Taj Mahal

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     YOU DESERVE TO VISIT   I The Taj! Once More! One knows that ‘The Taj’ is one amongst the World’s Wonders! One knows that it is one amon...

  
 
YOU DESERVE TO VISIT  IThe Taj! Once More!

One knows that ‘The Taj’ is one amongst the World’s Wonders!
One knows that it is one amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites!!
One knows The Taj as a legend of eternal love of an Emperor for his favourite Queen!!!

Well, ‘The Taj’ has distinctions much beyond just these!
Therefore, ‘The Taj’,surely, deserves your visit once and more!!!
Come, walk along the pathway beside the reflecting pool with fountains upto the mausoleum crafted in soft & pure marble and jewelled with semi precious stones, where in the serenity of paradise rests the Queen in peace with her King. Come to unfold the pages from the past to churn the charm out of its mystique and enrich your imagination about this marvel of an epic in stone, The Taj!
The grace of perfection of proportions and grandeur of geometrical patterns of well appointed gardens enhancing the poise of the whole complex together add magnificence to the delicacy of this mance of love, dedication and purity, ‘The Taj’! 

Come take a dip into the saga of ‘The Taj’, culled out from no fiction but facts and unfurl a saga, which is set out of nothing but pure love! 

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! Probably for Taj Mahal, the axiom is just the other way round.The Taj is the beauty personified! The Taj displays its different moods through its varied shades. The Taj has as many shades as any kind of beauty can ever have! The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening, golden when the moon shines and the intermediary variants during different hours of the day and during different seasons in a year.

Picturesque descriptions by the historians contemporary to the period of its making, the facts revealed by the scholars & archaeologists of today and the panoramic montage of the reasons behind its making are sketched with every step you would walk towards the mausoleum the next time you visit The Taj! 

A look this time at the Taj will keep you indulged with thoughts superimposing your sight and would make you feel the presence of Shah Jahan, the Maker and Mumtaz Mahal, the Reason, as though walking along with you. 

Whence its breathtaking splendour makes you wonder breathlessly and you tend to pause for a while but to continue staring at ‘The Taj’, you would sense them standing beside you! 

If one has a heart that beats and that beat throbs to seek, the purity of love in galore! Surely one deserves a visit to ‘The Taj’, as much as ‘The Taj’ deserves your visit once, and more!

Come to ‘The Taj’ with blissful pride! Bring the saga come alive!! Come; fall in love, every time!!!
   
Visiting Hours - Taj Mahal Sunrise to Sunset (Friday Closed) also Other Monuments-from sunrise to sunset
 
 
 
ENTRY FEE FOR VARIOUS MONUMENTS IN AGRA
MonumentsFor Indian TouristFor Foreign Tourist
A.S.I.A.D.A.TotalA.S.I.A.D.A.Total
 Rs.Rs.Rs.Rs.Rs.Rs.
Taj Mahal3010405005001000
Taj Museum, Taj MahalNilNilNilNilNilNil
Agra Fort30104050050550
Fatehpur Sikri30104050010510
Akbar's Tomb Sikandra1552020010210
Mariyam Tomb, Sikandra15Nil15200Nil200
Ram Bagh15Nil15200Nil200
Itmad-ud-Daula1552020010210
Mehtab Bag15Nil15200Nil200
       
 
  Note-
  1. Tourists are supposed to buy both the ASI and ADA tickets to visit the various monuments in Agra.
  2. For All the monuments ASI Charges Indian fee from the nationals of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries while no such provision has been made ADA tickets.
  3. No entry fee for children below the age of 15 years (both Indian and Foreigner).
  4. Taj Mahal is closed on every Friday.
  5. Agra Development Authority (A.D.A.) does not levy any toll tax on Friday at any monument.
  6. Ticket window & cloak room for Taj Eastern Gate are available at Shilpgram and Cloak room for Taj Western Gate is available at Taj Shopping Complex.


Emperor SHAH JAHANIThe Romantic

The Fifth Mughal Emperor: Shah Jahan [1592 – 1666]

Reign1628 – 1658
Full nameShahab-ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan, also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan
Born5 January 1592
BirthplaceLahore
Died22 January 1666 (aged 74)
Place of deathAgra
BuriedTaj Mahal
PredecessorJahangir
SuccessorAurangazeb
WivesAkbarabadi Mahal (d. 1677), Kandahari Mahal (b. 1594, m. 1609) Mumtaz Mahal (b. 1593, m. 1612, d. 1631), Hasina Begum Sahiba (m. 1617), Muti Begum Sahiba, Qudsia Begum Sahiba, Fatehpuri Mahal, Sahiba (d. after 1666), Sarhindi Begum Sahiba (d. after 1650), Shrimati Manbhavathi Baiji Lal,Sahiba (m. 1626)
OffspringJahanara Begum, Dara Shukoh, Shah Shuja, Roshanara Begum, Aurangzeb, Murad Baksh, Gauhara Begum [Many more died at birth or at an early age]
DynastyMughal
FatherJahangir
MotherPrincess Manmati
Religious beliefsIslam


Shahab Uddin Muhammad Shah Jahan I 
(full title: Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Abu'l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Shah Jahan I Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah [Firdaus-Ashiyani]) ruled India from 1628 until 1658.

From ‘Khurram’ to Shah Jahan: The blue-eyed of the Mughal Royals, the young ‘Khurram’ impressed his father the Emperor Jahangir with his intense military successes of 1617 against the Lodi in the Deccan, which effectively secured the southern border of the empire.The grateful father rewarded him with the prestigious title 'Shah Jahan Bahadur ', which implicitly sealed his inheritance. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian meaning "King of the World."

His early years saw him receive a cultured, broad education and distinguish himself in the martial arts and as a commander of his father's armies in numerous campaigns, where he became responsible for most of the territorial gains of his father's reign. Khurrum also demonstrated a precocious talent for building, impressing his father at the age of 16 when he built his own quarters within Babur's Kabul fort and redesigned several buildings within Agra fort.
He was the fifth Mughal ruler after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. While young, he was a favourite of Akbar. Like Akbar, he was eager to expand his empire. Even while very young, he could be pointed out to be the successor to the Mughal throne after the death of Jahangir. He succeeded to the throne upon his father's death in 1627. He is considered to be one of the greatest Mughals and his reign has been called the Golden Age of Mughals.

Shah Jahan erected many splendid monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra. The Pearl Mosque at Agra, the palace and great mosque at Delhi. The celebrated Peacock Throne, said to be worth millions of dollars by modern estimates. He was the founder of Shahjahanabad, now known as 'Old Delhi'. Other creations of Shah Jahan also include the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas within the Red Fort in Delhi.





Emperor SHAH JAHANIThe Romantic

The Fifth Mughal Emperor: Shah Jahan [1592 – 1666]
As a young man, he was married to two wives known as Akbarabadi Mahal (d.1677 AD), and Kandahari Mahal (m.1609 AD). Beforehand however, in 1607 AD, Khurram had been betrothed to Arjumand Bano Begum, the grand daughter of a Persian noble, who was just 14 years old at
the time. She would become the unquestioned love of his life and they were married in 1612 AD.

According to the official court chronicler Qazwini, the relationship with his other wives "had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favour which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence [Mumtaz] exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other”.
Shah Jahan was utterly devoted to Mumtaz Mahal, who was his constant companion and trusted confidante and their relationship was intense. Indeed, the court historians go to unheard of lengths to document the intimate and erotic relationship the couple enjoyed.
Sheela Reddy in her Taj Trivia termed Shah Jahan as ‘The Man of Marble’. Quoting the Austrian art historian Ebba Koch and her book, “The Complete Taj Mahal”, she says that Shah Jahan picked the site for Taj for its great view from Raja Jai Singh of Amber, in exchange for four mansions.
His own burial was not grand; he was taken quietly by two men by boat and laid beside Mumtaz.
The Rule
Although his father's rule was generally peaceful, the empire was experiencing challenges by the end of his reign. Shah Jahan reversed this trend by putting down a Islamic rebellion in Ahmednagar, repulsing the Portuguese in Bengal, capturing the Rajput kingdoms of Baglana and Bundelkhand to the west and the northwest beyond the Khyber Pass. Under his rule, the state became a huge military machine and the nobles and their contingents multiplied almost fourfold,as did the demands for more revenue from the peasantry. It was however a period of general stability — the administration was centralised and court affairs systematised. Historiography and the arts increasingly became instruments of propaganda, where beautiful artworks or poetry expressed specific state ideologies which held that central power and hierarchical order would create balance and harmony.
The Wealth
Under Shah Jahan the Mughal Empire attained its highest union of strength with agnificence.
The land revenue of the Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan was 20.75 million sterling. The magnificence of Shah Jahan’s court was the wonder of European travellers. His Peacock Throne, with its trail blazing in the shifting natural colors of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, was valued by the jeweller Tavernier at 6.50 million sterling.




  
Emperess MUMTAZ MAHALIExotic Beauty


The Mughal Empress: Mumtaz Mahal [1593 AD – 1631 AD]

Reign1628 – 1658
Full nameArjumand Banu Begum
BornApril, 1593
BirthplaceAgra
Died17 June 1631
Place of deathBurhanpur
BuriedTaj Mahal
Consort toShah jahan
Offspring
  1. Shahzadi Hluralnissa Begum (1613 - 1616).
  2. Shahzadi (Imperial Princess) Jahanara Begum ) (1614 - 1681).
  3. Shahzada (Imperial Prince) Dara Shikoh (1615 - 1659).
  4. Shahzada Mohammed Sultan Shah Shuja Bahadur(1616 - 1660).
  5. Shahzadi Roshanara Begum (1617 - 1671).
  6. Badshah Mohinnudin Mohammed Aurangzeb (1618 - 1707).
  7. Shahzada Sultan Ummid Baksh (1619 -1622).
  8. Shahzadi Surayya Banu Begum (1621 - 1628).
  9. Shahzada Sultan Murad Baksh (1624 - 1661).
  10. Shahzada Sultan Luftallah (1626 - 1628).
  11. Shahzada Sultan Daulat Afza (1628 - ?).
  12. Shahzadi Husnara Begum (1630 - ?).
  13. Shahzadi Gauhara Begum (1631 - 1707).
    Children, who unfortunately could not live for long
DynastyMughal
FatherAbdul Hasan Asaf Khan, a Persian noble.
Religious beliefsShi'a Islam

Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly known as Mumtāz Mahal (April, 1593 - 17 June 1631) meaning "beloved ornament of the palace" was an Empress of India during the Mughal Dynasty. Her father was the brother of Empress Nur Jehan (who subsequently became the wife of the emperor Jahangir). She was religiously a Shi'a Muslim.

Betrothed to Prince Khurram in 1607 AD at the age of 14 years, she was married five years later on 10 May 1612, a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage to Prince Khurram, who later ascended the Peacock Throne of India as the fifth Mughal Emperor and populary known as Shah Jahan I. She was his third wife, and became his favorite.

After their wedding celebrations, Khurram "finding her in appearance and character elect among all the women of the time", gave her the title 'Mumtaz Mahal' Begum (Chosen One of the Palace). The intervening years had seen Khurrum take two other wives.

Mumtaz Mahal had a very deep and loving marriage with Shah Jahan. Even during her lifetime, poets would extol her beauty, gracefulness and compassion. Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan's trusted companion, travelling with him all over the Mughal Empire.
His trust in her was so great that he even gave her his imperial seal, the Muhr Uzah. Mumtaz was portrayed as the perfect wife with no aspirations to political power .

She also enjoyed watching elephant and combat fights performed for the court. It was quite common for women of noble birth to commission architecture in the Mughal Empire. Mumtaz devoted some time to a riverside garden in Agra and it may have been her affection for this garden that prompted the eventual form of her monument.




  
Emperess MUMTAZ MAHALIExotic Beauty


The Mughal Empress: Mumtaz Mahal [1593 AD – 1631 AD]

Despite her frequent pregnancies, Mumtaz traveled with Shah Jahan's entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns. She was his constant companion and trusted confidant and their relationship was intense.


She died in Burhanpur [1631 AD] in the Deccan (now in Madhya Pradesh) during the birth of their thirtheenth child, a daughter named Gauhara Begum. She had been accompanying her husband whilst he was fighting a campaign in the Deccan Plateau. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. Her original grave still lies here.

Burhanpur was never intended by her husband as his wife's final resting spot. As a result her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja and the head lady in waiting of the deceased Empress back to Agra. There it was interred in a small building on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Shah Jahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to conclude the military campaign that had originally bought him to the region. While there he began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife, a task that would take more than 22 years to complete, the Taj Mahal.

Today, the Taj Mahal stands as the ultimate monument to love and homage to her beauty and life.

The contemporary court chroniclers paid an unusual amount of attention to Mumtaz Mahal's death and Shah Jahan's grief at her demise. In the immediate aftermath of his bereavement, the Emperor was reportedly inconsolable.
Apparently after her death, Shah Jahan went into secluded mourning for a year. When he appeared again, his hair had turned white. His back was bent, and his face worn. Since Mumtaz had died on Wednesday, all entertainments were banned on that day. Jahan gave up listening to music, wearing jewellery or rich and colourful clothes and using perfumes for two years. Jahan's eldest daughter, the devoted Jahanara Begum, gradually brought him out of grief and took the place of Mumtaz at court.

The Queen Mumtaz Mahal’s personal fortune valued at 10,000,000 rupees was divided by Shah Jahan between Jahanara Begum, who received half and the rest of her surviving children.

Immediately after the burial in Burhanpur, Jahan and the imperial court devoted themselves to the planning and design of the mausoleum and funery garden in Agra, now known as the Taj Mahal or fondly, The Taj!



‘The Taj!’ WONDERIThe Making of ‘The Taj’

The Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures with the white domed marble mausoleum being its most significant component. Entrusted to a board-of-architects by the Emperor Shah Jahan, the construction of the Taj Complex began about 1631 AD. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 AD by employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen, whereas, the outlying buildings and gardens were finished five years later in 1653 AD.

The Taj, the ultimate expression of love speaks volumes of indulgence coming from an overflowing treasury and political security of that era and much more by way of the finesse in art and science of architecture. Herringbone inlays define the space between many of the adjoining elements. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings, and dark or black inlays on the whitemarbles. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting colour, creating geometric patterns of considerable complexity. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns. The inlay stones are of yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and levelled to the surface of the walls.

HINDU PRECEDENTS


The Indo-Islamic architecture had incorporated and reinterpreted many of the traditions, forms and symbolism of both the indigenous Hindu architecture with the predominant Islamic architecture ever since the era of the Delhi Sultantate (1192 AD - 1451AD).

During the Mughal Empire, the extent varied according to the prevailing political climate; scant with Babur, extensively with Akbar, but they ruled a land dominated by non-muslims and most buildings were built with Hindu craftsmen and labour under the direction of Muslim artists and architects. The vegetative tracery, inlay work and most obviously the lotus dome and finial of the Taj Mahal are all testament to this synthesis.

ARCHITECTS AND CRAFTSMEN


The exquisite and highly skilled Inlay work was developed by Mughal lapidarists from techniques taught to them by Italian craftsmen employed at court. The look of European herbals, books illustrating botanical species was adapted and refined in Mughal Inlay work.

History obscures precisely who designed the Taj Mahal. In the Islamic world at that time, the credit for a building design was usually given to its patron rather than its architects. From the evidence of contemporary sources, it is clear that a team of architects were responsible for the design and supervision of the works, but they are mentioned infrequently.

A labour force of about twenty thousand workers was recruited from across the Northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stone cutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit. Some of the builders involved in construction of Taj Mahal under the master supervision of the Emperor Shah Jahan himself are:

Ismail Afandi (a.ka. Ismail Khan) of the Ottoman EmpireDesigner of the main dome.
Ustad Isa and Isa Muhammad Effendi of PersiaCredited with a key role in the architectural design.
'Puru' from Benarus, PersiaMentioned as a Supervising Architect.
Qazim Khan, a native of LahoreCast the solid Gold Finial.
Chiranjilal, a lapidary from DelhiThe Chief Sculptor and Mosaicist
Amanat Khan from Shiraz, IranThe Chief Calligrapher

Besides the above, Muhammad Hanif, a supervisor of masons and Mir Abdul Karim with Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz handled finances and management of daily production.



The Taj! OVERVIEWITaj Grandstand View


"A white marble tomb built in 1631 - 48 in Agra, seat of the Mughal Empire, by Shah Jehan for his wife, Arjuman Banu Begum, the monument sums up many of the formal themes that have played through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to the Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India, with its thick walls, corbelled arches and heavy lintels, and to the Indo-Islamic styles, in which Hindu elements are combined with an eclecticassortment of motifs from Persian and Turkish sources."
______ Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p223

The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
The Taj! An awe-inspiring poetry in marble stands high and serene by the banks of the River Yamuna is an inspiring result of the application of architectural and scientific research.
The tomb laid out in rectangular shape can be approached through an immense gateway with huge arch and alcoves strewn on either side that stands tall and erect, as though guarding something precious. Three other smaller gateways follow the red sandstone towers topped with domes in white marble together make a pretty picture.

The Taj is an experience of its own kind, while on the one hand its magnanimity is so sublime, so on the other the exquisite inlay work and detailed craftsmanship together with the calligraphy is simply amazing. The combination simply leaves one absolutely mesmerized. The sheer splendour of the mausoleum is consummate, and the vastness is simply monumental.

The tomb is at the northern end with an expanse of greenery and fountains between it and the gateways. The ceiling is adorned with floral patterns and the décor of floors with geometric designs. The inner of the main structure is in lakhauri [a kind of earthen brick], which have been carefully covered with marble, whereas the adjoining structures are covered with red sandstone.

Majestic and sensuous, glistening brightly in the afternoon sun, the bulbous dome and minarets with a slight inward tilt, have all been inscribed meticulously with the Holy Verses bringingforth the arabesque ornamentation. The white marble from Makrana in Rajasthan has added its own natural beauty to this mausoleum that attracts tourists from all over the world.
As one goes around, the most breathtaking part remains the exquisite inlay work that looks up from every nook and corner of the façade. The blooms are worked out in immense detail and every dot and alphabet of the Holy Quran is neatly etched, cut and inlaid to perfection. The flowers, chiefly lilies mirror the Mughal love for gardens. One particular flower on the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal is said to have been inlaid with 35 different precious stones. Thecentral hall is surrounded by eight rooms that have a corridor running through them. The aura of serenity is all pervading, while translucent glass separates them to let-in the dim sunlight, making the interiors look solemn and intriguing. Indeed a masterpiece that none would ever be able to replicate including the orginal craftsmen, artisans and designers themselves.
While a visitor is still managing to grasp the symmetry of the structures set across the length and breadth of the complex, the Taj Mahal appears deep in the distance, indeed a spectacular sight to behold, forever!

However, it is the dome that leaves one gasping in awe. While the outer dome rises to 44.4 metres in height, the inner is 24.35 metres an architectural and technical feat. Ismail Afandi from Turkey, who also worked for the Ottomans is said to have been its designer. Marking an amalgam of Hindu and Islamic architecture are the typically Hindu Chhatris [An umbrella like structure] at the dome base from the corners. Shah Jahan has similarly left his individual imprint in several other aspects of the architecture as well.

The cenotaph over Shah Jahan’s tomb has an inkwell, while that of Mumtaz Mahal a slate over it, as it is said a man writes his desires on the woman’s heart. The epitaphs in addition to regular pronouncements about the individual have verses from the Holy Quran. The exquisite craftsmanship marks the marble lattice screens, which are elaborately worked out in oriental design enclose the cenotaphs. The tombs lie below the cenotaphs in a basement, undisturbed and in absolute quiet environs. What we do not see now are the bowls full of jewels on Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb, the Persian carpets on the floor and the silver doorways and overhanging chandeliers that once made up the inner décor.
Coming out of prevailing solemnity in the environ, one gets speechless with awe at the grandeur of the by gone era, enticing particularly the panels with lilies and tulips together with iris flowers that symbolise death. The Makrana marble will perhaps never again be handled; with so much grace and care and such elegance of balancing the ornamentation on it. The beauty and splendour of elegant craftsmanship that makes up the inlay work and calligraphy in fact, further accentuates the deathly calm of the mausoleum and in the quietude, it is the softly filtering rays of the sun through the lattice work on marble panels that strikes one as unusually ethereal in nature.

Outside one would have to crane one’s neck to look up at the apex of the dome, high and mighty agains the skyline. Secluded and singular in majesty, the structure stands clearly apart from everything around it. The balance of all the elements, the garden, the fountain and water channel and in the end the gateway, all look exquisitely managed to provide maximum harmony in terms of visual appeal. The sheer beauty of the outside of a monument marks the serenity within.
The Taj Mahal, for which not only the course of river Yamuna is said to have been diverted but as per interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Yamuna was incorporated into the garden design for the belief that its one of the rivers of Paradise.
The moods of the Taj vary from dawn to dusk. It looks milky white in the soft light that characterizes early morning, while the afternoon sun makes it glisten bright and dazzling in the overhead sunlight, almost looking like a jewel against the opaque blue of the skyline and then comes a moonlit Taj breaking into the night sky, majestic and simply beautiful in a sense that cannot be put into words. The sensuous appeal can never be more heightened as on a full moon night when it shines like a pearl making the visitor stand agape at the spectacle. The romanticism and sheer majesty of the structure is unbelievably true! No wonder if millions of people chose it amongst the World’s top wonders.
The romanticism and sheer majesty of the structure is unbelievably true! No wonder if millions of people chose it amongst the World’s top wonders.
The Taj COMPLEXIIn Perfect Harmony

Prelud Other ElementsIConceptsISymbolismIInterpretationIElements

The PrinciplesIThe SymmetryIThe CompositionIThe DesignIGround Layout Of The Taj Mahal complex


Taj Mahal is an ambassador of Shah Jahan's strong interest in building and artistic innovations. The new architectural style includes aspects that were to impinge much of subsequent Indian architecture. Symmetry along two sides of a central axis, new columnar styles, curvilinear forms, and symbolic decorations based on naturalistic plant motifs are all characteristics of the Shahjahan style that can be found in the Taj Mahal Complex.



PRELUDE


The mausoleum is entirely clad in white marble. Alluding to the stone's luminosity, the Mughal poets compared it to early dawn or to a cloud. Kalim wrote:
It is a [piece of] heaven of the colour of dawn's bright face, because from top to bottom and inside out it is of marble - Nay, not marble because of its translucent colour (av-u-rang) The eye can mistake it for a cloud.

Kanbo refers to “the illurruned tomb (rauza-i-munauwara) on who’s every stone slab from early morning until late evening the whiteness of the true dawn is reflected, causing the viewer to forget his desire to move towards the highest heaven”.



CONCEPTS


Under the reign of Shah Jahan the symbolic content of Mughal architecture reached its peak. Inspired by a verse by Bibadal Khan, the imperial goldsmith and poet, and in common with most Mughal funerial architecture, the Taj Mahal complex was conceived as a replica on earth of the house of Mumtaz in paradise.

This theme permeates the entire complex and informs the design and appearance of all its elements. A number of secondary principles were also used, of which hiearachy is the mostdominant. A deliberate interplay was established between the building's elements, its surface decoration, materials, geometric planning and its acoustics. This interplay extends from what can be seen with the senses, into religious, intellectual, mathematical and poetic ideas.



SYMBOLISM


In the Taj Mahal, the hierarchical use of red sandstone and white marble contributes manifold symbollic significance. The Mughals were elaborating on a concept which traced its roots to earlier Hindu practices, set out in the Vishnudharmottara Purana, which recommended white stone for buildings for the Brahmins (priestly caste) and red stone for members of the Kshatriyas (warrior caste). By building structures that employed such colour coding, the Mughals identified themselves with the two leading classes of Indian social structure and thus defined themselves as rulers in Indian terms. Red sandstone also had significance in the Persian origins of the Mughal Empire, where red was the exclusive colour of imperial tents.

Its symbolism is multifaceted, on the one hand evoking a more perfect, stylised and permanent garden of paradise than could be found growing in the earthly garden; on the other, an instrument of propaganda for Jahan's chroniclers who portrayed him as an 'erect cypress of the garden of the caliphate' and frequently used plant metaphors to praise his good governance, person, family and court. Plant metaphors also find a commonality with Hindu traditions where such symbols as the 'vase of plenty' (purna-ghata) can be found and were borrowed by the Mughal architects.

Sound was also used to express ideas of paradise. The interior of the mausoleum has a reverberation time (the time taken from when a noise is made until all of its echoes have died away) of 28 seconds providing an atmosphere where the words of the Hafiz, as they prayed for the soul of Mumtaz, would linger in the air.



INTERPRETATION

The building was also used to assert Jahani propaganda concerning the 'perfection' of the Mughal leadership. Wayne Begley put forward an interpretation in 1979 that exploits the Islamic idea that the 'Garden of paradise' is also the location of the 'throne of god' on the day of judgement. In his reading the Taj Mahal is seen as a monument where Shah Jahan has appropriated the authority of the 'throne of god' symbolism for the glorification of his own reign. Koch disagrees, finding this an overly elaborate explanation and pointing out that the 'Throne' sura from the Qu'ran (sura2 verse 255) is missing from the calligraphic inscriptions.

This period of Mughal architecture best exemplifies the maturity of a style that had synthesised Islamic architecture with its indigenous counterparts. By the time the Mughals built the Taj, though proud of their Persian and Timurid roots, they had come to see themselves as Indian. Copplestone writes "Although it is certainly a native Indian production, its architectural success rests on its fundamentally Persian sense of intelligible and undisturbed proportions, applied to clean, and uncomplicated surfaces."


ELEMENTS

Uniformity of shapes has been set in a particular hierarchical accent. One type of column, called the Shahjahani column is used in the entire complex. It has a multi-faceted shaft, a capital builtup from miniature arches, concave elements and a base with four multi-cusped arched panels.Proportions and details of the columns vary according to their position in the complex; simplest in the bazaar streets, larger and richer in the funerary area.

The chief building of the entire complex is the mausoleum and the most naturalistic decoration appears here. The flanking buildings; the mosque and mihman khana [Guest House meant only for assembling for prayers] share mirror symmetry and display less naturalistic and less refined ornament; in the garden buildings, it is used only sparingly; and none appears in the Jilaukhana or the bazaar and caravanserai complex. The elements of the subsidiary units are arranged with the same mirror symmetry. Integrated into the overall qarina symmetry is centrally planned elements; the four-part garden, the four-part bazaar and caravanserai complex, and the miniature chahar baghs of the inner subsidiary tombs. The mausoleum and the great gate have centralized plans. Each element plays an indispensable part in the whole, if even one of the parts was missing; the balance of the entire composition would be destroyed.



THE PRINCIPLES


Principles of Shahjahani Architecture and as they are expressed in the Taj Mahal:

The complex of the Taj Mahal explores the potential of the riverfront garden as both an ideal funerary and a utilitarian worldly construct; it also expresses in canonical form the architectural
principles of the period.
  1. Rational and strict geometry.
  2. Perfect symmetrical planning with an emphasis on bilateral symmetry (qarina) along a central axis of the main features. In a typical Shahjahani qarina scheme two symmetrical features flank a dominant central feature.
  3. A hierarchical grading of materials, forms and colours.
  4. Triadic divisions bound together in proportional formulas. These determine the shape of plans, elevations and architectural Ornament.
  5. Uniformity of shapes, ordered by hierarchical accents.
  6. Sensuous attention to detail.
  7. A selective use of naturalism.
  8. Symbolism.

These principles govern the entire architecture of Shah Jahan. They are expressed most grandly and most consistently in the Taj Mahal.


THE SYMMETRY

The architecture was to express this concept through perfect symmetry, harmonious proportional relationships, and the translucent white marble facing which gives the purity of the geometrical and rational planning the desired unworldly appearance. The mausoleum is raised over an enriched version of the nine-fold plan favoured by the Mughals for tombs and garden pavilions.

A variant is used in the great gate. In the mausoleum the plan is expressed in perfect cross-axial symmetry, so that the building is focused on the central tomb chamber. And the inner organization is reflected on the facades, which present a perfectly balanced composition when seen from the extensions of the axes which generate the plan.

Bilateral symmetry dominated by a central accent has generally been recognized as an ordering principle of the architecture of rulers aiming at absolute power, as an expression of the ruling force which brings about balance and harmony, 'a striking symbol of the stratification of aristocratic society under centralized authority'. A symmetric grading down to the minutest ornamental detail, particularly striking is die-hierarchical use of colour. The only building in the whole complex entirely raced with white marble is the mausoleum. This hierarchic use of white marble and red sandstone is typical of imperial Mughal architecture



THE COMPOSITION


Thus the entire Taj complex consisted of two components, each following the riverfront garden design; the chahar bagh and terrace; a true riverfront garden and a landlocked variant in the configuration of the two subsidiary units, where the rectangle Jilaukhana corresponded to the riverfront terrace, and the cross-axial bazaar and caravanserai element to the chahar bagh. That lost complex was an integral part of the Taj Mahal, forming its counter-image, according to the basic Shahjahani architectural principle of symmetrical correspondence.


THE DESIGN


The historians and poets of Shah Jahan state that the Taj Mahal was to represent an earthly replica of the house of Mumtaz Mahal in the gardens of Paradise. This must not be dismissed as Shahjahani court rhetoric: it truly expresses the programme of the mausoleum. In order to realize the idea of the hatological garden house as closely as possible, the canonical out of previous imperial mausoleums, where the building stood at the centre of a cross-axially planned garden or chahar bagh, is abandoned, and the riverfront design that had become the prevailing residential garden type of Agra was chosen instead, and raised to a monumental scale.

The interaction between residential and funerary genres had characterized Mughal architecture from the beginning. In the Taj Mahal the aim was to perfect the riverfront garden and enlarge it to a scale beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, to create here on earth and in the Mughal city paradisiacal garden palace for the deceased.


Ground Layout of The Taj Mahal Complex

The main north-south axis runs through the garden canal and the bazaar street. On it are set the
dominant features: the mausoleum, the pool, the great gate, the Jilaukhana, the southern gate of
the Jilaukhana, and the chauk (square) of the bazaar and caravanserai complex.










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Jama Masjid: Taj Mahal
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