Story of Taj Mahal

The history of Taj Mahal dates back to the Mughal Era in India between 16th & 19th. The construction of this masterpiece is credited to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who erected this mausoleum in the memory of his beloved mistress, Arjumand Bano Begum, popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1630 AD.

Taj Mahal StoryTaj Mahal Story

Mumtaz Mahal's 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 fairytale like marvel. Mumtaz Mahal died, after delivering her fourteenth child "Gauharar". While Mumtaz was on her deathbed Shahjahan had promised her, never to remarry and to build the richest mausoleum over her grave. The body was temporarily buried in the Zainabadi Garden in Burhanpur and in six months time removed to Agra. He decided to build the mausoleum in a plot on the riverside. The work on the tomb started with thousands of artisans and labourers.

Shahjahan requested Raja Jai Singh to immediately and constantly supply the Makrana marble for the tomb. To carry huge marble slabs to the top, an inclined two and a half mile long road ramp was built. The construction materials were brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the construction site. The central dome of the tomb is 187 feet 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 and Cornelian from Arabia and diamonds from Panna. In all 28 kind of semi precious and precious stones were used for inlay work in the Taj Mahal. The main building material, the white marble was brought from the quarries of Makrana, in distt. Nagaur, Rajasthan. In almost six years the main edifice of the tomb was complete.

Ustad Ahmad Lahori was the chief architect of the project. For twenty two years, twenty thousand workmen were employed on the construction of the Taj daily. A small town called Mumtazabad, now known as Taj Ganj, was settled for the accommodation of the workers on the site. Amanat Khan Shirazi was the calligrapher of Taj Mahal. Poet Ghyasuddin had designed the verses on the tombstone and Ismail Khan Afridi of Turkey was the dome maker. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of Masons.

Humayun's Tomb and the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana in Delhi, Akbar's tomb at Sikandara and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula at Agra, built by Nurjahan for her father had served as model for the Taj Mahal. The dome-topped structure raised on a high platform and the grand pietra dura decoration and exquisitely coloured hard precious stones infixed into the white marble were an inspiration for Shahjahan. The lyrical rhythm of the floral motifs had an awesome beauty, which the Taj greatly copied from the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula. The expenses in the construction of Taj was worked out to be 50 lakhs on those days.

Father Manrique in 1641 advanced the claim of the Italian jeweler Geronimo Veroneo as the architect of the Taj, not willing to allow the native artisans all the credit for this excellent work. But the claim made by him was never be proved, hence remained a legend only.

Even after more than three centuries have passed, the Taj is seen by millions of tourists every year. Taj Mahal is best described by the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, as "Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones."