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Taj Mahal

Posted by: on: 22/06/2012

The Taj Mahal (/ˌtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl/, more often /ˈtɑːʒ/;[2] Persian for "crown of palaces", pronounced [ˈt̪aːdʒ mɛˈɦɛl]) is a white marblemausoleum located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife of three,[clarification needed] Mumtaz Mahal.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for an additional ten years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million Indian rupees, which in 2015 would be valued at around 52.8 billion Indian rupees ($827 million US). The construction project employed around 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Thedomed marble tomb is part of an integrated complex consisting of gardens and two red-sandstone buildings surrounded by acrenellated wall on three sides.

The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India". It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Taj Mahal attracts some 3 million visitors a year. On 7 July 2007 it was declared one of the Seven winners ofNew7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative in Lisbon.

Architecture and design

The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand),[7] Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. Buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement




The complex is set around a large 300-metre (980 ft) square charbagh or Mughal garden. The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds. Halfway between the tomb and gateway in the center of the garden is a raised marble water tank with a reflecting pool positioned on a north-south axis to reflect the image of the mausoleum. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad.[22]

Elsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains. The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by Babur, the first Mughal emperor. It symbolises the four flowing rivers of Jannah (Paradise) and reflects the Paradise garden derived from the Persian paridaeza, meaning 'walled garden'. In mystic Islamic texts of the Mughal period, Paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.

Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center. The Taj Mahal garden is unusual in that the main element, the tomb, is located at the end of the garden. With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or "Moonlight Garden" on the other side of the Yamuna, the interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India is that the Yamuna river itself was incorporated into the garden's design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.[23] Similarities in layout and architectural features with the Shalimar Gardens suggests both gardens may have been designed by the same architect, Ali Mardan.[24] Early accounts of the garden describe its profusion of vegetation, including abundant roses, daffodils, and fruit trees.[25] As the Mughal Empire declined, the Taj Mahal and its gardens also declined. By the end of the 19th century, the British Empire controlled more than three-fifths of India,[26] and assumed management of the Taj Mahal. They changed the landscaping to their liking which more closely resembled the formal lawns of Londo


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