Taj Mahal

Brief
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. 

History
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.