So, everyone should have heard of the Taj Mahal before. It is one of the most famous structures in the world and a must see for those lucky enough to have a chance to visit India. As our website pictures show, each of us has already been to visit the Taj Mahal before and, from my perspective, it really is an amazing place.
The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra in the province of Utter Pradesh, which is around 200 kms (or 125 miles) from Delhi. The Taj Mahal was built as a testament of love. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan, who, after a bitter power struggle with his brothers, crowned himself the emperor of Agra. He was 14 when he met Arjumand Banu Begum, a Persian princess, and they married five years later in 1612. When she married, her name became Mumtaz Mahal. She was the third, and the most loved of the emperors wives. It is said that she was an inseparable companion of Shah Jahan, until her death while giving birth to their fourteenth child on June 17th 1631.
The grieving Shah, who had already had some impressive structures built during his reign, then commissioned the building of a spectacular mausoleum for his wife. The build started around 1632 and took nearly the next two decades. The use of over 20,000 labourers and around 1,000 elephants were needed to complete the build. The mausoleum was built with white marble that was sourced from Rajasthan in Inida, as well as more than 40 types of gems from many locations including Tibet, Baghdad, and Turkestan. The white marble that was used takes on a different colour with the different times of the day; from a pinkish colour in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when lit by the moonlight.
The Taj Mahal is thought to be a high example of Mughal arcitecture, which combines Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles. Although at a distance it appears to be smooth, it is actually covered with intricate carvings and motifs. There are motifs of vegetative designs and other abstract patterns, as well as calligraphy from the Quran and Persian poetry.
The architectural design of the Taj Mahal has the four sides being perfectly identical, creating a mirror image on each side. The central dome reaches a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and is surrounded be four smaller domes. There are four towers in each corner. The rest of the complex has a main gateway made of red sandstone and a large garden, divided into quarters by long pools of water. There is also a red sandstone mosque to the side of the Taj Mahal, and with that there is a mirror image of this on the other side. According to traditional Mughal building practices, there are no allowances for any alterations to be made to the complex in the future.
It is also alleged that Shah Jahan had the intention to build a mirror image of the Taj Mahal, but in black marble. This was going to be located on the other side of the Yamuna river, connecting the two by a bridge to be used as his own tomb.
Whether or not this was his intention, Shah Jahan did not have the chance to do this. He was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb (his third son with Mumtaz Mahal) and lived out his days under house arrest in a tower at the red fort in Agra. From that tower he had a majestic view of the Taj Mahal. He died in 1666, and was buried next to his greatest love at the Taj Mahal.
An amazing story of love, that developed a stunning and lasting structure.