Taj Mahal at Agra, India is an incredible ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. It is one of the
Here is a list of some amazing facts about Taj Mahal which will make you speechless.
Fact #1 Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Taj Mahal – the Symbol of love was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. She was Shah Jahan’s fourth wife and he was madly in love with her. Mumtaz Mahal’s real name was Arjumand Banu Begum. Shah Jahan gave her the title of Mumtaz Mahal meaning the “the chosen one of the palace”
Mumtaz Mahal died when she was giving birth to their fourteenth child at the age of 37 due to excessive blood loss. She remained in painful labour for 30 hours before she died.
Shah Jahan at her deathbed promised her that he would build her a magnificent tomb world has ever seen. She was initially buried in Burhanpur in 1631 AD, in a walled garden called Zainabad. Her body was later exhumed and transported in a gold casket back to Agra and buried in a small building on the banks of river Yamuna.
Shah Jahan was so shattered with the sad demise of her dearest wife Mumtaz Mahal that he isolated himself from everything and kept on mourning for almost a year. His daughter Jahanara Begum gradually brought him out of distress and when he came back, all his hairs had turned white and his face looked too old.
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Fact #2 Architecture of the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal means Crown of Palaces and it is not a just masterpiece of architecture; it is a wonder of wonders in the world. In Badshahnama (History of Shah Jahan reign), it is called rauza-i munawwara which means illustrious tomb.
Ustad Ahmed Lahauri an Indian of Persian descent was the chief architect of Taj Mahal. Its architecture is a blend of Mughal, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
The tomb is the main attraction and focus of the entire complex . The tomb is surrounded by four smaller domes and four minarets at the corner. Minarets are constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that they will fall away from the tomb in case of an earthquake or any natural calamity.
Verses from Quran were inscribed in calligraphy throughout the Taj Mahal’s complex. The calligraphy on the entrance gate reads, “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.”
Inside the mausoleum, there is a false tomb of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan.in an octagonal marble chamber. As per Islamic traditions, it is prohibited to decorate the graves. That is why last remains of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan were kept in a plain crypt under the chamber with their faces turned towards Mecca.
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Facts #3 Construction of the Taj Mahal
In 1632, construction of Taj Mahal was started and it is believed that the entire complex was completely built in 1653. The plinth and Mausoleum took almost 12 years to complete and it took almost another 10 years to complete minarets, mosques and gateway.
To construct Taj Mahal, building materials were brought from all parts of India and Asia. Marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan. 28 types of different precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid in the white marble.
The Jasper came from Punjab, jade and crystal were from China, the turquoise from Tibet, the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, the sapphire from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia.
To transport construction material 1000 elephants were used. 20,000 artisans, craftsmen and labourers were employed to build this magnificent mausoleum.
It is estimated that 32 million Indian rupees were spent to construct it, which would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million)
Fact #4 Damaged during Wars
Taj Mahal was badly damaged and looted during early 18th century by Jat rulers of Bharatpur. Raja Ram Jat invaded Agra and plundered Akbar’s tomb and Taj Mahal. They ransacked and looted gold, jewels, precious stones and destroyed other things to avenge the death of his father Gokula.
During the first war of Indian Independence 1857, it was again badly vandalized and defaced by British soldiers. They chiselled out precious and semi-precious stones from its walls.
Lord Curzon ordered the much need restoration of the Taj Mahal which had lost its glory and grandeur during these attacks and wars.
Taj Mahal’s lush green gardens were also remodelled as per British-style lawns. He also installed a large lamp in the inner chamber, modelled after Cairo mosque.
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Fact #5 Myths about Taj Mahal
There are several myths about Taj Mahal and one of the most common is that Shah Jahan copped off the hands of the architects, craftsmen and workers, after completion of Taj Mahal, so that they couldn’t make a similar building. No evidence to such stories or claims has been found.
There is also another story that claims that Shah Jahan planned to build a black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River. But again this story has no evidence and such idea originated from the imaginative stories of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. He was a European writer who visited Agra in 1665.
There is another myth that says that Lord William Bentinck in the 1830s planned to demolish it and auction its marble. This story probably generated from Lord Bentick’s fundraising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort
Fact #6 Wars
During Second World War British government erected scaffoldings and false structure around Taj Mahal to mislead Japanese Air Force attack.
Similar false structures were erected by Indian government during 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan.
Fact #7 Different moods
Taj Mahal is a spectacular piece of artwork and a symbol of love and affection. You will be amazed to know that it changes different colours during the different times of the day, from pink in the morning, milky which in the evening and golden at night under the moon.
It is said that changing colours bear a resemblance to the changing moods of a female in particular to Mumtaz Mahal.
Facts #8 Taj Mahal Replicas
Taj Mahal is an iconic architectural masterpiece has inspired many replicas in India and around the world.
Bibi ka Maqbara (Tomb of the lady) build by Shah Jahan’s grandson Muhammad Azam Shah, in Aurangabad, Maharashtra resembles a lot with original Taj Mahal. In fact, it is also called Taj of the Deccan. He built it in the memory of his mother Dilras Banu Begum.
Shahzadi Ka Maqbara, in Chota Imambara, is also a small scale copy of Taj Mahal. It is the tomb of Princess Zinat Algiya, daughter of King Mohammad Ali Shah Bahadur third king of Awadh.
A Bangladeshi filmmaker constructed a replica of the Taj Mahal in 2008 at a cost of US $56 million. It took five years to complete the replica with all modern equipment and technology.
China also has a replica of the Taj Mahal in the Window of the world theme park in Shenzhen.
Malaysia also has a Mini Taj Mahal in Legoland Malaysia Resort in Nusajaya, Johor.
Taj Arabia, a Taj Mahal inspired luxury hotel and shopping complex is under construction in Dubai. It is said that it will be four times bigger the size of the Taj Mahal and will cost an estimated US $1 billion.
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Fact #9 P.N. Oak
P.N Oak an Indian writer claims that Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva Temple and a Rajput Palace named Tejo Mahalaya. He in his book Taj Mahal: The True Story claims that Shah Jahan seized it and converted it into a tomb. He appealed in the court and Supreme Court of India rejected his appeal to give credit for construction of Taj Mahal to 12th-century Hindu king Raja Parmar Dev.
Sociologist Amarnath Mishra also approached Allahabad high court on the same grounds but his appeal was also rejected.
Fact #10 Pollutions ill effect on Taj Mahal
Environment pollution has caused a tremendous amount of damage to the Taj Mahal. It is turning yellow day by day. Acid rains due to Mathura oil refinery, pollution on the bank of river Yamuna are very serious concerns.
Moreover declining of groundwater level of Yamuna River basin is a very major concern as it could disturb and erode the foundation of the Taj Mahal and it is declining at an alarming rate of 5 feet every year. Thus, raising concerns that structure may crumble if the proper countermeasure were not taken soon.
The government of India has taken several measures for its safeguard. Polluting traffic is strictly prohibited from coming within 500 meters of the complex and tourist must walk from the parking lots or can take electric buses. Moreover, Taj Trapezium Zone is set up under which strict emission standards and regulations have been set around an area of 10,400 sq km around Taj Mahal.
It is our priceless enduring legacy and it must be preserved at any cost.
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Some more interesting facts about Taj Mahal
- Other two wives of Shah Jahan and even his favourite servant were buried in the tomb outside of the Taj Mahal.
- Grammy Award winner Henry Saint Clair Fredericks uses Taj Mahal as his stage name. He is an American blues musician, a self-taught singer-songwriter and a film composer.
- PC SOrkar Jr. Famous Indian magician disappeared Taj Mahal for two minutes. He created a perfect optical illusion in front of a huge audience on 6 November 2000.
- In 1983 it was nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the seven wonders of the world
- The main gate of the Taj Mahal provides a very interesting optical illusion for the tourists, as one move towards it from the main gate, the main tomb appears to moves away from you.
- Shah Jehan’s daughter Jahanara Begum asked for a simple grave covered over with grass only and refused to have a mausoleum-like Taj Mahal
- The Taj Mahal is taller than Qutub Minar.
- The height of Taj Mahal is 73 meters while Qutab Minar is 72.5 meters only.
- Another bizarre fact about Taj Mahal which is hard to believe but it really happened. Notorious Indian con man Natwar Lal sold Taj Mahal three times to wealthy foreign tourist. He even sold Red Fort, Rashtrapati Bhavan and also the Parliament House of India along with its 545 sitting members.
- Shah Jahan was put under house arrest by his son, Aurangzeb in 1658. For the last eight years of his life, he was just able to view Taj Mahal from his window.