With its immaculate design and impeccable decorations, Taj Mahal is
regarded as the best specimen of Saracenian architecture.
Who Built the Taj?
The Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory of
his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. After the death of the queen, the lovelorn
Emperor decided to erect this splendid structure so as to perpetuate his
love for Mumtaz. From 1631, when work on the Taj was started, it took 22
years of tireless effort of 20,000 workers to accomplish the task.
The Main Architect
There is an aura of mystery around the fact as to who was the brain behind
the design of the Taj. From the claims of the Italian Geronimo Veroneo to
the French silversmith Austin de Bordeaux, there are many contenders. But
the poems contained in a seventeenth century manuscript called the
Diwan-i-Muhandis, recovered in the 1930s, ascribes this position to one
Ustad Ahmad from Lahore, a Persian engineer-astrologer. Ahmad was the father
of Luft Allah, who wrote the verses found in the manuscript.
The Taj Complex
The Taj Mahal is a fabulous combination of tomb, mosque, gardens, gateways
and fountains. The main mausoleum is set on a raised platform, 6.6 meters in
height, and covers an area of 93.9 sq. meters. There are four corner
minarets, each 41.1 meters high. The main structure is 62 meters on each
side. While the mausoleum is made of gleaming white marble, the pair of
buildings flanking the tomb to the west and to the east is made of red
sandstone. While the western building is a mosque, the other is the guest
house cum museum. The water causeway and fountains join the gateway and the
tomb to complete the symmetry of the scene.
The Flawless Craftmenship
is a plethora of significant and striking elements inherent in the creation
of this magnificent structure- both inside and outside. The grandeur of the
stone inlay work certainly remains unparalled. It includes the three main
features of the Muslim decorative arts: quotes from the Q'uran, geometrical
shapes and a variety of plant forms and flowers, often repeated as borders.
The marble and precious stone inlays are fit together with such dexterity as
to make it impossible for one to detect a seam. The calligraphy of the
quotes from the Q'uran on the mausoleum is done in a kind of trompe l'oeil
style to create 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. And all these parts put together- you have
this mesmerizing marvel of marble!
Nitty Gritties of Building Materials Used
The materials used for building this monument of love was transported from
places far and wide. For instance, marble was dug from the hills of far-off
Makrana, in Rajasthan; Chinese Turkestan in Central Asia supplied Nephrite
jade and crystal; from Tibet, turquoise; from upper Burma, yellow amber;
from Egypt, chrysolite et al. The Taj is bejewelled with 43 types of gems
including topazes, onyxes, garnets, sapphires and bloodstone.