The ‘Taj Mahal’ represents the finest and most sophisticated example of Mughal architecture. Its origins lie in the moving circumstances of its commission and the culture and history of an Islamic Mughal empire’s rule of large parts of India. The distraught Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the mausoleum upon the death of his favorite wifeMumtaz Mahal.
Today it is one of the most famous and recognisable buildings in the world and while the tanish colored enormous building in sight, domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar part of the monument, the Taj Mahal is an extensive complex of buildings and gardens that extends over 22.44 hectares (55.5 acres) and includes subsidiary tombs, waterworks infrastructure, the small town of ‘Taj Ganji’ to the south and a ‘moonlight garden’ to the north of the river. Construction began in 1632 AD, (1041 AH), on the south bank of the River Yamuna in Agra, and was substantially complete by 1648 AD (1058 AH). The design was conceived as both an earthly replica of the house of Mumtaz in paradise and an instrument of propaganda for the emperor.
SOME FACTS ABOUT TAJ MAHAL
- It is estimated to have taken more than 22,000 people to build this impressive building including labourers, painters, stonecutters, embroidery artists, and many others.
- According to legend it is believed that Emperor Shah Jahan had planned to construct another Taj Mahal in black marble on the other side of the river but the war with his sons interrupted his plans.
- The Taj Mahal takes on different colouring at different times of the day, from a pinkish hue in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden at night when lit by the moon. They say the changing colour resembles the changing mood of females – in particular the Emperor’s queen.
- Built in memory of the Emperors third and most favourite wife Mumtāz Mahal, the Taj Mahal took 17 years to be completed.
- It is said that the death so crushed the Emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white within just a few months.
- The four sides of the Taj Mahal are perfectly identical creating an astonishingly mirrored image on each side. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and symmetry of architectural elements.
- The Taj Mahal is surrounded by significant gardens and a number of other buildings including a mosque and guest houses which make up the 17 hectares of land within the complex walls.
- The full height of the Taj Mahal is 171 metres (561 feet).
- More than 1,000 elephants were employed to transport the construction materials used to build the Taj.
- Many precious stones were ripped off from its walls by the British during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
plan and elevation of the “TAJ MAHAL”
VASTU SHASTRA ANALYSIS OF TAJ MAHAL
1. In the North & North East of Taj Mahal, lies the River Yamuna
2. The river is flowing from west to east
3. The North is lower than the South.
4. There is open space on the East and North
5. The Tomb inside Taj Mahal creates an effect of a hole in the North & North East Direction, making the north lower than south.
6. The Bramsthan is empty for the entire complex
7. As per Vastu Norms the width of a building should equal its height and if we analyse one can see that its length and width are exactly the same as its height
TAJ MAHAL’s TIMBER FOUNDATION:
REASON FOR USING TIMBER FOUNDATION:
- According to Surveys and Studies carried out by ASI- Archaeological Survey of India, it is believed that ‘ebony’s wood’ was used in the construction of foundation and the reference to the same can be found in many books on historical monument.
- One more precise but extremely technical detail that was put to use in wooden foundation is that -“it is only the combined action of water and air present in environment that’s deteriorate the wood. Neither of them alone have the capacity enough to deteriorate wood by virtue of their action.
- Wooden part of foundation lies well below the river Yamuna and it is the secret that wood used therein is still have the necessary strength or bearing capacity to carry on the weight of Superstructure-Taj Mahal.
- If we talk w.r.t Hindu Science of Elements- Ebony is the only wood known to have Elemental Association with all the five elements-air, water,earth,fire and sky.
- Also, since Ebony has a very high density its easily sink in water.
The level of Yamuna goes down in these years causing threat to the base of Taj Mahal because without consant flow of water Ebony wood shrinks causing cracks in the main building. So. it is high time to protect the Taj from this new type of threat.
MATERIAL USED TO CONSTRUCT TAJ MAHAL
MAKRANA MARBLE, RAJASTHAN
JASPER FROM PUNJAB
JADE FROM CHINA
The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. It is believed over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China.
Taj Mahal Main Gateway
No efforts have been spared to adorn them too, since they were to create the first impression on the visitors of the Taj. Standing on its corners are octagonal towers that are surmounted by broad and impressive open-domed kiosks. A series of eleven attached chhatris (translated as ‘umbrellas’) with marble cupolas were introduced for the first time and pinnacles on the north and the south sides above the central portal flank them. There is a heavy door made up of eight different metals at the base that are studded with knobs. The most notable feature are the countless rooms inside it which have twisting and branching and side branching hallways that were seemingly built to confuse its entrants but have been unused for three centuries. They are a mystery to experts who could not attach any specific purpose to them. Within its archway lies a huge chamber with a arched roof decoration.
The gateway is adorned with rich embellishments such as floral arabesques inlaid in white marble, made from precious gemstones, decorating the spandrels of the arches and especially the ingenious black marble inscriptions of Holy Quran that are exquisite examples of the expertise of Shah Jehan’s calligraphers. An optical illusion has been created here that the size of the lettering is consistent all over the arch from top to bottom. It was done by gradually increasing the size of the letters in a pre-calculated manner as their distance from the eye increased. This effect is used as successfully on the main doorway of the Taj itself.
A notable optical illusion comes into view as one sets his eyes on the beautiful tomb building of Taj while passing through the main gateway. It looks small and far away as if it was built in three-quarter scale and yet as one keeps moving towards the building, it seems to grow until it attains the mammoth proportions as one reaches its base. It makes one wonder whether the ever-expanding dome is being inflated slowly as one approaches it.