Taj Mahal: History and Information

The ravishing beauty of Taj Mahal is flawless but the story behind the conception of Taj Mahal is no less fascinating. It is poetry carved in stones in the fond memory of a beloved wife.

It took 22 years to complete the incomparable Taj Mahal. Every nook and cranny bespeaks the charms of an enigmatic and extra-ordinary woman, Mumtaz Mahal. It is built on the banks of Yamuna river where both Emperor Shah Jahan and his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal were buried.

The story begun when Prince Khuram saw Arjumand Bano in Meena Bazaar and love t first sight ensued. The prince courted her five years before her in 1612. On being crowned the Emperor of India, he was given the title Shah Jahan and Arjumand Begum was given the title, Mumtaj Mahal.

Their love was unique in intensity and passion. Shah had Mumtaj Mahal accompanying him on all his campaigns and conquests. Mumtaz Mahal died on a trip to Deccan while giving birth to their fourteenth child on 17th June 1631. It is said that she asked for four promises including that Shah Jahan should build an incomparable monument of love symbolizing their love. Many people are of the opinion that no such dialogue ensued between Mumtaj and Shah Jahan. The grief-stricken Emperor just decided to build a monument out of his love for his beloved wife. None the less, Mughal court went into mourning lasting more than two years.

After her death, Mumtaz Mahal was temporarily buried in the Zainabadi garden in Burhanpur. After six months, she was shifted to Agra. The plot was acquired from Raja Man Singh on the riverside of Yamuna for the construction of Taj Mahal. The construction would be visible from Shah Jahan’s personal palace in Agra Fort, which is further upstream the Yamuna river.

Mumtaz Mahal, Emperor Shahjahan's companion , asked for four promises from the Emperor on her deathbed (on 17 June 1631) in Deccan where Emperor had gone on a campaign. She died while giving birth to their 14th child. The first and most important promise was that the emperor should build a monument dedicated to their love. The second promise she asked for was that he should marry again. The third promise was that he should take care of their children. And the last one was that Shah Jahan should visit the monument of their love on her death anniversary.

The ethereal Taj Mahal is located on the banks of river Yamuna. The blinding beauty of this mausoleum was inspired by the love of Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The monument is 350 year-old yet it has lost none of its charm, luster and still represents the love Emperor had for his wife. The poets and artists has sung countless paeans on its beauty.

Taj Mahal means "crown plaza" and is said to be shortened form of Mumtaz Mahal, which means ‘the exalted one of the palace’. The beautiful mausoleum houses the cenotaph of the Mumtaz Mahal inlaid with beautiful jewels. The artistic execution of the of the monument was so immaculate that it has been said to be “designed by giants and finished by jewelers”.

Taj Mahal is the zenith of Mughal architecture. It took 22 years for twenty thousand workers who toiled day and night to carve out the masterpiece. The workers used to live in a town named after Emperor’s wife as Mumtajbad, now called as Taj Ganj. No effort was spared to create the flawless monument. The expert sculptors, masons, craftsmen, and calligraphers were imported from places like Europe, Persia and Ottoman Empire to embellish the Taj Mahal. The name of the calligrapher, Amanat Khan Shirazi, is mentioned at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the monument. Verses on the tombstone were scripted by Poet Ghyasuddin. Masons were superintended by Muhammad Hanif. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the Iranian architect, designed the structure. It is said that an Italian architect directed the pietra dura architectural work.

The construction material was sourced from all over India and central Asia. It is said that 1000 elephants transported the material to the site. It included Red Sand Stone brought from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and Crystal from china, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelian from Arabia and Diamonds from Panna. Twenty-eight kinds of rare, semi precious and precious stones were used for the inlay work. The white marble was supplied from quarries of Makaran, Rajasthan. Around 32 million rupees spent on the monument almost bankrupted the Mughal treausury. It is said that beauty comes at a cost and in this case it is true. There is another cruel myth that Shah Jahan had the hands of the artisans amputated lest they would construct another monument to rival the beauty of Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was built by fusing the elements of Hindu, Persian and Mughal architecture. The dome of the monument was inspired from the Humayun’s tomb and the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khanna, Delhi. The Gur-e Amir, Itmad-ud-Daula and Shah Jahan’s own Jama Masjid are some of the other notable monuments contributing to the beauty of the incomparable Taj Mahal.

A perfect blend of Hindu, Persian and Mughal architecture has been incorporated in the building of the monument. The dome of the structure was inspired by the Humayun’s

One of the Seven Wonders of the World:
Agra arrived on the world scene in 1983 when the UNESCO declared Taj Mahal as one of the seven wonders of the world. The 350 year old monument is still unsurpassed in its grandeur and beauty.