Story of Taj Mahal, India: Architecture, History at a Glance

Story of TajMahal, Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan, Construction Tales

Introduction 

One of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, is definitely a striking jewel in the crown of Indian architecture. The story behind its foundation is even more captivating. This picturesque white marble beauty is a center of attraction for tourists all over the world. From its construction back in the 17th century till the present, the Taj Mahal has turned heads. 

 Let us go through the entire journey of this timeless monument to date. This article will focus on the historical aspects pertaining to the Taj Mahal.

Basic Information

Who built the Taj MahalShahjahan, construction completed in 1653.
LocationDharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
Height73 mt.
Built1632-1653
Area17 hectares.
Built forMumtaz Mahal
Number of minarets presentFour
Chief ArchitectUstad Ahmed Lahauri
GPS27° 10’30.05″ North / 78° 2’31.76″ West
Governing BodyGovernment of India
Price for ticketsNo entry fees for children below the age of 15 years for Indians.
For foreign tourists- Rs 1100   ( ₹ 200 extra if visiting the main mausoleum)
For Domestic/Indian/OCI cardholders- ₹50 ( ₹ 200 extra if visiting the main mausoleum)
Opening DayMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.
Closing DayFriday
Why is it famous?Impeccable and exquisite marble structure. Encompasses the love saga of Shahjahan and Mutaz Mahal.UNESCO World Heritage site.
Websitewww.tajmahal.gov.in
When it became a UNESCO world heritage siteIn the year 1982.

The story behind the Taj Mahal

The monument with unparalleled grandeur is called ‘a teardrop on the cheek of time’. What has led it to be an eternal saga of love? Well, it sheds light on the strength of the bond between the fifth Mughal Emperor Shahjahan and his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal.

The queen died while giving birth to their 14th child on 17th June 1631. This took a toll on Shahjahan’s mental peace. But he did not forget the promises his most favorite queen took from him. The very first promise encompassed the foundation of the Taj Mahal. Yes, this is how the Taj Mahal or ‘Crown Palace’ got a concrete plinth on the surface of reality. The notion was to celebrate their eternal romance.

The masterpiece which represents the Mughal splendor stands on the bank of the river Yamuna. According to some sources, Shah Jahan viewed the Taj Mahal lying on the bed through a diamond fixed in the wall, for the eight years during his imprisonment. His sheer dedication to his wife was evident.  Apart from opulent marbles and precious jewels attached to them, their ‘love story’ certainly makes The Taj Mahal glow more.

Who was Mumtaz Mahal

Mumtaz Mahal is the byname of Arjumand Banu Begum. She was born in the year 1593. Her family had a high stature in the Mughal court. Her aunt Mehr-Al-Nesa married Shahjahan’s father Jahangir in the year 1611.

 Shahjahan Married her in the year 1612 on the date chosen by the royal astrologers. She bore their 14 children. The third son, Aurangzeb, was the last of the Great Mughals. After Shahjahan ascended the throne in the year 1628, Arjumand Banu got the title of ‘Mumtaz Mahal’.  

In 1631 Mumtaz Mahal accompanied the emperor on a military expedition in Deccan. She died in Burhanpur while delivering their 14th child, from hemorrhaging. Mumtaz was buried in Burhanpur for a short duration. Later, her body was buried in Agra in January 1632. The year 1632 also marked the inception of the Taj Mahal’s construction.

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The Architecture of Taj Mahal

tajmahal

Let us go through some of the striking features of  the spectacular Indo-Islamic monument, The Taj  Mahal:

  • The Taj Mahal is situated on the right bank of river Yamuna.
  • The area was a massive Mughal garden that covered a range of 17 hectares in the district of Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
  • The construction started in the year of 1632.
  • Ustad Ahmad Lahori was the chief architect of the monument.
  • The construction was a collective effort of more than 20,000 of  artisans.
  • These included masons, stone-cutters, painters,calligraphers,painters,dome builders who were invited from all over the empire.
  • It also included the artisans from Iran and central Asia too.
  • This archi-tectonic piece has a combination of solids, voids,concave,convex and light shadows. 
  • The relief work has marble and inlay contains precious and semi precious stones.
  • The horticulture planners did a tremendous job.
  • The tomb is placed at the one end of the quadripartite garden.
  • The tomb is present on a square platform with four sides of the octagonal base of the minarets.
  • The ground plan of Taj Mahal has the octagonal tomb chamber in the centre, portal halls and four corner rooms.
  • The same plan goes for the upper floor.
  • The exterior of the tomb is square.
  • A large double storied domed chamber shelters the cenotaphs of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan.
  • An octagonal marble lattice screen encircles cenotaphs.
  • The marble screen is decorated with inlay work.
  • The shades of the stones that make flowers and leaves make these appear almost real.
  • The upper cenotaphs are just symbolic.
  • The real graves lie in the lower tomb chamber.
  • The materials used are brick-in-lime mortar, red sandstones, marbles, precious and semi precious stones.
  • ‘Parchin Kari’ and ‘Jali’ work were used to enhance the decoration.
  • More than thirty types of precious stones and gemstones are used.
  • The construction was completed in the year 1648.
  • The mosque, the main gateway, the guest house, the courtyard were also constructed here. Their construction was completed in 1653. 
  • The finest architectural achievement showcases a whole range of Indo-Islamic sepulchral architecture.

Materials used from different sources:

BrickAgra
SandstoneNear Agra
White MarbleMakrana
JaspersPunjab
Jade and CrystalChina
TurquoiseTibet
Lapis LazuliAfghanistan
SapphireSri Lanka
CarnelianArabia

Construction Tales

TajMahal

Popular tales that float about the construction of the Taj Mahal:

  • One of them states that Shahjahan ordered the cutting of the hands of master artisans after this construction. However, historians don’t find relevant proof.
  • Another hearsay states that it was Tejo Mahalaya, a construction by some King earlier. But historical relevance is not clear about the claim.
  • As per local lore, Shahjahan wanted to construct a shadow image of the monument across Yamuna from the black marble.But, the construction could not happen.

Monuments nearby Taj Mahal

If we plan to visit this majestic beauty, it can be a wholesome tour too. There are a number of significant places that are nearby the Taj Location. Let us go through the details of some plausible tourist spots:

Agra Fort

Fort

Agra Fort is 2.5 km away from the Taj Mahal. This is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The fort has remarkable marble interiors teamed up with red sandstones. Agra Fort was the abode for all the Great Mughals. The fort has monuments such as Delhi Gate, Jahangir’s Hauz, Shish Mahal, and so on.

The tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah

tomb

It is approximately 25 minutes away from the marble beauty, the Taj Mahal. Itmad-Ud-Daulah was the father of queen Nur Jahan. Nur Jahan constructed it in his memory. The monument is called ‘ Baby Taj’, as it resembles the Taj Mahal.

Fatehpur Sikri

sikri

The ‘City of Victory’ was the capital of the Mughal Empire for 14 years. It consists of Hiran Minar, The Ibadat Khana, Jama Masjid, Birbal house, Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Buland Darwaza, Tomb of Salim Chisti, and so on.

Akbar’s Tomb

tomb

It is a calm and serene monument. It has beautiful interiors and a picturesque outer setting. It takes about 50 minutes of a road trip from the Taj Mahal to reach the tomb.

Destruction of Taj Mahal

  • The pristine beauty of the spectacular monument has suffered many adversities. During the revolt of 1857, the British army plundered it. They took away the precious stones from its walls. Carpets, silver doors, tapestries and so on were looted. By the end of the 19th century, the Taj Mahal was on the verge of losing its charm.
  • Over the years, the marble beauty has suffered from environmental damages too. Once the ivory-white mausoleum started turning yellow. Pollution and acid rain are the contributing factors in its poor health. Government Keeps taking initiatives for the conservation of this historical monument. Closing down industries near the Taj Mahal, prevention against the pollution, establishment of a green mass transit system in Agra, initiatives for the health of river Yamuna are taken.

Taj Mahal for tourists (Latest rules in Corona Pandemic):

The rules get regulated in accordance with the changing times. To preserve the serenity of this historical monument, numerous steps come into practice. Let us check what new rules are there:

  • Only 650 people are allowed at a time to ensure the Covid safety protocols.
  • The Taj Mahal to get sanitized three times a day.
  • Only online booking is allowed. No ticket counters are open on the premises.
  • People can book only five tickets from one phone.
  • All the visitors must wear masks.
  • Visitors should visit with their own water bottles and sanitizers.
  • Visitors should follow social distancing.
Don’tDos
Eating, smokingTourists must keep the premises clean.
Picture clicking in the main mausoleum.Tourists can hire guides who exhibit their identity cards.
Touching and scratching walls.Tourists must cooperate and follow the rules.
Use of drone cameras.Tourists must use pollution-free vehicles within the range of 500 mt.

How to reach the Taj Mahal:

The connectivity of the monument is feasible. We can take roadways, railways, and airways. Let us know how to reach the Taj premises.

Railways:

The nearest railway station to the monument is the Agra Fort railway station. It is at a distance of 3Km.

Airways: 

Agra has its own airport. Indian Airlines operates flights to Agra on a regular basis. 

Roadways:

We can hire a rickshaw puller from the bus stand to reach the Taj premise. We can take the Yamuna Expressway connecting Greater Noida with Agra.

Visiting hours for the Taj Mahal:

 Except for Fridays, the Taj Mahal is open for general visits. 

  • The Taj Mahal opens 30 minutes before the sunrise.
  • It closes 30 minutes before sunset.

Ticket outlets for the Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal Western GateIt is near Saheli Burj. We can take tickets from one hour before sunrise to 45 minutes before sunset.
Taj Mahal Eastern GateWe can take tickets from one hour before sunrise to 45 minutes before sunset.
Taj Mahal Southern GateEntry is not allowed from here. Only the exit is present.

FAQs:  

How much was invested for the Taj Mahal Construction?

32 million rupees ( as per that time)

What is the age of the Taj Mahal?

390 years

What are the buildings on the premises of the Taj Mahal?

Mehtab Bagh
Mausoleum
Mosque
Guest House

When did Mumtaz and Shah Jahan meet?

In the year 1607.

When was the first-ever picture of the Taj Mahal clicked?

It was clicked in 1858.

The monument of the Taj Mahal has seen many ups and downs. It has witnessed the unshaken love of an emperor for his consort to the atrocities of colonial times.  Today, it has turned into a remarkable tourist spot. A visit to the Taj Mahal appears as soothing as embracing some serene thoughts. The marble beauty has tremendously represented India on every international platform. Let us hope for its longevity so that the saga of love stays preserved.

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