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One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is a perfect example of undying love. This white marble mausoleum was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is undoubtedly a jewel of Muslim art and is highly appreciated masterpieces of the world’s heritage. A large number of people visit Taj Mahal for viewing its grandeur and charm. It still stands in all its glory by glorifying human love. Agra has also been put on the tourism and travel map of the world by Shah Jahan.
Taj Mahal has a beautiful story behind it that has been passed on from generation to generation. According to the story, Shah Jahan fell in love with Mumataz Mahal and married her. Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to her 14th child ‘Gauhara Begum’. She took a promise from Shah Jahan before her last breadth that a monument representing their love should be built on the banks of Yamuna River. The emperor fulfilled her dream and the monument took 20 years and 20,000 workers to get completed. It is believed that the name ‘Taj Mahal’ is an abbreviated version of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The walls are beautifully decorated with semi-precious stones having calligraphic inscriptions of 99 names of Allah in Persian.
The construction of Taj Mahal began in 1632 and got completed in 1653. Around 20,000 people were employed to build this monument. Some of the best stone carvers, calligraphers and architects were appointed especially for designing this memorial. The Persian master named Ustad Ias Khan was appointed for the purpose of designing. Makramat Khan and Abdul-Karim Ma’mur were the finest architects who helped in constructing this monument. A number of skilled artists from various parts of the world such as Syria, Baghdad, South India, Baluchistan, Bokhara and Samarkand were also appointed. Semi-precious gems and stones were imported from various parts of the India. Some of the best gems were imported from various countries like crystal and jade from China, sapphires from Sri Lanka, malachite from Russia, turquoise from Tibet, diamonds from Hyderabad (India), chrysolite from Egypt and lapis from Afghanistan.
Taj Mahal is undisputedly the best example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The Taj Mahal is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Its recognised architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex and light shadow; such as arches and domes further increases the aesthetic aspect. The colour combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show cases the monument in ever changing tints and moods. The relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones make it a monument apart.
The uniqueness of Taj Mahal lies in some truly remarkable innovations carried out by the horticulture planners and architects of Shah Jahan. One such genius planning is the placing of tomb at one end of the quadripartite garden rather than in the exact centre, which added rich depth and perspective to the distant view of the monument. It is also, one of the best examples of raised tomb variety. The tomb is further raised on a square platform with the four sides of the octagonal base of the minarets extended beyond the square at the corners. The top of the platform is reached through a lateral flight of steps provided in the centre of the southern side.
The ground plan of the Taj Mahal is in perfect balance of composition, the octagonal tomb chamber in the centre, encompassed by the portal halls and the four corner rooms. The plan is repeated on the upper floor.