Once upon a time, the banks of the River Yamuna was lined with forty five beautiful gardens as per the map in Jaipur City Museum. It is in the garden mansion of Raja man Singh that Emperor Shah Jahan built the grand mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal- the Rauza e Munawwara or as its known today the Taj Mahal.
Not many of the gardens remain but we can see the pavilions and burjis scattered along the bank. One of them houses a tomb with glazed tile ornamentation called Chini ka Rauza.
Visitors to Agra invariably end up in front of the Taj Mahal, or Itmad-ud Daula’s tomb and venture out to Fatehpur Sikri.
It’s only a few who go to the Chini ka Rauza. Rauza is a Persian word which means garden and is used to describe a tomb of a saintly person. This is the Rauza of Afzal Khan, a Persian poet who was the wazir of Shah Jahan. He was the brother of Amanat Khan , the famous artist who designed the calligraphy on the Taj mahal
Though Afzal Khan died in Lahore 1639, he had already built this tomb for himself and was brought here for burial. It was built around the same time as the Taj Mahal was being built.
It stands out because it is not built in the usual marble or red sandstone style of architecture prevalent in Agra but in the Persian style with beautiful glazed tiles. Most of the tiles covering the exterior have been destroyed but the interior gives clues of its grandeur. It is three storied. Today there is just one pavilion standing near the ghat and its approach gate from the ghat has vanished.
Since porcelain is known as chini (chinese) in many parts of India it got the name Chini ka Rauza.
The plan is square with a proportionately small dome on it with the inverted lotus and finial. There are archedcentral bays on each side, which form the large entrance arches (iwans). On thecornersaresmall minarets known as guldastas.
The exterior is now a muddy brown and hardly prepares one for the glory of the interior. One can only imagine what it must have looked like in the 17th century.
It has calligraphy from the Quran on the band bellow the drum of the roof and many arched windows above it. The interior is painted and was probably repaired in the 19th century.
The entrances are honeycombed
There are two graves inside it without any inscription. If there was one it has got lost in time.
The lone surviving burji of some garden.
It is one km on some crowded lanes from the tomb of Itmad ud Daula and is governed by the ASI timings. Entry is free.