The most beautiful building in the world. In 1631 the emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died in childbirth. The white marble mausoleum at Agra has become the monument of a man's love for a woman.
Shah Jahan came to power in 1622 when he seized the throne from his father, while murdering his brothers to ensure his claim to rule. He was known as an extravagant and cruel leader. But he redeemed himself by his generosity to his friends and the poor, by his passion in adorning India with some of its most beautiful architecture, and by his devotion to his wife Mumtaz Mahal - "Ornament of the Palace." He had married her when he was 21, when he already had two children by an earlier consort. Mumtaz gave her husband 14 children in eighteen years, and died at the age of 39 during the birth of the final child. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a monument to her memory and her fertility, but then relapsed into a life of scandalous behavior. This tomb was only one of hundreds of beautiful buildings that Shah Jahan erected, mostly at Agra and in the new Dehli that came into being under his planning.
History of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal in Agra India is considered one of the best examples of Mughal architecture in India. The history of the Taj Mahal is one of the great love stories of the world.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ruled from 1628 to 1658 and was married to Arjumand Bano Begum in 1612 A.D. He called his wife Mumtaz Mahal or Crown of the Palace, because she was so precious to him. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan had 14 children and the queen accompanied Shah Jahan everywhere, even on military campaigns. It was on one of these campaigns, in Burhanpur in central India, that Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631, shortly after giving birth to her 14th child. Her dying wish to Shah Jahan was that he should "build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before." The history of the Taj Mahal begins with Mumtaz Mahal's tragic end.
Shah Jahan fulfilled her wish, creating the most beautiful mausoleum the world had ever seen. Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb. He spent the last years of his life under house arrest in the Agra Fort. He used to spend his time looking across the Yamuna River at the beautiful tomb he had built for his beloved empress, waiting for the day they could be united again. After Shah Jahan's death in 1666 A.D., he too was laid to rest beside his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. Their real tombs are in a basement of the Taj Mahal. The two ornately decorated tombs on the ground floor, sheltered by the dome of the Taj Mahal are part of the stylistic design of this beautiful monument in Agra India. The history of the Taj Mahal is the history of the steadfast love of a Mughal Emperor for his Queen.
It took 22 years for the Taj Mahal to be completed. A huge labor force of 20,000 workers led by Muhammed Hanif, the head of the masons and the Persian architect Ustad Isa or Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, were employed in its construction. Finished in 1648, the Taj Mahal cost the Mughal exchequer 32 million rupees. The Taj Mahal has been described by the poet Sir Edwin Arnold, as" Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones."
Later, the mausoleum was provided with luxuriant furnishings. Persian carpets and gold lamps embellished the interior of the Taj. Two silver gates, that were set up at the entrance, were taken away by Suraj Mal in 1764. Amir Husein Ali Khan looted the sheet of pearls that covered the stone coffins.
It is said, that after the completion of the construction, when emperor Shah Jahan viewed the Taj, he ordered his men to cut off the right hand of the master architect Ustad Isa, so the later may not be able to erect such a stately and imposing edifice again in his life. There's another legend that says Shah Jahan was contemplating to build yet another Taj Mahal across the river in black marble.
Agra Fort is among the finest examples of the fusion architecture that has dominated the Mogul period. The assimilation of these different styles has given the buildings within the fort a distinctive look. To name a few, for example, the Jahangir Palace built by Akbar is the most magnificent blend of Persian and local style where as Divan-e-Aam mixes subtleness of Turkish exteriors with the complex pattern of Persian architecture. Other buildings within the premises of Agra Fort either have a mixed style or conform predominantly to the Islamic style. Some of the important buildings inside the Agra Fort include Jahangir Mahal, Divan-e-Aam, Divan-e-Khash, Khas Mahal, Anguri Bagh, Musamman Burj, Moti Masjid, Mina Masjid and Shish Mahal among others.
Emperor Akbar the Great commissioned the Agra Fort that is also sometimes called Red Fort of Agra. During the reign of emperor Jahangir, the capital was briefly shifted to Lahore but Agra became the seat of Mughal capital one again in the reign of Akbar. Akbar became emperor in 1556 and when he consolidated himself sufficiently, he started the construction of Agra Fort in the year 1665. The fort was completed in the year 1671 but minor constructions and additions kept on happening till the reign of Shah Jahan, his grandson. It is interesting to note that during the reign of Akbar, the fort mainly served as a military garrison but by the time of Shah Jahan it also started serving as a palace and court.
Itmad-ud-daula has a special place in the chronicles of both history as well as architecture. This is precisely because Itmad ud Daula is the very first tomb in India that is entirely made out of Marble. This is actually a mausoleum that overlooks the River Yamuna and is a tomb of Mir Ghiyas Beg, a minister in the court of Shah Jahan.
Itmad-ud-daula is a pure white and elaborately carved tomb that conforms to the Islamic style of architecture. The Indo-Islamic architecture becomes prominent because of the fusion that this tomb displays. While the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers signify the Persian influence, the absence of a dome and the presence of a closed kiosk on top of this building and the use of canopies talks about the possible Indian influence. From out side, when you take a bird eye view, Itmad-ud-daula looks like a jewel box set in a garden. This tranquil, small, garden located on the banks of the Yamuna was to inspire the construction of the Taj Mahal in the later years.