The Taj Mahal, considered the symbol of eternal love, is a mausoleum in Agra, India. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631 at the birth of their 14th child.
The Taj Mahal was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and in 2001 it was included in the list of the New Seven Wonders Of The World by the Swiss New7Wonders Foundation. The Taj is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As the best masterpiece of Mughal architecture, Taj Mahal combines architectural styles from Persian architecture, and early Mughal, Islamic and Indian architecture.
The Taj’s architecture is unique in several ways, including a significant departure from the primary use of red sandstone used in early Mughal architecture to promote the use of white marble as the main construction material.
The decorative motifs used are flowers, fruits, vines, geometric forms, and for such work, inlay stones of yellow marble, jasper and jade were used on expansive surfaces. The remaining surfaces were inlaid in intricate details with semiprecious stones.
Starting construction in 1632, the Taj Mahal was completed in 1632, employing about 20,000 workers and skilled craftsmen who worked under a board of renowned architects of the times under the supervision of Emperor Shah Jahan himself. Specialist craftsmen and artists were brought in from many countries, such as calligraphers from Syria and Persia, sculptors from Bukhara, and stonecutters from Baluchistan.
The bodies of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan were interned in a simple crypt under the inner chamber. The base and caskets of the tomb are lavishly inlaid with precious germs, as well as semiprecious gems.
The Taj Mahal complex is set around an expansive Mughal garden. The garden originally had abundant flowering and ornamental garden cultivar including daffodils, roses, and several species of fruit trees. On the decline of the Mughal Empire, the garden was neglected. When the management of the Taj Mahal was taken over by the British Empire, they redesigned the landscaping on the model of the lawns of London.
For construction of the Taj Mahal, building materials were procured from all over India and several Asian countries: the translucent white marble from parts of India, sapphire from Sri Lanka, carnelian from Arabia, Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, jade and crystal from China and turquoise from Tibet. Twenty eight types of semi-precious stones precious gems were inlaid into the white marble.
As if dictated by destiny, on completion of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb overthrew and placed him under house arrest, and upon Shah Jahan’s death, Aurangzeb buried him next to his wife in the mausoleum.
Three to four million tourists visit The Taj Mahal annually, mostly from October to February, when the climate is North Indian winter.
There are several buildings world over, which are modeled after the Taj Mahal. Some of the notable ones are the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and the Taj Mahal Bangladesh. Bur the replica of 1:25 scale, the miniature Taj Mahal in Tobu World Square, a theme park in Kinugawa Onsen, Nikko, Tochigi, Japan, seems to be the best of them all.