Taj Mahal

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The Taj Mahal is the epitome of Mughal art and one of the most famous buildings in the world. Yet there have been few serious studies of it and no full analysis of its architecture and meaning. Ebba Koch, an important scholar, has been permitted to take measurements of the complex and has been working on the palaces and gardens of Shah Jahan for thirty years and on the Taj Mahal itself—the tomb of the emperor's wife, Mumtaz Mahal—for a decade.

The tomb is the representation of the house of the queen in Paradise, and its setting was based on the palace gardens of the great nobles that lined both sides of the river at Agra India. You will explore the entire complex of the Taj Mahal with an explanation of each building and an account of the mausoleum's urban setting, its design and construction, its symbolic meaning, and its history up to the present day.

Myths about TAJ MAHAL

Taj Mahal was built in 22 years (1631-1653) with the orders of Shah Jahan and it was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), the wife of Shah. 20.000 workers labored and 32 crore rupees were spent during the construction of the monument and it was built according to Islamic architecture. It is one of the Unesco world heritage site.

Taj Mahal was built in 22 years (1631-1653) with the orders of Shah Jahan and it was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), the wife of Shah. 20.000 workers labored and 32 crore rupees were spent during the construction of the monument and it was built according to Islamic architecture. It is one of the Unesco world heritage site.

Taj Mahal means the' Place of the Crown' because; Taj means "Crown" and Mahal means "place". There are several myths about Taj Mahal.

According to one of the myths, the construction is sinking and it is known that in spite of all the precautions, cracks were discovered in it just 4 years after its completion and that it was tilting towards the riverside.

According to another myth a number of items such as diamonds, a gold leaf which covered the part of the dome, a pearl blanket etc that were originally a part of the Taj were stolen.

It is also told that Shah Jahan got the hands of his sculptors and architects cut off so that they would never be able to build a monument as magnificent and beautiful as the Taj again and he even got their eyes pulled out so that they would never be able to witness anything bigger and more beautiful than the monument that they had built during their lifetime.

TajMahal History

In the year 1631 Shah Jahan, once a Muslim army commander, the Mogul Emperor in central India lost his beloved pregnant wife Mumtaz Mahal only a few minutes after giving birth to her fourteenth child, a daughter. The final request of his wife was for him not to marry again and prove their endless love by building a dreamlike beautiful mausoleum. The emperor mourned his dearest wife for two years, changing his wealthy appearance into pure and simple. It was told that his hair turned white in one night because of his deep sadness. As promised, Shan Jahan built the Taj Mahal, in Agra in northern India by the river of Jumna fulfilling the dream of his wife. The enormous Taj Mahal with a dome height of 240 feet which carries approximately twelve thousand tons was enriched with lovable gardens. The architectural style was a blend of Hindu and Muslim to this day it is not known who the architect was.


The paradise-like garden is the very impressing part of the complex. The square garden is divided into four parts with two main walkways. Each of these four parts is also divided into four with narrower walkways, therefore, creating sixteen squares. The canal including a line of fountains passes in-between the main walkway. It is lined with sandstone strips and geometrical stars and then followed by larger sandstone walkway with typical Mogul geometrical designs. The north-south walkway connects the great gate to the mausoleum while the two pavilions are connected through the east-west walkway.

The raised white marble platform at the centre of the walkways, namely "chabutra" includes a pool with five fountains. The four marble banks around the pool were added later with the order of Lord Curzon in 1907.

Gate of the Mausoleum" – Darwaza-i Rauza stands oblong on a platform on the southern wall as the passage between the Jilaukhana and the funerary garden. The façade from Jilaukhana proves its being the entrance and the beginning of the great mausoleum. The red sandstone structure is surrounded by octagonal towers namely minarets topped by white marble domes on the corners. The white marble is densely used in the arches of the centre while the thin margins around the rectangular panels of the corner towers are only lined. The top of the arches is ornamented with floral patterns. The main entrance is framed in rectangular with sura 89 of the Qur'an, namely al-Fajr (daybreak) inviting the believers into the Paradise. The Gate does not have an outer dome. The miniature eleven domes (cupolas) between the two high columns namely guldastas, framing the entrance from the base are the topping features above the entrance. The northern entrance from the funerary garden is ornamented with another sura of the Qur'an as the only difference. The calligrapher, Amanat Khan's signature is at the bottom left end of the frame dated Hijri 1057 (AD 1647/48). The central vault inside the gate is ornamented with stars and partial stars. The big bronze lamp was mad in the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore and was given as present by Lord Curzon in 1909. The side rooms are used for the administration by the Archaeological Survey of India. Both lower and the upper levels are not open to the visitors.

Iwan dar Iwan – the two arcaded galleries with massive multi-cusped arches and shahjahani columns with floral bases in the outer row are located on the south of the funerary garden where the poor people were welcomed by Shah Jahan in order to receive their alms in rainy season.

The east and the west gates are commonly used by the tourists rather than the gate on the south through the caravanserai and bazaar once situated. The east gate "Fatehabadi Darwaza" and the west gate "Fatehpuri Darwaza" are of red sandstone and both alike with the rectangular framed arch, outer facades topped with two pinnacles while the inner facades are more impressing with a central arch enriched with two tiers of niches. The difference between the inner and the outer sides reveals the fact of architectural hierarchy as the inner side's being closer to the mausoleum.

The longer south gate "Sirhi Darwaza" is also similar to the others. The gate is higher than the level of the forecourt due to the slope and, therefore, is reached with number of stairs. The outer part connects the Taj Ganj section also with stairs which are plus one-meter higher.

The two bazaar streets start from the gates on the west and the east to the Jilaukhana. The rows of small, sandstone non-connected rooms without windows open to an arcaded veranda. The Shahjahani styled columns of the arcades are topped with multi-cusped arches and finished with roof-like slabs. The streets were functioned as the shopping places for souvenirs until 1996.

The Jilaukhana, meaning "in front of the house", was a gathering point of the tomb visitors and a ceremonial place hosted the first death anniversary of Mumtaz Mahal.

The two gates on the north and south open to the large courtyard functioning necessarily as the dismounting place of the visitors. The 128 rooms surround the courtyard. The area was restored between the years 1900-1908 with the order of Lord Curzon. The two quarters of the tomb attendants namely "Khawasspuras" on the north and the two tomb complexes "Saheli Burj" on the south are located in the courtyard.

  • Khawasspuras were the residential place of the people looking after the tombs and the Qur'an memorisers. The south and the north wings are similarly constructed with continuous rooms completed by the long verandas like the ones in bazaar streets. After the restorations of Lord Curzon in 1900-1908, the western khawasspura was functioned as "Fatehpuri Gate Courtyard", while the eastern part "Gaushala" takes the name of "Fatehabad Gate Courtyard" and is used as cow stables until 2003.
    Today, both courtyards are functioning as the new Visitor Centre.
  • Shali Burj (the inner subsidiary tombs) is located on the south and includes the tombs of Shah Jahan's other wives. Meaning as the "tower of the female friend" the four imperial women's tombs include the tomb of Akrabarabadi Mahal located on the west, one of Shah Jahan's favourite consort in his last reign. She died in 1677. The one on the east is of "Sirhindi Mahal" and the other tombs are questionably belonging to Fatehpuri Mahal and Aberabadee Begum.

The red sandstone, single-storey octagonal tombs are surrounded by verandas that of each side include three multi-cusped arches stand on Shahjahani columns and are finished with white marble domes. Contrastingly to the mausoleum the domes were not decorated. The only difference between the two complexes is the decoration of the cenotaphs. The cenotaph of Akrabarabadi Mahal's was ornamented with floral decoration, emphasising her importance, unfortunately most of the stones were destroyed. The inner style of the tombs reveal the construction was along the last phase of the Taj Mahal

Riverfront Terrace

Being amongst the most impressing platforms ever built, the riverfront terrace is only 1.22 m above the level of the garden, while the height reaches to 8.7 m towards the river due to the slope. The terrace is the first structure built in Taj complex.

The red sandstone facades of the terrace are ornamented with the carvings of flower vases and palm trees framed with white marbles. The two doors by the riverfront near the towers, enabling direct access to Taj Mahal by boat are now closed. The terrace is geometrically covered with light and dark sandstone. The closer parts of the mausoleum are patterned with the combination of sandstone and marble geometrical designs.