The History of Taj Mahal


The mesmerizing beauty of Taj Mahal is sure to leave the spectators speechless but the facts and the history behind its conception is even more enticing. It is the epitome of love etched in marble in the memory of a beloved wife.

The marble marvel took 22 years to complete. Each and every aspect of it resonates the essence of Mumtaz Mahal. Built on the banks of river Yamuna it is also the burial place for Emperor Shah Jahan and his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal.

A Splendid Love Story :

Prince Khuram met Arjumand Bano in Meena Bazaar and fell instantly in love with her. He proposed marriage and after courting her for five years he married her in 1612. After ascending the throne Prince Khuram was entitled as Shah Jahan and Arjumand Bano was entitled as Mumtaz Mahal.

The intensity and passion of their love was unparalelled and it extended to Mumtaz Mahal accompanying the Emperor on his conquests. But on her trip to Deccan Mumtaz Mahal breathed her last due to the childbirth of their fourteenth child on 17th June 1631. It is believed that she asked for four promises including the one that Shahjahan should build a monument of love dedicated to her. However a certain sect of people believes that there was no such conversation and the grief stricken Emperor himself decided to build the monument of love for his beloved wife. Though it is true that the Mughal court went into mourning for a span of more than two years.

Post her demise Mumtaz Mahal was temporarily buried in the Zainabadi garden in Burhanpur and within six months she was shifted to Agra. The plot acquired from Raja Man Singh on the riverside of Yamuna was chosen due to its location on a bend in the river. The construction of Taj Mahal would be visible from Shah Jahan’s personal palace in Agra Fort, which is further upstream.

The Four Promises :

Emperor Shahjahan's companion Mumtaz Mahal asked for four promises to the Emperor on her deathbed (on 17 June 1631) in Deccan where Emperor went to war with Khan Jahanb Lodi. The reason for her demise was the birth of their fourteenth child. The first and the foremost promise was that the emperor should build a monument dedicated to their love. The second promise was that he should marry again. The third promise was that he should be kind to their children. And the last one was that Shahjahan should visit the tomb on her death anniversary.

Symbol of Love :

Situated on the banks of the river Yamuna the aesthetic beauty of this mausoleum was inspired by the love of Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The monument is immemorial since post 350 years the lustre and passion of the affection of a man for his wife has not been lost even an ounce. It still encourages people to believe in the intensity of love on a global scale. The praise and glamourization of Taj Mahal has been abundantly done by many artisans and poets in their creations since its inception.

The name Taj Mahal means "crown plaza" and is believed to be an abbreviated version of Mumtaz Mahal’s name, which means ‘the exalted one of the palace’. The beautiful mausoleum harbours the cenotaph of the Mumtaz Mahal inlaid with beautiful jewels. And the workmanship is so exquisite that it has been described as “designed by giants and finished by jewelers”.

Conception to Construction :

For 22 years twenty thousand workers continuously toiled day and night to complete this masterpiece. The labourers used to inhabit a small town named after the deceased wife of the emperor known as ‘Mumatazabad’. Today it is known as Taj Ganj.

Numerous sculptors, masons, craftsmen, and calligraphers were brough from Persia, Ottoman Empire and Europe to adorn the Taj Mahal. Amanat Khan Shirazi, the calligrapher of Taj Mahal is mentioned at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the monument. Poet Ghyasuddin scripted the verses on the tombstone and Ismail Khan Afridi of Turkey built the dome. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of masons. The structure was designed by an Iranian architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. However rumour has it that an Italian architect coordinated the pietra dura architectural work.

The material for the construction was collated from all over India and central Asia. A fleet of 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 quarries of Makrana, Rajasthan supplied the white marble.

A total of 32 million rupees nearly left the Mughal treasury bankrupted. As they say beauty comes at a cost and this proved it. A horrible belief is that post the construction of this marble marvel Shahjahan had the hands of the artisans amputated with the fear that they might not construct another structure to rival the magnificent Taj Mahal.

Architecture :

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 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 in Delhi have also contributed majorly in the inspiration of the construction of the beautiful Taj Mahal.

One of the Seven Wonders of the World :

The city of Agra was put on the world map due to the declaration of Taj Mahal as one of the Seven Wonders of the World by UNESCO in 1983. A world heritage since 350 years its beauty is still unrivalled over the world.

The beauty and elegance of this monument is unparalleled and is a standard in itself.

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