Have A Peek Into The History Of India’s Taj Mahal

From times immemorial, Taj Mahal has been the embodiment of the incessant love of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his fair haired wife Mumtaj Mahal. Having found its place among the Seven Wonders of the World, this magnificent piece of architecture has galvanised the works of many poets and writers.

Such is the conspicuity of this outstanding monument that it attracts visitors from all parts of the globe. But have you ever tried to turn the pages of history and know the facts indispensable to its existence? If no, we let you have a peek-a-boo into its historical details and satiate your longing to know more. We are sure that some mesmerising truths will melt your heart away!

History Of Taj Mahal

Culmination Of Love

Prince Khurram or Shah Jahan was the son of Mughal Emperor Jehangir. Once, he was roaming about the streets of Meena Bajar along with his attendants, when his eyes fell upon a beautiful girl selling glass beads. The prince instantly fell in love with this girl of peerless beauty. He was so charmed by her that despite of being a Mughal prince, decided to marry her.

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The girl, Arjumand Banu Begam, was only 15 at that time, so the prince had to wait for another 5 years before getting married to her. Shah Jahan acceded to the throne in 1628 and became Mughal emperor. Though the king married several times, it was Arjumand to whom he really lost his heart. So profound was his love for her that he used to take her along with all his military conquests.

She used to accompany him whenever and for whatsoever purpose he had to go out of the city. The emperor even entrusted her with a new name, Mumtaj Mahal, meaning ‘jewel of the palace’. He also showered his love by bestowing her with many royal titles.

Separation And Mourning

The year 1631 was an eventful one for the emperor; it was during this year that he went out for carrying out a conquest of South India. His beloved wife, as usual, accompanied him. At that time, she was expecting 14th child of the emperor. Too many pregnancies, frail health, and the fatigue of travelling long distances with the king had already weakened her.

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While giving child birth, she underwent some complications and died at Burhanpur. On her deathbed, she took a promise from the Shah Jahan that he would never marry again and that he would build such a monument for her that would have no parallel in the entire world.

The king became so shattered with his beloved wife’s death that he went into mourning for a period of two years. If the historical evidences are to be believed, the royal court did not saw merriment of any form during this period. Any kind of celebration or feasting was totally banned.

Beginning Of Construction

Mumtaj was buried in a site selected by king himself; it was a beautiful garden in Agra and belonged to Jai Singh, a king of Amber. A firman was ordered by which Jai Singh was given several mansions in exchange of his garden. The site was ideal for the construction of tomb as it lay beside the surreal Yamuna River and no other structures were resent here that could steal the spotlight.

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Also, the place could be glimpsed from Shah Jahan’s palace.The construction of this historical monument began the same year. Ustad Isa, a renowned architect of Persia, was responsible for designing the tomb. Though the entire construction work was under the supervision of Isa and his disciple Ustad Ahmed, the job of constructing the dome was entrusted to Ismail Khan.

Interesting Facts

As the monument had to be the best of its time, artists with the finest calibre were summoned to Agra. Artisans, calligraphers (from Syria), stone cutters (from Baluchistan), sculptors (from Bukhara) and inlayers (from South India) were called from places like Central Asia and the result was this sans pareil monument of love.

The entire structure was laid in marble which was brought from several parts round the globe like Rajasthan, Afghanistan, China, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Punjab and Central Asia. More than 25 varieties of semi precious as well as precious stones were used to adorn the lavish interiors.

The other surprising fact is that it took about 22 years for the completion of Taj Mahal including the splendid dome which alone took 15 years. As many as 20000 workers were put to work. The services of about 1000 elephants were also used in order to transport men and hauling the machinery.

Along with the interiors, the exteriors too were embellished with calligraphy, vegetable motifs, and abstract drawings. A ramp of 15 kms was built in order to transport the construction material to the site and a number of oxen were employed to carry them. The structure seems symmetrical in whatever direction it is seen from.

As the tomb got erected, the hands of artisans were cut off in exchange of wealth; it was done so that the artists won’t be able to make a structure that equalled Taj Mahal in beauty and grandeur. The total estimated cost of the construction of the mausoleum was 32 crore. Shah Jahan also wanted to built a black Taj Mahal just opposite to the white one but this dream of his could not see the light of the day.

Soon after the completion of this colossal monument, Shah Jahan was held captive in his Agra Fort by his own son Aurangzeb. After the death of Shah Jahan, he too was buried in the same mausoleum besides his wife. During the mutiny of 1857, Taj fell into the hands of British soldiers who defaced it by taking out lapis lazuli and other valuable stones from the walls. Later, a project started by Lord Curzon resulted in the restoration of the structure.

Centuries have elapsed but Taj still basks in the glory of its sublimity; echoing the immortalization of love and the consummation of the highest order, this monument will continue to inflame the hearts of millions.

anuradha malhotra