India has a remarkable collection of historic and contemporary sacred architectural monuments built by rulers to speak of their grandeur. But that isn’t all. There have been magnificent monuments and historical forts, built by empresses and queens, which give an insight into the country’s glorious past. Here’s our pick of famous architectural wonders by women in history.
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Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
Humayun’s tomb is sublimely well proportioned, seeming to float above its symmetrical gardens. Constructed for the Mughal emperor in the mid-16th century by Haji Begum, Humayun’s Persian-born wife, the tomb marries Persian and Mughal elements, with restrained decoration enhancing the architecture.
Jama Masjid, Bhopal
The gold spikes crowning the squat minarets of the Jama Masjid Mosque, built in the 1830s by Qudsia Begum, glint serenely above the skull caps and veils swirling through the bazaar below.
Roshanara Bagh, Delhi
Roshanara Bagh is a Mughal-style garden built by Roshanara Begum, the second daughter of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It is counted as one of the biggest gardens in Delhi with a huge variety of plants, some even imported from Japan. There is also a lake inside the gardens, which is flocked by migratory birds during cold season.
Rani ki Vav, Patan
About 130 km northwest of Ahmedabad, the ancient capital of Gujarat, Patan’s former glory can be seen at the Rani ki Vav, a beautiful step-well, incongruously grand in this unassuming town. Built in 1063 by Rani Udayamati to commemorate her husband, Bhimdev I, the step-well is the oldest and finest in Gujarat with lines of carved pillars and over 800 sculptures, mostly on Vishnu-avatar themes.
Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal
Virupaksha Temple in Pattadakal is the city’s highlight, against an astounding landscape. It was built by Lokamahadevi, the Queen of Vikaramaditya II in about 740 AD to commemorate her husband’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.
Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, Agra
Nicknamed the Baby Taj, the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg should not be missed. This Persian nobleman was Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather and Emperor Jehangir’s wazir (chief minister). His daughter, Nur Jahan, who married Jehangir, built the tomb between 1622 and 1628, in a style similar to the tomb she built for Jehangir near Lahore in Pakistan.