The Taj

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 wife Mumtaz Mahal.



The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. The buildings are constructed with walls of brick and rubble inner cores faced with either marble or sandstone locked together with iron dowels and clamps. Some of the walls of the mausoleum are several metres thick. Over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials during the construction. The bricks were fired locally and the sandstone was quarried 28 miles (45 km) away near Fatehpur Sikri. The white marble was brought 250 miles (400 km) from quarries belonging to Raja Jai Singh in Makrana, Rajasthan. The Jasper was sourced from the Punjab and the Jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.  Jean-Baptiste Tavernier records that the scaffolding and centering for the arches was constructed entirely in brick. Legend says that the emperor offered these scaffolding bricks to anyone who would remove them and that at the end of the construction they were removed within a week. Modern scholars dispute this and consider it much more likely that the scaffolding was made of bamboo and materials were elevated by means of timber ramps.

Dimensional organisation

Element Metres Gaz
length / width / diameter breadth / depth / side height length / width / diameter breadth / depth / side height
Overall complex 896.1 300.84 1112.5 374
Overall preserved complex 561.2 300.84 696 374
Taj Ganji 334.9 300.84 416.5 374
Jilaukhana 165.1-165.23 123.51 204 153
Great gate 41.2 34 23.07 51 42 28.5
Charbagh 296.31 296.31 368 368
Riverfront terrace 300 111.89 8.7 373 138
Mausoleum 56.9 56.9 67.97 70 70 84
Minaret 5.65 43.02 7 53.5
Mosque 56.6 23.38 20.3 70 29 25-29
All dimensions from Koch, p. 258-259 credited to Richard André Barraud



A jali or jaali is the term for a perforated stone or latticed screen, usually with an ornamental

Early jali work was built by carving into stone, generally in geometric patterns, while later the Mughals used very finely carved plant-based designs, as at the Taj Mahal. They also often added pietra dura inlay to the surrounds, using marble and semi-precious stones.pattern constructed through the use of calligraphy and geometry. This form of architectural decoration is found in Indian architecture, Indo-Islamic Architecture and Islamic Architecture.

The jali helps in lowering the temperature by compressing the air through the holes. Also when the air passes through these openings, its velocity increases giving profound diffusion.

Details of marble Jali screens around royal cenotaphs, Taj Mahal



Primary source: WIKIPEDIA


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