History of Taj Mahal
Shah Jahan, the great Mogul Emperor in central India commissioned in 1632 to built a mausoleum in the memory of his beloved wife, Arjumarid Bano Begum or popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to her fourteenth child. In order to fulfill the last wish of his wife “to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before,” the emperor Shah Jahan who erected several magnificent structures during his reign ordered the construction of a fairy tale like marvel that canvassed the southern bank of Yamuna River connecting to his royal palace at Agra.
The Emperor Shah Jahan employed skilled craftsmen to build an architectural marvel that bespeaks the illustrious testimony of infinite love etched out against the test of time. So there were sculptors from Bukhara, inlayers from southern India, calligraphers from Persia and Syria, a specialist for creating turrets, including those who designed only marble flowers. In fact, Shah Jahan himself personally supervised the construction of Taj Mahal. Muhammad Hanif was hired as the supervisor of masons and Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz with Mir Abdul Karim looked after finance and daily production.
Therefore, it goes without saying that this phenomenal white beauty stands as one of the outstanding paradigm of Mughal architecture that adroitly combined Indian, Islamic and Persian influences. The monument is an epitome of love and immaculate beauty, which is inlaid with semi-precious stones, such as crystal, jade, turquoise, amethyst, laps lazuli and others to create intricate pattern work using a technique called pietra dura. Its central dome was built 240 feet high circumscribed by four tall towers and smaller domes erected at the corners. The mausoleum houses a false tomb or cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal, but that which contained her remains – the actual sarcophagus is buried deep inside, at garden level. The rest of the mausoleum comprises a central gateway of red sandstone as well as a red sandstone mosque, a square garden divided by large pools of water and a building known as jawab or ‘’mirror’’.
Shah Jahan also intended to build another great mausoleum at the bank of the Yamuna River so that his remains could be buried there, but his plan was thwarted when Aurangzeb, his third son took over the reign and put him under house arrest. He eventually died in 1666 and was cremated next to Mumtaz Mahal.
After Shah Jahan’s demise, the Taj Mahal suffered great neglect and became unkempt, but in the 19th century, the then India’s British Viceroy – Lord Curzon undertook a major restoration of the monument to conserve the artistic and cultural legacy of India. Visit one of the seven wonders of the world Taj Mahal at least once to get enthralled by such powerful emotions of love and sacrifice that this scintillating monument evokes.
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