimate setting.

Black Taj Mahal In MP's Burhanpur
Black Taj Mahal In MP's Burhanpur Wikipedia

Key Features

Symmetry and Layout: The tomb's layout adheres to the Mughal penchant for symmetry. The main mausoleum is octagonal, surrounded by a well-maintained garden that follows the Charbagh (four-part garden) pattern, symbolising paradise in Islamic culture.

Dome: The central dome is the most prominent feature, crafted from black basalt. Though not as grand as the white marble dome of the Taj Mahal, it is equally impressive in its craftsmanship.

Minarets: Flanking the main structure are four minarets, adding to the visual balance and symmetry. These minarets are shorter than the Taj Mahal but are designed with similar attention to detail.

Intricate Carvings: The tomb is adorned with elaborate carvings and inlays, showcasing floral patterns and calligraphy. These decorations highlight the skilled artisanship of the Mughal era and add to the tomb's aesthetic appeal.

Cultural Significance

The Black Taj Mahal in Madhya Pradesh is an architectural wonder and a cultural landmark.

Mughal Heritage: Burhanpur, as a city, played a significant role during the Mughal era. It was a centre of administration, culture, and military operations. The presence of the tomb highlights the importance of Burhanpur in the Mughal narrative.

Local Traditions: The tomb is a site of local reverence, with annual commemorations and cultural events in its vicinity. These events often include traditional music, dance, and storytelling, keeping the legacy of Shah Nawaz Khan alive.

Tourist Attraction: Though not as famous as the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Black Taj Mahal attracts a steady stream of tourists, historians, and architecture enthusiasts. It offers a quieter, more intimate experience, allowing visitors to explore its beauty without the crowds typical of more famous sites.

The Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan
The Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan travelwithpixelss / Shutterstock

Legends And Myths

Like its more famous counterpart in Agra, the Black Taj Mahal is shrouded in various legends and myths. One popular legend suggests that Shah Jahan, mourning the death of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in Burhanpur, intended to build a black marble mausoleum for himself across from her white marble tomb. However, this plan was never realised due to political and financial constraints.

The Information

Visiting Hours: 9 am-4 pm; closed on Wednesdays

Getting There: Take a flight to Indore, the nearest airport, about 180 km away. From Indore, you can get a taxi or bus to Burhanpur. Alternatively, Burhanpur is well-connected by road and rail, making it accessible from major cities.

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