Taj Mahal of India - "the epitome of love", "a monument of immeasurable beauty".
The beauty of this magnificent monument is such that it is beyond the scope of
words. The thoughts that come into the mind while watching the Taj Mahal of Agra
is not just its phenomenal beauty, but the immense love which was the reason
behind its construction. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed
in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, with whom he fell in love at the
first sight. The very first sight of the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love and
romance leaves one mesmerized.
Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built
by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658), grandson of Akbar the great, in
the memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, entitled ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. Mumtaz
Mahal was a niece of empress Nur Jahan and grand-daughter of Mirza Ghias Beg
Itmad-ud-Daula, wazir of emperor Jahangir. She was born in 1593 and died in
1631, during the birth of her fourteenth child at Burhanpur. Her mortal remains
were temporarily buried in the Zainabad garden. Six months later, her body was
transferred to Agra to be finally enshrined in the crypt of the main tomb of the
Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is the mausoleum of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan.
The construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1631 and it took approximately
22 years to build it. An epitome of love, it made use of the services of 22,000
laborers and 1,000 elephants. It was built entirely out of white marble, which
was brought in from all over India and central Asia. After an expenditure of
approximately 32 million rupees (approx US $68000), Taj Mahal was finally
completed in the year 1653.
Taj - The Beauty & Architecture
The mausoleum is located on the right bank of the river
Yamuna at a point where it takes a sharp turn and flows eastwards. Originally,
the land where the Taj Mahal presently stands belonged to the Kachhwahas of
Ajmer (Rajasthan). The land was acquired from them in lieu of four havelis as is
testified by a court historian, Abdul Hamid Lahauri, in his work titled the
Badshah-Namah and the firmans (royal decrees). For construction, a network of
wells was laid along the river line to support the huge mausoleum buildings.
Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders
and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from
Central Asia and Iran. While bricks for internal constructions were locally
prepared, white marble for external use in veneering work was obtained from
Makrana in Rajasthan. Semi-precious stones for inlay ornamentation were brought
from distant regions of India, Ceylon and Afghanistan. Red sandstone of
different tints was requisitioned from the neighbouring quarries of Sikri,
Dholpur, etc. It took 17 years for the monument complex to be completed in 1648.
The pure white marble structure, Taj acquires different shades at different
times of the day and with changing seasons. The soft pink color of the dawn and
fiery shade that it acquires at dusk are all bewitching. Though, the light that
presents it in the best possible manner is perhaps that of full moon, when it
shines with pristine white and silver glory. Taj seems to be as fanciful as the
love story it represents of an all-mighty prince and a simple girl hawking silk
and glass beads in the market and their marriage that seems so much like a fairy
tale. The faithful wife marched with the prince, who was later crowned the
emperor, on his every expedition and bore him fourteen children. On her
deathbed, she made the emperor to promise to make a lovely monument unlike any
other in the world as the tribute to their loving moments that were a treasure
for her. The emperor kept the promise faithfully and thus, Taj was conceived.