architectural complex of the Taj Mahal consists of the main gateway, the
symmetrically planned garden, the mosque, the rest house, and the the Taj
Mahal mausoleum. The actual Tomb is situated inside the Taj.
Taj Mahal, about 900 ft away at the north end of the garden, stands on two
bases, one of sandstone and above it, is a raised, square platform (186 x
186 feet) worked into a black and white chessboard design and topped by a
huge blue-veined white marble terrace. The four corners of the platform are
adorned by four white minarets, each of them 41.6m high.
The mausoleum, which is the central on the platform, is square structure
with beveled corners. Each side is 56.6 m long with two pointed arches
flanking a large central arch. While each corner is decked with small domes,
the centre has the main double dome topped by a brass finial. The exterior
portions are emblazoned with exquisite calligraphy, beautifully carved basso
relievo panels and inlay work in the form of immaculately proportioned large
floral tendrils which cover the surface of the white marble. The calligraphy
of the high domed ceiling of the octagonal main chamber is done in a kind of
trompe l'oeil style, which creates a decorative illusion- the letters
gradually increase in size as they go up the side of the structure, so that
from the ground all letters appear perfectly uniform. The calligraphy mainly
consists of verses from the Quran and melodies of musicians.
In the middle of the main chamber there are the pseudo- tombs of Mumtaz and
Shah Jehan. The original tombs lie in a lower-burial vault. A marble screen
surrounds the tombs. It is cut with such finesse that it appears almost
translucent. Both tombs are embellished with precious stones and gems
brought from far flung places of the world. While the top of Mumtaz's tomb
is embellished with the 99 names of Allah, Shah Jahan's tomb is set with a
pen box, the stylemark of a male ruler.