Bibi Pari (Lady Fairy) better named Iran Dukht, was the daughter of Nawab Shaista Khan, and was betrothed to Prince Muhammad Azam, but unfortunately died in A.D. 1684. Over her remains the tomb was constructed by Shaista Khan, who took special care to import building materials from North India, such as basalt from Rajmahal, sandstone from Chunar and white marble from Jaipur. The building exists in its complete form, hut it lacks the grace of South Gate.
Tomb of Bibi Pari Dhaka
Tomb of Bibi Pari Dhaka
The tomb stands in the middle of a platform, originally paved with stones. Externally it is 60’ square with octagonal domed corner minars. The facade shows three entrances, the central one larger than others. The main entrance is a four-centred stilted arched opening under a half-dome, and set within a projected mass, bordered by slender fluted minarets. The side-doorways arc simple flat-arched opening tinder a semi-dome, with an additional arched window above. The wall and the towers are relieved with panels. Underneath the parapet runs the horizontal cornice band, slightly raised at the centre. On the roof is the copper dome, slightly bulbous, sitting on an octagonal drum. It has beautiful lotus finial, which was once gilted. The interior falls into nine divisions – a central tomb chamber. 19’2” square, four corner rooms, 10’31/2” each side, and four rectangular passages, each 24’ 81/2” by 10’ 81/2”.
There are four doorways to enter the tomb chamber, but three are closed with marble screen, and that on the south is fitted with sandal wood door leaf bearing a beautiful design of Chinese Cross. The walls of’ the tomb chamber are faced with white marble, which is panelled in black lines, and the floor is laid out in a small pattern of the same material. In the centre lies the marble cenotaph, formed of three steps. The faces of the steps are relieved with foliaged design, hut the cutting is shallow. Curiously the roof is built throughout in the old Hindu fashion of overlapping layers of stone, forming a simple straight-lined octagonal pyramid, which is crowned on the top with a copper dome, already mentioned.
The passage rooms are also faced with marble to a certain height, while the corner rooms had originally glazed tiles (now completely gone and replaced by white wash). Cunningham informs that the colours of the panels were dark-blue, orange, green, and purple on a yellow ground. These rooms are roofed in the same overlapping fashion. In the south-east corner room lies buried Shamshad Begam, some relative of Bibi Pari, while on the platform, to the south of the tomb, can be seen the graves of Sar Buland Khan, son of Haq Bande Khan, son of Khuda Bande Khan, who was son of Shaista Khan.
The idea of dividing the interior of a tomb into a number of rooms is, no doubt, derived from the system followed in the Tajmahal and the Mausoleum of Humayun, and probably the use of marble is also inspired from the same source. But the tomb of Bibi Pari, though a splendid achievement in Bengal, can hardly stand comparison with them. Lavish expenditure was incurred for the erection of this tomb, but there is little touch of grace in its architectural setting.