“There are only two types of people in this world, the one who have seen the Taj Mahal & others who haven’t.” – Bill Clinton.
Taj Mahal is a perfect blend of pure beauty & love. When American President Bill Clinton came to India to witness this magnificent white mausoleum, he was impressed by its utter beauty and thus expressed his feelings in the above lines. However, the Taj Mahal is a must-visit monument. The Taj had witnessed the eternal love story of Shah Jahan and his favourite beloved wife, Mumtaj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal, also the ‘Crown of the Palace‘, is a white marble mausoleum on the bank of the river Yamuna. It located in Agra.
The inspiration of the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal was constructed by Shah Jahan in 1631. Built-in the memory of his wife, Mumtaj Mahal. She died on 17 June 1631, while giving birth to her 14th child. After the death of his wife, Shah Jahan wanted to make a truly magnificent special monument that the world had never seen before. And this monument is purely dedicated to his love of life, Mumtaz Mahal. The emperor’s love story was the foundation of the Taj Mahal. It houses the tomb of his favourite wife & also the tomb of himself.
History of the construction of Taj Mahal
The construction was started in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Also, the tomb is constructed in a 17-hectare complex. It included a mosque and a guest house. Thus, the Taj Mahal complex was completed in 1653 at a cost estimated at that time to be around 32 million rupees. Today the cost would be approximately 70 billion rupees. Moreover, In the construction of the Taj Mahal complex, it took nearly 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri was the chief architect of the Taj Mahal.
The construction initiated in 1632 and the mausoleum was completed in 1648. Moreover, the surrounding buildings & garden were finished after five years. The material used in construction was brought from all over the world. There’s no evidence but It is believed that it took over 1000 elephants for the transportation of materials. Although, The efforts & hard work of 22,000 labourers, painters, embroidery artists and stonecutters, led to the creation of this mesmerizing monument. The white marble was brought from Makrana. Furthermore, The Jasper from Punjab. jade and crystal brought from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan. Around 28 types of stones were inlaid into the white marble.
Architectural Design Of The Taj Mahal
The structural design was from traditions of Indo-Islamic and Mughal architecture. Although, the inspiration for Taj came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings of the era. It includes the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur). The Charbagh gardens and hasht-behesht were inspired by Humayun’s Tomb. Also the Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb (Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan’s own Jama Masjid in Delhi.
In the Taj Mahal complex, the use of red sandstone and white marble holds symbolic significance. Back in Vishnudharmottara Purana, the use of white stone for buildings for the Brahmins castle is recommended. And the red stone is used for members of the Kshatriyas. Thus, Mughals combined both colours to showcase themselves as the leading power of India. Then again, the emperor, Shah Jahan demands the use of white translucent marble, inlaid with different precious stones. The Result was, It shines like a pearl in the daylight.
The symmetry of the Design
The Taj Mahal architecture design includes symmetry along two sides of a central axis, curved forms & Charbagh, tilt pillars, etc. Although, Its symbolism is varied. Thus, it can be the most beautiful, styled garden of paradise that could be found on Earth.
The uniformity in shapes of the domes, pillars had set in a particular sequence. One column, called the Shahjahani column is used in the entire complex. It has slightly varied pillars, moved out forward. It was constructed in the way only so that in future the pillars fall apart from the Taj in case of earthquakes. Proportions and details of the pillars were very concise to their position in the complex. It looks simplest in the bazaar streets & larger in the furnished area.
Beauty of Mausoleum
The interior of the Taj has a reverberation time of 28 seconds. It provided an atmosphere where the words of the Hafiz, as they prayed for the soul of Mumtaz, as she would alive in the air. This sound is also used to express ideas of paradise. Moreover, the Taj has varied in its beauty, it appears pinkish during the day, golden & shining during sunlight, and soft & calm at night.
The mausoleum is the chief building among the entire complex. And it has the most beautiful decorations. The mosque and the Guest House were meant for assembling prayers. Moreover, It has mirror symmetry and displays less naturalistic gardens in the buildings. The elements, the four-part garden, the four-part bazaar and caravanserai complex, and the miniature shar bags are arrange with the same mirror symmetry. Thus, the architecture expressed this concept through perfect proportional buildings and white marble which gives beauty to the geometrical designing the desired appearance.
Thus the entire Taj complex consisted of two components, each following a garden in front of the river, the Chahar bagh and terrace. The rectangle Jilaukhana corresponded to the riverfront terrace and the cross-axial bazaar and caravanserai element to the Chahar Bagh. The aim was to make the riverfront garden more attractive & beautiful. Also, enlarge it to a scale beyond the reach of people. The main north-south axis runs through the garden canal and the bazaar street.
Protection from Attacks
To protect the mausoleum from the attacks of the Japanese Air Force in 1942, the government scaffold around the building. Also, during the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 & 1971, scaffolding was again erected to mislead bomber pilots.
UNESCO World Heritage site
The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded as the best example of Mughal architecture. The Taj Mahal attracts around 7–8 million visitors every year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World.