The breathtaking, ornate Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located near the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh State, Northern India.
When the weather is clear and the water is calm, the Taj Mahal creates a stunning reflection of itself in the water below. As one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal is one of the most refined examples of Indo-Islamic architecture with its white marble structure, dome-shaped roof, elaborate gardens, and calligraphy-covered walls.
The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan who was emperor from 1628-1658. He was both a military commander as well as someone who was the power behind many architecturally significant monuments. The Taj Mahal was built as a tomb for his wife of 19 years, Mumtaz Mahal, as a symbol of his never-ending love for her.
Mumtaz Mahal was born a Persian princess and was known to be a highly trusted advisor of her husband’s. Although she experienced 14 pregnancies, she still accompanied him on tours and even into war. She died in 1631 as a result of complications from childbirth while delivering their 14th child.
People and Elephant Power Team Up!
Many individuals were required to design and construct the Taj Mahal. It’s estimated that the architects had a team of 20,000 workers and artisans to work on the project which took approximately 20 years to build. It is also said that at least 1,000 elephants were employed with the task of transporting building materials throughout construction.
What’s Inside the Taj Mahal
In addition to its reason for existing as the grave for Mumtaz Mahal, it also is the final resting place of Shah Jahan himself. It is believed that he never envisioned being buried there, because the addition of his cenotaph creates the only point of asymmetry in the Taj Mahal. A cenotaph refers to a monument that is fashioned to honour the dead who are actually buried somewhere else. In this case, in a burial chamber beneath the Taj Mahal in a plain, marble room because Muslim tradition prohibits the extravagant decoration of graves.
When Entering the Taj Mahal – What Might You See?
You enter the main chamber through a beautiful archway inlayed with colourful rock and perforated stone on the south side of the Taj Mahal. Every square inch is richly decorated or carved. Even the floors are surfaced with a geometric pattern of inlayed, four-pointed stars made from brick-in-lime mortar, red sandstone, marble, and other semi-precious stones.
The room is octagon in shape with walls that are approximately 25 meters high. Atop the walls lies the inner dome that is decorated in a sun theme. The two cenotaphs are surrounded by an octagon screen carved with a floral motif and made from large, single slabs of marble, allowing air and sunlight to flow in over the cenotaphs.
There is so much more for individuals to learn, see, and appreciate about Taj Mahal! If you’re ever lucky enough to go, we wish you an incredible journey!