One of the most beautiful monuments I have ever seen from the lens of other people’s research and exploration is the structure of a perfectly symmetrical architectural creation propelled by power and love.
The Taj Mahal
Meaning: The crown of the palace/chosen one of the palace
I find the story ageless and captivating because even the information we have in the 21st Century has been passed down for four centuries, constantly evolving and being unraveled as people probe to understand the mystery of wealth, power and love of the monument.
The Taj was commissioned to be built in 1630 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. History records that the structure was to be the resting place of the king’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. It is built on the banks of the Yamuna River in Agra, India.
Millions of bricks were transported by thousands of elephants and the foundation was laid brick by brick to construct a perfect structure that would disappear forever under the beauty of flawless white marble.
The architects and craftsmen of the Taj Mahal were masters of proportions and tricks of the eye.
When you first approach the main gate that frames the Taj, the monument appears incredibly close and large. But as you get closer, it shrinks in size, exactly the opposite of what you would expect.
The documentaries I have watched have had many commentators saying, “when you are leaving the Taj Mahal, the front gate illusion makes you feel as though you are taking the Taj with you.”
Over 20,000 craftsmen were involved in the construction of the mausoleum and the construction took approximately 20 years to complete.
The Taj Mahal is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Despite its iconic stature, much of its history is still shrouded in mystery; its architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex, arches and domes which increases the aesthetic aspect.
The uniqueness of Taj Mahal lies in some truly remarkable innovations which were carried out by planners and architects of Shah Jahan.
Take for instance the pillars, they seem perfectly upright but with close observation, the towers actually lean outward providing balance. The pillars would crumble away from the main crypt in case of a disaster like an earthquake, protecting the whole structure. Amazing? I think so too.
The color combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show-cases the monument in ever changing tints. The exterior work in marble and inlay with semi precious stones make it distinctive.
Fact: The Taj changes color throughout the day.
Fiction: Architects and craftsmen’s hands were severed and others put to death so that there could never be a recreation of a similar work of art.
The Taj contains two exquisite cenotaphs representing the occupants of the tomb, Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Some architects argue that the Shah was not intended to be buried at the Taj. Both cenotaphs are elegantly carved and inlaid with semi-precious stones.
A cenotaph is tomb which is empty and meant to represent the people who have been interred. The actual bodies of Shah Jahan and his wife are buried beneath their cenotaphs in a lower chamber. However the Islam religion prohibits decoration of graves therefore both Shah and Mumtaz are buried in plain crypt beneath the Taj.
A beautiful thing to note about the Taj is that, due to the river and the fountains the monument’s reflection makes it look as though the structure has its own echo.
The Taj Mahal is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world and also on my bucket list. (grin)
“Rahul had wondered how someone could love their beloved so much that their dedication to them became one of the wonders of the world” — Faraaz Kazi
Photo Credits: Modlar
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