4 Myths and Facts about The Taj Mahal
There are many myths and legends associated with the mystique of Taj Mahal. Numerous blocked passages and rooms have further given rise to various myths. The stock myths include:
- Taj Mahal is sinking.
- Existence of 2nd Taj Mahal.
- Involvement of an Italian during the construction of Taj Mahal.
- The third set of graves.
After four years of the construction of Taj, there appeared some cracks in the structure. There were certain doubts about the stability of dome built on the raised platform. The cause of the cracks is still unknown despite the architects working out all the fine details.
The government set up an expert committee on discovering the dangerous cracks in 1810. A survey was conducted of the monument to estimate the cause and extent of damage done to the structure. It was found that the plinth on the northern side of Yamuna River was found lower by 3.5 cm on the northern side. It was found inclined towards the river. The outer walls of Taj Mahal were found ruptured as well as the underground vaults and the 2nd storey vaults. The underground vaults were damaged due to the massive weight of the structure and deterioration of the limestone given the antiquity of the structure. It was the chief reason for shifting of weight which offset the balance of the Taj Mahal. The concentrated pressure and mass weakened the summits of the vaults and arches situated underground. The slow shift of the structure towards the river was due to the placement of the structure as well as the erosion of the limestone. It is but natural for such a massive structure to incline towards the open space on the bank of the river Yamuna. It is now confirmed that the entire structure is shifting towards the river.
The myth of another Taj Mahal arose due to the fascination of Emperor Shah Jahan for architecture as well as his grief over the death of his wife strengthened the myth of construction of another Taj Mahal. A French merchant, Traverier, mentioned about the construction of another Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the river Yamuna in black marble. This monument was meant for the tomb of the Emperor Shah Jahan himself. The white marble monument and the supposed black marble Taj Mahal were to be connected through a bridge spanning the river Yamuna. The work on the monument had to be stopped due to the ensuing war of succession between the sons of the Emperor Shah Jahan and his bad health. The wall abutting the Mehtab Burj built opposite the Taj Mahal is considered as the remains of the black Taj Mahal. The abrupt placement of the Shah Jahan' s cenotaph near the cenotaph of Mumtaj lends credence to the myth of the 2nd Taj Mahal. Again, there are numerous explanations to prove this theory wrong. As per the dictates of the Islamic law, the bodies of husbands are always placed on the right side of the wives and corpses must face the Mecca. So, the talk of irregular placement of Shah Jahan's cenotaph is absurd.
There is another myth of an Italian architect who is supposed to have designed the taj Mahal. An Augustan frier, Father Manrique, visirted Agra in 1660 to get Father Joseph de Castro released. The latter had killed the Italian jeweler Geronimo Veroneo. The jeweler had entered India via the Persian route. After his death, Father Manrique floated the rumour that Veroneo was the designer of the majestic Taj Mahal. His purpose was to highlight the contribution of his country while showing the Indian artists as not up to the job.
There are two hidden doors on both the two extremes of red stone plinth of Taj Mahal. These sunken doors are completely sealed off to block the access to the basement corridors. It seems strange in the light of seventeen corridors along side the yamuna which are explored with much amusement. Amazing paintings adorn these corridors. The blocked corridors strengthen the belief in the existence of third set of graves in the Taj Mahal. It was a customary practice as has been noticed in the tomb of Iltmish at Delhi, the tomb of Akbar as well as the tombs of Itmad-ud-Daulah and Chinni-Ka-Rauza at Agra. There are three tombstones, one on the grave and two as cenotaphs. The blocked access to the basement corridors has shrouded in mystery the existence of third set of graves. The prohibition makes it harder to know the truth.