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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah

The name China-ka-Rauzah, or tiled mausoleum, is a nickname for the tomb of Shah Jahan's vizier, Shukrullah Shirazi, who built the tomb while he was still alive. As the name Shirazi suggests, Shukrullah was Persian, but the Mughals had acclimated themselves to Persian styles even before they came to India from what is now Uzbekistan. Did Shukrullah despise India? You might infer as much from this building which avoids everything Indian, including pillars and lintels, brackets, and chhatris--those little umbrellas so often perched in stone at the corner of monumental Indian structures. What Shukrullah built is best compared, at least within South Asia, to the Mosque of Wazir Khan in Lahore.

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Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 1

The approach today is a fine introduction to the local mastery of sandstone.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 2

Shukrullah's tomb. Where's the tile, you ask? The sad answer is, "mostly gone."

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 3

A closer look.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 4

Still closer. The technique was complex. A 2-inch layer of plaster was laid. Then a 1-inch layer, into which tiles 5/8 of an inch thick were laid. Each leaf petal was a single tile, and the tiles themselves were made of a sandwich of plaster, glass, and an intervening bonding layer.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 5

Another fragment. The tile technique came originally from Kashan in Persia and so the tiles themselves became known as kashi.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 6

The central chamber.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 7

The dome.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 8

Detail of arch.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 9

Exterior of dome.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 10

The view upstream along the Yumuna. The structure is part of the pump that once lifted water to the surrounding garden.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 11

Looking downstream; Agra is in the distance, and the Taj on the other side, just below the bend of the river.

Northern India: Chini-ka-Rauzah picture 12

The grimmer view upstream, with the main highway from Delhi to Kolkata on the bridge in the distance.

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