Taj Mahal: The White Romance

An ever-lasting romance of a love not ended as yet, the Taj reveals its subtleties to its beholder.

Defined beauty and epitome of elegance, Taj Mahal is one precise detail on the Indian land. Land of India is full of cultural heritage and this white piece of architectural art is narrating a story set in Indian origin. Since the very ancient times, India follows and believes in the art of capturing stories in products and materials to give them life. Since we believe that a man may die but art never dies. It stays immortal. Taj Mahal was built to keep a love story alive. Its intricacy adds to the value signifying human dedication and therefore makes it one of the wonders. Above all, the colour white is signifies love, peace and calmness.

White marble, inlayed with fine coloured motifs and decorated all over, it was built as an expression of love by the Mughal emperor. This was Shah Jahan’s way of showing love toward his wife, Mutmtaj  Mahal.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE TAJ MAHAL

Named the Taj Mahal in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was constructed of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones (including jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise) forming intricate designs in a technique known as pietra dura. Its central dome reached a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and was surrounded by four smaller domes; four slender towers, or minarets, stood at the corners. In accordance with Islamic tradition, verses from the Quran were inscribed in calligraphy on the arched entrances to the mausoleum, in addition to numerous other sections of the complex. Inside the mausoleum, an octagonal marble chamber adorned with carvings and semi-precious stones housed the cenotaph, or false tomb, of Mumtaz Mahal. The real sarcophagus containing her actual remains lay below, at garden level.

The rest of the Taj Mahal complex included a main gateway of red sandstone and a square garden divided into quarters by long pools of water, as well as a red sandstone mosque and an identical building called a jawab (or “mirror”) directly across from the mosque. Traditional Mughal building practice would allow no future alterations to be made to the complex. As the story goes, Shah Jahan intended to build a second grand mausoleum across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where his own remains would be buried when he died; the two structures were to have been connected by a bridge. In fact, Aurangzeb (Shah Jahan’s third son with Mumtaz Mahal) deposed his ailing father in 1658 and took power himself. Shah Jahan lived out the last years of his life under house arrest in a tower of the Red Fort at Agra, with a view of the majestic resting place he had constructed for his wife; when he died in 1666, he was buried next to her.

THE COLOUR ‘WHITE’

White is a colour of luxury, clearly depicted in this palace. It is the only colour which is friendly to every emotion, feel and aura. It can enhance as well demarcate itself from the rest. Such magic this colour adds and that is the only reason for this wonder of the world to be the one of the best heritage sites of the world.

Taj Mahal means “Crown Palace” and is in fact the most well preserved tomb in the world. The English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold has described the Taj as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”

It is a romance celebrated in marble and glorified with precious and semi-precious stones and that’s the way to appreciate it!.

Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his third but the most favourite wife, in fact a soul-mate Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 13th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.

When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. However, due to ill health and being under house arrest by his own son and successor to the throne, Aurangzeb, barred him from continue to keep the last promise.

The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen. So exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been described as “having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers”. The only asymmetrical object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor which was built beside the queen’s as an afterthought.

Legend has it that during his eight years long ailment and imprisonment, Shah Jahan used to intensly view the Taj lying on the bed through a diamond fixed in the wall in front at a particular angle. WOW!

As a tribute to a woman of exotic beauty and as a monument of a love story, which is keeping us engrossed even when we are reading through these pages here, truely an ever-lasting romance of a love not ended as yet, the Taj reveals its subtleties to its beholder!

The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In Indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj.

The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours change at different hours of the day and during different seasons.

The Taj sparkles like a jewel in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch and reflect back its glow with a better gleam. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different moods of a beauty of any kind.

Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble. A masterpiece of the art and science of architecture, a representative of an era called The Mughal Period surpassing any authority to add or de-add anything in any sense in or out of the Taj!

The Taj Mahal stands tall with grace is not just a parable epitome of emotional & eternal love between a man and a woman but for other reasons too.

Emperor Shah Jahan, who commissioned the construction of ‘The Taj’, desired to create it also as a symbol of solemnity, harmony, purity and spirituality as well.
The Taj is not merely a monument of grace and dignity alone. It is, in fact, a message to all mankind that “Pure love is the soul of life”.

 

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