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Taj Mahal
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Seven Wonders Of The World

 

TAJ  MAHAL

Taj Mahal India - Located at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal is one of the most splendid masterpieces of architecture in the world. It was Emperor Shah Jehan who ordered the building of the Taj Mahal, in honor of his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu who was later known as Mumtaz Mahal, which means, the Distinguished of the Palace.

The taj mahal architecture:

The reign of Shahjahan from 1628 to 1658 was the golden age of Mughal architecture in India that produced a series of noble buildings. But, the most prominent and undoubtedly magnificent of all these was Taj Mahal built by him in the memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. There are very few buildings in the world with which so many of legends and literature has been produced and so many architects to take credit of the design of this symbol of love.

Architecturally, Taj was the greatest peace of architecture that Mughals produced, but it is a natural growth from the tomb of Humayun and to a lesser extent from certain other, prominent is the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah in Agra itself. But it is far superior to any of them in the dignity of its grouping and disposition, in the masterly contrast between the central dome and the slender minarets, in the chaste refinement and painstaking craftsmanship of its details, and above all in the splendor of its materials. The design of Taj is more Persian and less Indian than any building we have encountered, but it is again difficult to find any thing of Taj's stature in Persia (Iran).


Broadly, the Taj complex can be divided in Four distinct parts to understand its design and architecture. These are:
The Taj Gateway
The Taj Garden
The Taj Mausoleum
The Tomb
Pietra Dura


The Gate Way:

Befitting the most beautiful symbol of love, the Taj, is the gateway to this great monument. Taj Mahal looks like a miniature on the landscape from a distance, but appears to grow as you start to approach it. But, the minute you would enter the open square before the main entrance, you will be surprised to find the Taj Mahal disappear from your sight. Actually, the Taj is hidden by a massive red sandstone gateway within this square.

The massive Taj Gateway was completed in the year 1648 and stands 30 m high. The gateway is topped by small cupolas or chhatris. From a distance the Taj Mahal looks like a miniature on the landscape, which appears to grow as you approach it.

The Taj Plate form:

Taj Mahal is placed on a high plinth that can be approached from a central path within the garden. Height of the plinth is 6.7 m and the total area covered by it is around 95 sq m. There is a double staircase facing the entrance to the tomb and they are only way to reach to the top of the plinth. You are needed to remove your shoes here, though you can have your shocks on, as the white marble gets very hot. You can have the best views of the surroundings from this pedestal including the lush green char bagh in the front and the riverfront at the backside. And the feeling of closeness to towering structure of Taj from this place is unmatched.

Four minarets each having a height of 41.6 m and capped by a small cupola flank the four corners of the plinth. Minarets do not have the decorative motive here, but they also provide balance to the tomb. Minarets used in this way first appeared in India with Akbar's tomb at Sikandra. Latter they were used at the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah and further refined here. The minarets were placed in such a way that even in the case of a mishap, they do not fall over the main structure. There is another important aspect of the minarets, which signifies its spiritual important. There is a letter written on each of the minaret, which when put together spell the word ar-rahman or all merciful - one of the many names of Allah.

The Tomb from out side

The main tomb is square in shape and beveled at corners. Length of each side of the Taj is 56.6 m with a large central arch flanked by two pointed arches. Smaller domes rise at each corner while in the center is the main dome. The main dome of the Taj Mahal is a double dome actually and marks the continuation with first Mughal experiment with the concept of double dome at Humayun's Tomb in Delhi 90 years earlier. Main purpose of creating double dome was to enhance height of the structure and was Central Asian in origin. The main dome resembles to a huge pearl. This was done purposefully following a saying of the prophet that describes the throne of God as a dome of pearl supported by four pillars. Calligraphy has been used to carve the verses of holy Koran, beautifully carved panels in bas-relief, and superb inlay work is all there to enhance the exterior beauty of the tomb.

The Tomb from Inside:

 

From inside the mausoleum is comprised of a lofty central chamber, a crypt or maqbara immediately below this, four octagonal corner rooms originally intended to house the graves of other family members. But Aurangzeb, son of Shahjahan failed to honor this wish. The Central Chamber houses the replica tombs while the actual ones are being in the crypt. It was a tradition in the Mughal era to have a private as well as public tomb. Originally, the public tomb was surrounded by a jewel encrusted silver screen. Later, Aurangzeb removed the original screen and replaced it with an octagonal screen of marble and inlaid precious stones. The screen cost him Rs 50, 000 at that time, but the result is a stupendous piece of workmanship. Each screen or jali has been carved out of a single block of marble and all these blocks have been inlaid. If you put flash of light on these flowers, you can see how luminescent the marble and intricacy of inlay work is. There are as many as 64 pieces making up petals of some flowers, which achieve a 3D effect.

There is a Cairene lamp above the toms whose flame is supposed to never go out. This lamp was given by Lord Curzon (1899-1905), Governor General of India to replace the original lamp, which was stolen by mighty jats in the 18th century. The tomb of Mumtaz Mahal with the 'female slate', rests immediately beneath the dome. The tomb lines up centrally with the main entrance. The tomb of Shahjahan is larger and in the side, it is marked by a 'male' pen-box, the sign of a cultured and noble person. The tomb of Shahjahan was not intended to be there but Aurangzeb squeezed it beside the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal breaking the symmetry of otherwise flawless complex. Semi-precious stones are exquisitely inlaid in both the tombs. There is a fantastic acoustic design of the building with domed ceiling being designed to echo chants from the holy Koran and musicians melodies.

The Taj's Love Story

It has been called the most beautiful temple in the world, despite the fact that it was built at the cost of much human life. The Taj Mahal is a real monument of one man's love for a woman. The story is a sad one, told many times. But it never hurts to tell it again.

In 1631, when his wife died in childbirth, the emperor Shah Jahan brought to Agra the most skilled craftsmen from all Asia and even Europe, to build the white marble mausoleum that is the Taj Mahal. He intended to build a black marble mausoleum for himself, and the link between the two was to be a silver bridge. This fantastic plan suffered a dramatic and permanent setback when the Shah himself died.

Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond description, particularly at dawn and at sunset when it seems to glow in the light. On a foggy morning, it looks as though the Taj is suspended in mid-air when viewed from across the Jamuna river.

This is, of course, an illusion. The Taj stands on a raised square platform 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 a symmetry of architectural elements.

If you don't want the huge crowds to distract you from your view, try arriving just as it opens or is about to close. A few minutes alone in the perpetually echoing inner sanctum will reward you far more than several hours spent on a guided tour. Especially if your tour guide is Murbat Singh, who makes it his job to find a new comic slant on the Taj story every time he tells it.

To really do the Taj Mahal justice, you should plan to spend at least a full day in the grounds, to see this stunning piece of architecture at dawn, midday, and at dusk. The colours and atmosphere of the gardens and the Taj itself constantly change throughout the day. Under moonlight the marble glows.

 

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