Taj Mahal is recognized as one of the Worlds’ Seven Wonders. It is a glorious mausoleum with rich history. It is built of white marble and truly symbolizes love, purity and affection, like no other architecture. Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate, introduced the Taj as the “Tear Drop on the Cheek of Time”. Built in Agra, Taj Mahal has several tales about it.
The Taj Mahal reigns excellent as one of the most iconic and recognizable structures in India. The elegantly curved archways, delicate minarets, and well rounded domes attracted a lot of tourists from across the world and pilgrimage to stand in front of its entrance. Along with its construction, the wonder is also in the building. Here are some of the amazing facts about the marvelous Taj Mahal.
10. Built in the Memory of Shah Jahan’s 14th Wife
All of us know that Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor, built the Taj in the loving memory of Mumtaz Mahal. But most people don’t even know that she stands at No. 3 in the list of his wives. But she was the luckiest one as Shah Jahan built this epitome of love in her memory. When she died, she was giving birth to her 14th child in the year 1631. Legend has it that his empress was the important part of his life. After her death, Shah Jahan was broken. Within few months, his beard and hair grew white and it was a huge impact of the loss.
9. It Took Decades to Complete
Started after a year after his empress’ demise, in 1632, the construction of the Taj Mahal took around 22 years to complete. The estimated cost of this historic architectural marvel was whopping Rs. 32 million. If it is compared with today’s value, it would be around $1 billion.
8. 20000 Labors and 1000 Elephants in Construction
Ahmed Lahauri was the master architect behind all the magic work done. It took around 20000 humans’ workforce to develop this structure, including stonecutters, laborers, embroiders, painters, calligraphers and more. Along with that, 1000 elephants were employed to transport the construction materials and stones for the mausoleum.
7. Precious Gems Used
The white marbles were beautifully studded with 28 varieties of both semi-precious and precious gems from different Asian countries to construct the Taj. The blue stones were imported from Tibet, emeralds from Sri Lanka, crystals from China, jasper brought from Punjab and marble from Rajasthan. The huge edifice is fully covered by red stone walls on three sides. It is built completely of white marble. The best quality marbles were bought by the emperor from Tibet, Rajasthan, Afghanistan and China. The king was still not satisfied with it. Legends had it that he bought varieties of stones and gems, including lapis lazuli which was embedded beautifully into the marble. This is where he spent such a huge amount.
6. The Calligraphy
Being the tribute and dedication to Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal has inscriptions all around the exterior and interior. It also has calligraphy and holy inscriptions and patterns over the tomb. All of these inscriptions praise and are dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal. On the sides of the tomb, it has 99 names of Allah written as the calligraphic inscriptions. Shah Jahah also envisioned the home of Mumtaz in the paradise. It was truly an imagination which came to life.
5. The Perfection in its Tombs
The Taj is one of the most balanced structures in the world. The four sides of the structure are completely identical and built according to the self-replication principles and symmetry in its architecture and geometry. On both sides, it creates a mirrored image. The two tombs within are unequal to show male tomb larger as compared to female. There are four minarets built prudently and a bit outside the plinth. In case they fell, they would go outside, not over the main structure.
4. Changing Colors
Only a few people know that the Taj changes its colors according to different times of the day. Thanks to the reflective tiles and white marble, the Taj Mahal changes its colors automatically. In early morning, it turns pinkish. When day rolls on, it becomes dazzling white. In the moonlight, it turns burnished golden. On full moon lights, it is really a great attraction. The changing colors of the structure symbolize the changing mood of Mumtaz Mahal.
3. The Common Myths
It is believed that Emperor Shah Jahan chopped the thumbs of all the works so they can never build second masterpiece in the world like Taj Mahal. But it is completely a myth. There is no reality in this statement. Another myth which is most common is that he wanted to construct a black Taj Mahal but couldn’t execute his plan when it was deposed. The idea basically comes from the fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveler. But there is no evidence that supports its validity.
2. Attack on the Structure
The Taj was attacked and partially damaged due to the revolt in 1857. The soldiers also chiseled off lapis lazuli and some of its stones and they also vandalized the garden. By the end of 19th century, the well known Viceroy of British India, Lord Curzon renovated the structure with a big project completed in the year 1908. The garden was renovated to depict all the lost elements in Charbagh. A chandelier hangs in the Taj was gifted by him.
1. Was it a Lord Shiva Temple? Or it’s a Myth!
The Taj was actually built with the mixture of Persian, Indian and Islamic architecture. Hence, it is known as the magnum opus of architectural exploits in Mughal era. P. N. Oak, an Indian writer claimed that the Taj was actually a Rajput palace Tejo Mahalaya, and a Shiv Temple, built by Parmar Dev, a Hindu King, which was seized by Shah Jahan. He declared the same by filing a petition in 2000 and excavated the site to find out the evidence, but it was dismissed by High Court.
Currently, The Taj is well covered by the guest houses, lush green landscapes and mosque spread over 17 hectares in its complex walls. It holds the glory of Mughal’s era but it still suffers from air pollution. Hence, it is turning yellowish gradually, especially because of acid rain. Shah Jahan once approached the Taj by a boat over the Yamuna River and feasted his eyes over the dream mausoleum for the first time. That river is now dry. But the walls of the Taj still stand as the symbol of love and Shah Jahan lies in peace with his lovely wife, Mumtaz Mahal.