Taj Mahal "a monument of immeasurable beauty". Taj Mahal "the epitome of love". The beauty of this monument is such that it is beyond the scope of words. The thoughts that come into the mind while watching the Taj Mahal of Agra in India is not just its phenomenal beauty, but the immense love which was the reason behind its construction. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, with whom he fell in love at the first sight. The very first sight of the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love and romance leaves one mesmerized.
The call of the muezzin hung in the air, suspended for a moment in time….A timeless moment which recalled the past glory of the Mughal empire and the unsurpassed love of one of its architects, Shah Jahan, for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal stood silent, an eloquent testimony of eternal love, etched against the perfect evening sky.
As crimson rays tinged the flawless façade of the Taj Mahal, a delicate pink, the people bowed in homage as they recalled the poignant saga of love encapsulated in the annals of history.
A lyric in luminous marble, the Taj Mahal stands on the banks of the river Yamuna. Immovable and unsurpassed in its beauty, yet the Taj Mahal has moved thousands of people to an expression of eloquent emotion. One of the Seven Wonders of the World,
the Taj Mahal was designed by a Persian architect named Ustad Isa, at the behest of the heart
-broken Mughal king - Shah Jahan – to fulfill the last wish of his wife. But let us go back in time to that fateful day when the great love story between the Mughal emperor and his would-be queen began….
In the year 1607 A.D. at the Mughal ruler’s palace at Agra, a festive was being celebrated at the royal Meena Bazar. On this day, the gates of the private market attached to the harem of Emperor Jehangir, were thrown open to royalty and high-ranking commoners alike. It was at one of the stalls that Prince Khurram, later Shah Jahan, espied the lovely Arjumand Begum (later Mumtaz Mahal) and was completely enraptured by her charms.
When the royal wedding took place five years later, in accordance with auspicious planetary configurations, Prince Khurram resplendently attired in rich gold and brocade,
rode in regal splendour in the center of the magnificent marriage procession of richly caparisoned elephants. Accompanying acrobats and musicians danced and sang in joyous
celebration even as gold coins were tossed as a gesture of benevolence for the celebrating throngs. Emperor Jehangir, also much taken with the beauty of his young daughter-in-law, bestowed upon her the name of Mumtaz Mahal or “Chosen One of the Palace”.
The prince continued to court his young bride ardently even after they were married , bringing her lavish gifts of diamonds and gorgeous roses from the most distant gardens in the country. Mumtaz Mahal, in turn, stood staunchly by her husband’s side through all the vicissitudes of life and rose to be his trusted political adviser and counsel. In their nineteen years of wedded bliss, she bore him fourteen children, of whom only seven survived. The birth of the last daughter proved to be a difficult one for her and finally took her life. When the danger to her life was perceived, the emperor was speedily summoned and sat devotedly by her side, murmuring soothing words of comfort and love. All in vain. Before she breathed her last, Mumtaz Mahal made Shah Jahan promise to erect a peerless monument to immortalize their love.
It took the heart-broken Shah Jahan 22 years to construct the Taj Mahal and 20,000 men toiled ceaselessly to fulfill his dream. Built of the finest white marble and inlaid with precious stones, the Taj Mahal is flanked by two immensely beautiful mosques on either side. Since the lovely Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth, the Taj Mahal is today an Urs or place of pilgrimage.
Here, every Friday, burkha-clad women and men wearing traditional prayer caps, solemnly gather for the prayer to be read out from the Koran (the holy book of the Muslims), at sunrise. As the ten Khadims or servants of God faithfully intone the prayer, the devout reverently bow their heads as a mark of respect to one so well loved, now gone!
Beyond the voluptuous curves of domes and arches, ramrod lines of minarets, pillars and calligraphic frames and friezes, the delicate symmetry of it all, is captured the rhythm of birds in flight and the secrets of flowers, bringing to life the carvings decorating the Taj Mahal. In the warm, vibrant colours of Nature. Colours that will never fade, like the everlasting love of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Immortalising the Taj Mahal as the epitome of an undying love .
Taj Mahal Location
Standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is synonymous with love and romance. It is believed that the name "Taj Mahal" was derived from the name of Shah Jahan wife Mumtaz Mahal and means "Crown Palace". The purity of the white marble, the exquisite ornamentation, precious gemstones used and its picturesque location, all make Taj Mahal travel gain a place amongst the most popular ones. However, unless and until, one knows the love story behind the Tajmahal of India, it will come up as just a beautiful building. But, the love behind this outstanding monument is what has given a life to this monument.
Location: On the banks of river Yamuna in Agra
Year of Construction: 1631-1653
Built By: Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Spread Over: 42 acres
Significance: One of the Seven Wonders of the World
Sunrise and sunset visits are very highly recommended, and the higher entrance fees* for either of these visits is also included in the tour (two visits per guest, one day visit and one special visit). The other visit is optional at your choice. Because of the lack of crowds, these moments are sure to make you feel the incredible harmony that permeates this monument and its surroundings.
Visiting the Taj Mahal is an experience everyone should enjoy. Visits to the Taj Mahal can be included in any travel plans (Agra is easily accessible from all major cities in India).
The construction of Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal's construction was done by Shah Jahan ( Mughal emperor ) who erected this mausoleum in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in A.H. 1040 (A.D. 1630).
Mumtaz Mahal last wish to her husband was "to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before". Thus emperor Shah Jahan set about building this fairy tale like marvel.
The construction of Taj Mahal was started in A.D. 1632 and completed at the ended in 1648 A.D. For seventeen years, twenty thousand workmen are said to have been employed on it daily, for their accommodation a small town, named after the deceased empress- 'Mumtazabad', now known as Taj Ganj, was built adjacent to it.
Taj Mahal was designed by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The material was brought in from allover India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the site. The central dome is 187 ft. high at the centre.
Red sandstone was brought from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and Crystal from China, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal & Comelian from Arabia and Diamonds from Panna. In all 28 kind of rare, semi precious and precious stones were used for inlay work in the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal calligrapher was Amanat Khan Shirazi, his name occurs at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the Taj. Poet Ghiyasuddin had designed the verses on the tombstone, while Ismail Khan Afridi of Turkey was the dome maker. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of Masons.
The white marble was brought from the quarries of Makrana, in distt. Nagaur, Rajasthan. Copies of orders (farmans) issued to Raja Jai Singh, for the purpose by Shah Jahan, can be seen in the Taj Museum.
Taj Mahal's outer court, also known as Jilo Khana, was formerly used both as a bazar and a caravansarai (Rest house). On the south-east and south-west comers are the tombs of Sirhindi Begum and Satiunnisa Khanum. The Taj has a jewel-like quality.
MONUMENTS WITHIN THE TAJ COMPLEX
There are two identical buildings on either side of the Taj Mahal. These buildings are entirely made of red sandstone. While both these buildings are mosques, the one towards the west (left side of the Taj) is important and used for offering prayers, as it not only sanctifies the Taj but also faces Mecca. The replica on the other side is known as the Jawab (answer). TAJ MAHOTSAV Taj Mahal serves as a backdrop for the annual Taj Mahotsav (Taj festival), which is usually held in the month of February. The Taj Mahotsav is a celebration of traditional Indian art forms and crafts. The main events of this festival include classical dance performances by leading dance exponents and musical recitals by maestros, apart from display of various craft products and cultural shows.