Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Taj Majal stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and symmetry of architectural elements.
Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.
The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.
In 1612, Arjumand Banu Begam, better known by her other name , Mumtaz Mahal was married to Shah Jehan (then Prince Khurram), the fifth mughal emperor.
She bore him fourteen children, and died in childbed in 1630 (only three years after his accession to the throne) in Burhanpur in the Deccan where she had come with him on a military campaign. Overwhelmed by grief, Shah Jehan was determined to perpetuate her memory for immortality and decided to erect his beloved wife the finest sepulcher ever - a monument of eternal love.
It was Shah Jehan's everlasting love for Mumtaz that led to the beginning of the Taj Mahal. After twenty-two laborious years, and the combined endeavor of over twenty thousand workmen and master craftsmen, the complex was finally finished in 1648 on the banks on the river Yamuna in Agra, the capital of mughal monarchs.