In the heart of the ancient city of Junagadh rises Mahabat Maqbara, one of the most intriguing structures I’ve ever encountered. The moment I saw the photo of it somewhere on the net, I felt an instant urge to see this architectural oddity with my own eyes. A wild fusion of different styles, it’s an impressive creation of one’s untamed imagination combined with superlative skills. Unfortunately, the architect’s name is unknown today, or at least I couldn’t find any information in spite of conducting an extensive research. It’s hardly fair, isn’t it?
But first things first. Inspired by promising photos in someone’s travelogue, there I was early in the morning, at the tiny railway station in Junagadh, waiting impatiently for the first rays of sun to light the streets. The Mahabat Maqbara is located beside a busy road within walking distance from the station. When I reached there, the monument was shyly hiding away in the shadows of the dawn, but with the morning sunlight quickly taking over the city, it didn’t take it long to reveal itself in full glory.
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The unique architectural style of the Mahabat Maqbara
The monument consists of two mausoleums housing the tomb of Nawab Mahabat Khan II, one of Junagath’s former rulers, and his administrator, Vazir Bahauddin Bhar. It was hard to decide which one was more beautiful – the first one, with its French windows, Gothic columns and myriads of domes, or the second one, with its fine stone carvings on the facade and winding staircases, encircling each of the four minarets from top to bottom. Built in 1982, the ostentatious mausoleums combine Gothic and Indo-Islamic architectural influences seen in many buildings constructed during the British rule.
Needless to say, this place is a photographer’s paradise – both the structures are extremely photogenic. I took my time walking around and testing the capabilities of my cheap little camera. It was particularly interesting to observe the monuments on different levels when climbing one of the minarets. On the top, I was rewarded with a gorgeous view over the Mahabat Maqbara’s many domes. Misty silhouettes of the distant mountains only added to the charm of the moment.
Mahabat Maqbara – desperate lack of upkeep
That said, I wouldn’t encourage you to climb all the way to the top – unfortunately, the monument is in the state of decay. The beautiful structure is on the verge of collapsing, and it desperately needs the upkeep. The surrounding area is used by local boys as a cricket playground, and stray dogs walk inside the mausoleum through the broken windows. Precious stone carvings fall off 🙁 It’s not one of the cases when lack of maintenance makes a place look more authentic – if the authorities keep neglecting the monument like this, in a few years’ time the Mahabat Maqbara will be nothing but a thing of the past.
Mahabat Magbara in photos
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