Facts to Know about Taj Mahal

Several legends, myths and beliefs have emerged due to the curiosity surrounding Taj Mahal. They have quenched the thirst of many and are further strengthened by the blocked rooms and passages. The secrets that lie within are closely guarded by the Government of India. A few of the most popular myths are that Taj Mahal is sinking, existence of a second Taj Mahal, the involvement of an Italian Architect during the construction of Taj Mahal and the third set of graves.

The story of the sinking Taj Mahal :

Within four years of Taj Mahal's completion several ruptures were found. This questioned the stability and strength of the dome built on a raised platform. Though the architects worked out every fine detail regarding the construction but the source of this abrupt damage is still unknown.

An Advisory Committee was set up in the year 1810 when cracks of dangerous proportions were discovered in Taj Mahal. During the restoration and conservation of the monument a survey was carried out with reference to these cracks and the possibility of the disaster was estimated. The northern plinth toward river Yamuna was measured lower than on the southern plinth by 3.5 cms. This meant that the monument was inclined towards the river. The underground vaults, the second storey vaults and the exterior of Taj Mahal were also ruptured in several places. It was estimated that the crushing of the underground vaults was due to the massive weight of the structure as well as the erosion of limestone given the time period. This was the reason for the gradual shifting of weight to disrupt the balance of Taj Mahal. The concentrated pressure and mass weakened the summits of the vaults and arches situated underground. Besides the corrosion of the stone the placement of the structure played a major role in the gradual motion towards the bank. It is natural for such a massive structure to ease out towards the open space on the bank of river Yamuna. As of now the gradual shift of the whole monument towards the river has been confirmed.

Another Taj Mahal :

Erstwhile emperor Shah Jahan's profound interest in architecture coupled with his grief for his beloved wife gave birth to another myth regarding the construction of another Taj Mahal. Accoring to Tavernier, a French merchant the emperor had commenced the construction of another Taj Mahal built in black marble on the opposite bank of river Yamuna. The purpose of this monument was to serve as Shah Jahan's own tomb. The white marble marvel and the supposed black masterpiece were to be connected via a bridge. But due to the Emperor's depleting health and the clash between his sons for becoming the heir of the throne began the monument was lost in time even before its base was setup. The wall adjoining Mehtab Burj built opposite Taj Mahal is assumed to be the remains of the Black Taj Mahal. And the abrupt positioning of Shah Jahan's cenotaph besides the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal is claimed to be an evidence of this myth. Then again explanations are aplenty to prove this theory wrong. The Islamic law that proposes that the husbands are always placed on the right hand side of their wives and the corpses should face towards Mecca indicates that the claims of irregular placement of Shah Jahan's cenotaph are preposterous.

The Fabled Italian Architect :

An Augustine Friar named Father Manrique visited Agra in 1640 to secure the release of the executioner Father Joseph de Castro. The latter had executed the Italian jeweler Geronimo Veroneo. The jeweler had entered India via the Persian route. Post his demise Father Manrique out of jealousy triggered off the controversy that Veroneo was the designer of the marble marvel. Manrique's main aim was to highlight the contribution of his country and the incorrectly claimed inaptness of Indian artisans.

The Grave Mystery of the Third Set of Graves :

The both extremes of the red stone plinth of Taj Mahal shroud two sunked doors. These doors are completely sealed to block the access to the basement corridors. This is very strange since the seventeen basement corridors alongside river Yamuna are explored with profound amusement. The sources of this amusement are the beautiful paintings that adorn these corridors. But the compelled prohibition strengthens the belief that a third set of graves exists in Taj Mahal. It is a custom that has also been identified in the tomb of Iltutmish at Delhi, the tomb of Akbar and the tombs Itmad-ud-Daula and Chinni-ka-Rauza at Agra. There are three tombstones, one on the grave and two as cenotaphs.

The existence of these graves has been shrouded in mystery due to inaccessible basement corridors and the prohibition imposed by the same in imploring the truth. Nevertheless the mystery is a major concern for both the tourists and the natives.

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