Imagine in a full moon night, you are sitting on the bank of a river , in front of a highland. And on the surface of this ascent , a white jewel is shining. And it is reverting itself in the mirror of the water. Probably you are thinking it as the most romantic fantasy. But this is not dreamy. The river , we are talking about is Yamuna and the white jewel is the great “Taj Mahal“. The incomparable , peerless and unparalleled Taj Mahal !
Taj Mahal, the greatest Mausoleum of Love is an elegy in white marble which is in fact the most phenomenal burial place ever built by any Romeo for his Juliet. Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal Emperor , Shahab u Din Muhammad Shahjahan, who was the fifth emperor of the then great Mughal empire of India. Shahjahan was also famous with the name of the “Engineer Emperor” and his period was the most glorious period for Mughal architecture. He constructed many remarkable structures but the most breathtaking of all of them is surely the Taj Mahal.
In 1631 , Shahjahan lost his most beloved wife the Empress Mumtaz Mahal ” Arjumand Banu Begum ” during the birth of their fourteenth child. She was the most trustworthy companion of the Emperor Shahjehan who remained with his husband during all of her life. Mumtaz Mahal was Emperor’s true love and she was also the mother of Aurangzeb Alamgir who was the successor of the Emperor Shahjehan. The death of the Empress was the most dejected incident in the life of the Emperor Shahjahan. At that time , he decided to make the tomb of his valentine as the most elegant final resting place in the world.
The construction of Taj Mahal was started in 1632. The location was selected in the center of the historic city of Agra on a high rising point, right on the bank of the river Yamuna. Agra which is also known as Akbarabad is a city of Uttar Pardesh which is the largest state of India. The city enjoyed its highest significance during the reigns of the Mughal Emperors and it also remained as the capital the of Mughal Empire till 1649. The city has witnessed a lot of construction activities by the Mughals and obviously, the erection of the legendary Taj Mahal.
There are many controversies about the designer of the Taj Mahal, but many facts suggest that the architectural design which was based on interlocking arabesque was prepared by Ustad Isa Afandi, who was the renowned Persian Architect of that times. The whole selected piece of land was leveled 50 m above the bank of Yamuna river. Before the erection of the tomb place , many wells were dug and after that all of them were filled with stones and rubbles. The most delicate part of the construction was the building of the main dome and four smaller domes. The top of these fabulous onion shaped domes were decorated in lotus style and these were embellished with typical Persian patterns. The diameter of the main dome is 80 feet high. To fix the precious marble stones a 15 km ramp was constructed to transport the material. More than 22,000 workforce was applied for the construction of Taj Mahal. The circumference of the tomb is 30 meters and the height of the four splendid minarets of the tomb was kept 35 meters. The erection of these fantastic minarets were executed in away that they were built slightly away from the main foundation in order to avoid total collapse of the main building.
The inside of the tomb consists of one central octagonal room surrounded by four other rectangular rooms on the side and four octangular rooms on the four corners. The interior decoration of the main chamber was also done in superb manner. Fantastic decoration work comprising of the fixation of the precious gemstones and the incredible calligraphic work reflects the supreme sovereign taste of the Emperor Shahjehan. The burial chamber is located right beneath the central chamber and consists of the actual graves of the Empress Mumtaz Mahal and the Emperor Shahjahan covered by two cenotaphs.
An exceptional monument of Taj Mahal is its distinguished Gateway. It was prepared in such a way to prevent any glimpse of the tomb from outside. But once you get inside the doorway , the stunning view of the Taj Mahal astonishes the visitor. The Gateway of Taj Mahal was completetd in 1648 and it is 30 meter high. Similarly the garden of Taj Mahal is another awesome feature of this great mausoleum. Once you enter from the Gateway , you’ll feel the lush green domination of Taj Gardens in the whole complex. At the time of the construction , Taj Gardens were divided in a total number of 64 beds out of which 16 were only for flowers. 400 plants including cypress and fruit trees were planted to maintain the symmetry.
It took a period of almost 20 years for the construction of this brilliant memorial of love. Taj Mahal would had remained a great symbol of gratification and a sense of delight for the Emperor Shahjehan after its completion. But when his own son Aurangzeb Alamgir imprisoned him in the Agra Fort in 1657, when a civil war began in India. Shahjehan used to view Taj Mahal from his private chamber , mourning for his destiny and beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and he died during this captivity of eight years. Shahjehean was buried in Taj Mahal besides his beloved Mumtaz Mahal and thus this great love story which passed through many tragic phases ended in the meeting of the souls with each other forever.
Today, Taj Mahal, the greatest Mausoleum of Love is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the seven Wonders of the World which attracts 3 to 4 million visitors annually. A proper conservation strategy is adopted by the Indian Government to safeguard this unique beauty of the world. Whole surrounding area is declared a complete Buffer Zone to prevent the great Taj Mahal from the environmental threats and pollution.