So the story goes something like this boy meets girls, they fall madly in love, and then she dies but that is were things get really interesting he builds the most impressive mausoleum to honor her and in a way their love story becomes one of the ages. Shah Jahan was a great womanizer but once me met and married the beautiful Mumtaz Mahal, Persian princess, all of that changed. She was his 3rd wife. In 17 years, she bore him 14 children that alone would merit preferential treatment by any standards. Only 6 children, survived past early childhood (4 boys and 2 girls). It is said that when Mumtaz Mahal was pregnant with her 14th child she knew that she wouldn’t survive so she asked 2 things of her husband 1) he never marry again and 2) he build such a monument to her memory that people will talk of their love through the ages. He made good on both of his promises. Mumtaz did in fact die in 1631 giving birth to Gauhara Begum their 14th child.
Shah Jahan was grief stricken and began construction on the Taj Mahal in 1632. He created a city just outside this site for all of the laborers to live until the project was completed. He was said to have aged 20 hears after her death, all of his hair turned gray. He was said to be unconsolable, he ignored all of the affairs of the kingdom except construction. After 4 years of grief, trusted advisors told him to get it together his people needed him. He did start ruling his kingdom again. The project was completed around 1653, employing close to 22,000 artisans and craftsman. The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees at that time. The principal designer is general considered to be Ustad Ahmad Lahauri but a board of architects under the King were responsible for the construction and detailed designs.
No fixed rules for succession made being a royal heir a dangerous business. Soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion, Shah Jahan son Aurangzeb wanted desperately to rule so he killed his 3 brothers. Then he deposed father and put him under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. His eldest daughter carried for him until his death 8 years later. His chambers in Fort Agra loomed upon the Taj Mahal across the river. Shah Jahan was never supposed to be buried at the Taj Mahal but during his confinement he requested that his daughter have him buried next to his wife in the mausoleum. His daughter made sure her father’s wishes were honored when he died in 1657 and that is the only non-symmetrical piece within the Taj.
The garden is one of the best parts. There is a 980 foot square charbagh or Mughal garden. Raised pathways divide each of the 4 quarters into 16 flowerbeds. There is a raised marble water tank called all Had al-Kawthar, which refers to the tank of abundance which was promised to Muhammad in the center of the garden. There is also a reflecting pool going north-south, halfway between the tomb and the platform. Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center. While in the Taj, the tomb is located at the end of the garden further making this mausoleum special. There are four channels that meet at the platform. These 4 channels symbolize the four flowing rivers of Jannah (Paradise) and reflects the paradise garden. There is an idea of abundance with 4 rivers flowing from a central spring that describes paradise in mystic Islamic texts of the time hence the layout of the garden.
When facing the tomb, there is a working mosque in red sandstone to the left. The is a matching building to the right (keeping symmetry) was only used once 1 year after Mumtaz Mahal’s death as part of a rembrance festivities.
Some pics I liked..
Just the building itself.
So you can get an idea of what’s on the walls. The entire Koran is etched in the building.
A mosque to the left.
The entry way.
Words and pictures just can’t do the place justice. It is hard to describe the symmetry and sheer size.
All my love-