Taj Mahal

„A lonely tear, „frozen“ on the cheek of time”. Taj Mahal – the most famous Indian monument, built in order to make immortal the love of the Mogolian ruler Shah Jahan towards his wife. Taj Mahal is one mind-blowing and а uniquely beautiful building, compared by the critics as a materialized fairy-tale from “1001 nights”.

Taj Mahal

Source: By David Castor (user:dcastor). Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia

But let us start from the beginning. Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, located in the Indian city of Agra. And the greatest critic would not deny the fact, that this is the most brilliant preserved sample of the Mogolian architecture, in which the characteristic features for Islamic, Indian and Persian styles of the architecture are combined exceptionally skillfully. As well as maybe nobody would surprise, that the mausoleum is included in the List of the world heritage of UNESCO, as this happened in 1983.

The building of Taj Mahal took very long time – from 1632 until 1652. In its construction put their efforts around twenty thousand craftsmen and workers from India, Persia, the Ottoman empire and Europe. Thanks to them this great miracle Taj Mahal was born, which turned into a genuine triumph of the Indian culture. Taj Mahal is extended over area of approximately 17 hectares and costs around 32 million rupees. Seen from nearby, Taj Mahal reveals the whole put into attention during its building. In its marble glow around 28 semiprecious and precious stones from all over the world – blue stone from Tibet, emeralds from Sri Lanka, crystals from China and so on.

Before we embark on a story about Taj Mahal, let us first reveal the legend for Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Notwithstanding, that the first sods are turned in 1631, in fact everything started in 1607. During this time in city of Agra was carried out the Meena Royal Bazaar – a private market, which was an inseparable part of the harem of the emperor. The Meena bazaar was a remarkable event for the gentlewomen. On this bazaar the ladies used to sell their belongings or bought different things, which are necessary to them for their daily dressing. The walls of Meena bazaar were impregnable for men, since if any man was caught he could await cutting of the arms and legs. Actually, the bazaar became accessible twice a month, as in these days Meena turned into a zone of the love.

The eyes of two young persons met exactly in these days in 1607 at the market. The 15 year old Arjumand Banu Begum – a daughter of the prime minister, and the charming prince Huram – the oldest son of the emperor. Prince Huram remained speechless before the beauty of the lass and he felt that his life acquired another meaning. He gathered his whole courage, and stood upright with an audacious request towards his father – he insisted for a genuine marriage, concluded by love. Surprisingly, but Nur Jahan gave his blessing this to happen.

And thus came the date 27 March 1612, which the astrologist specified as most appropriate and the prince married Arjumand Banu. As a token of his respect and love towards her, he gave her the name “the sweetheart of the palace”. By the conclusion of this marriage two bodies and two souls have merged in one. Thus the two beloved became inseparable. It was reached even to this that Mumtaz Mahal turned into his most trusted person as per the political issues.

There came the time price Huram to ascend on the imperial throne. The imperial family enjoyed a happy family life and endless happiness. Mumtaz gave birth to the emperor 14 children, out of whom only seven survived.

Taj Mahal Mosque Interior Hall

Source: By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

During 1630 Mumtaz was carrying a baby in her womb again from the ruler, but this did not impede her as usually to be closely to her husband in his war with Han Jahanb Lobi. During the late spring of the year while Shah Jahan organized the march against Jahanb Lobi, arrived the lovely piece of news for the birth of his 14-th child. Nobody mentioned anything about his wife and this worried a lot the emperor. At nightfall came a message that the queen is well, but she did not want to be disturbed. Several hours later came the bad news. Shah Jahan directed towards the harem, but unfortunately he could not do anything about Mumtaz Mahal’s life. In the last minutes of life she wanted from Shah Jahan to fulfil her last will – another woman not to give birth to an heir to him and to build the most impressive mausoleum over her grave. The legend says that Han Jahan kept his promise, which he gave to his sweetheart.

Crushed by the grievous loss, Shah Jahan yet found strength and after a two-year mourning he put the beginning of the building of Taj Mahal in year 1633. He selected exceptionally carefully the place for the construction. He chose city of Agra, where the closest to the imperial palace stood out a peaceful garden along the bank of the river.

Thus the beginning was put. In this project for a chief architect was selected Isa, who worked jointly with a group of famous architects, among which stood out Abdelkarim Mamur Han, Makramat Han and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Taj Mahal was finished after twenty one years of labour. The purpose was achieved – there was born a genuine symbol, embodying the pure love of the emperor towards his sweetheart.

It is a true delusion that Taj Mahal is just the central building with its famous white cupola. Actually, this a facility, representing a much bigger complex of functionally connected buildings. Taj Mahal complex is long 580 m and wide 300 m, as in the enclosed by a high wall space besides the mausoleum and the mosque, are situated stables and inns for prominent guests.

Taj Mahal view

Source: By Suraj rajiv – Own work, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia

Let us take a long and thorough walk through the architecture of the monument. The marble of Taj Mahal is blinding white during the day, it flares red at sunset and dies away blue at moonlight. Unbelievable beauty and a feast for the eyes. Its four almost alike sides, the giant central cupola– „the tear”, the four smaller cupolas and the four high minarets form perfect harmony.

Starting our tour from the mausoleum, we should notice that it is a square in its base, as there are standing out roundings at the corners. Each one of the sides is long 56.6 meters. In its architecture are weaved into a big central arch in the middle and smaller arches at its two sides. Isa put one small cupola at each corner, around which to become remarkable the central cupola, high 70 meters. The central cupola is compared to an enormous pearl. The words for the facade of the mausoleum are not enough again.

As every element of the monument Taj Mahal and the 30-meter gate of the complex is built with a deep intention. The gate was finished in 1684. The today door of the gate of Taj Mahal is not the original one, since a Hindu troops ran away with it during XVIII century. It was a door out of solid silver, on which were hammered in 1100 nails with heads of silver coins.

As we have said, Taj Mahal is not only the central white building, in front of which everyone stands up. In this enormous facility is located and Charbagh – the Garden. Its length and width are as per 300 meters. Its creation was with purpose to be embodied the Muslim heaven. The Koran says that four rivers flow in it – out of water, milk, wine and pure honey. Today the visitors, however, do not see the initial appearance of the garden. The original Charbagh was divided by water channels at 4 parts with 16 flower-beds in each part and with 400 different plants in each bed. In the garden stood out two basic species – cypresses, which are a symbol of death and fruit trees, which are a symbol of life. The water in the channels was home of many particoloured fish, the trees gave away their crowns to different birds.

Tombs in crypt

Source: By Donelson at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by quickiebites., CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

The Isa’s genius is imprinted also in the architecture of the tomb. It is built over a platform with dimensions 6.7 m and 95 m in a square. At the sides of the platform are built 4 minarets, high 41.6 m. The chief architect has shown once again why he is so great – the minarets are slightly bent outwards, in order to be avoided their falling over the tomb during an earthquake. On each tower was written one letter – R, H, M, N. Together these letters are read as ar-rahman – the Merciful, which is one of the 99 names of Allah.

The interior of the mausoleum is not less impressive than its exterior. The central hall is with awesome acoustics and with four octagonal halls sidelong, in which shah Jahan deemed to lay the members of the imperial family to rest. In the central hall of the mausoleum in fact are situated copies of the graves, since the tradition demands to be done a private and a public grave.

Categorically nobody thinks, that the building of Taj Mahal has been a cheap undertaking. All money, spent for the building of Taj Mahal is an enormous burden for the state treasury and have led to a serious financial crisis. At the beginning of XIX century the British general-governor planned to destroy Taj Mahal and to sell it in pieces. What saved the monument was the lack of potential buyers in England.

Taj Mahal attracts between 2 and 4 million visitors annually, including more than 200 000 from abroad. The tourists reach the building through a monumental portal out of red sandstone and are welcomed by the inscription „welcome to the believers in heaven”. The people, setting out towards Taj Mahal, initially see the beautifully reflected in the middle mausoleum and central cupola of the water reservoir. The impressive vision out of fine white marble seems as if it is floating in the open dome of heaven behind, which is one purposefully sought effect.

Taj Mahal is popular all around the world, but not everyone can realize her/his dream to visit it. This made it one director from Bangladesh his ambition to build a replica of the mausoleum in his own country. By his deed he allows everyone, who cannot afford a visit of Agra to admire for а while the beauties of Taj Mahal.

Most of the tourists choose to visit Taj Mahal in the cooler months of the year – for example October, November and February. The polluting traffic is not allowed in the proximity of the complex, therefore in front of the tourist remain the alternatives to reach it either on foot from the parking lot, or by an electric bus.