The crowning jewel of Indo-Islamic architecture, the Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most beautiful and beloved structures. The monument was built in Agra, India, for Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Construction of the tomb began in 1632 and employed more than 20,000 laborers for 20 years. During the reign of Shah Jahan, the structure was known simply as the rauza, the tomb. Later, the mausoleum would be called the Taj Mahal, a derivative of the name Mumtaz Mahal… Taj Mahal Facts.
Known for its symmetry, the Taj Mahal sits on a raised platform surrounded by four minarets. Inside are delicate mosaic works and marble walls adorned with intricate patterns of inlaid precious stones. The emperor Shah Jahan is said to have celebrated the anniversary of his wife’s death in the mausoleum, kneeling before the cenotaph of white marble studded with gems and semiprecious stones, as prayers were offered up for the peace and repose of the empress’ soul.
More to the history there are 7 great facts I am sure you haven’t read in your textbooks; it’s time to explore those secrets about Taj Mahal.
1- Optical illusions
Where ever you go around Taj Mahal you will be all trapped in the magical world of illusion. When you first approach the main gate that frames the Taj, for example, the monument appears incredibly close and large. But as you get closer, it shrinks in size. And although the minarets surrounding the tomb look perfectly upright, the towers actually lean outward, which serves both form and function: in addition to providing aesthetic balance, the pillars would crumble away from the main crypt in a disaster like an earthquake.
2- Myth Of The Craftsmen and Artisans
According to a popular legend, to ensure no one could recreate the Taj Mahal’s beauty, Shah Jahan supposedly severed the hands and gouged the eyes of the artisans and craftsmen. Despite the prevalence of this gruesome tale, historians have found no evidence to support the story—though it does heighten the drama of the romantic tragedy.
3- Empty Cenotaphs
Inside the Taj Mahal, the cenotaphs honoring Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are enclosed in an eight-sided chamber ornamented with pietra dura (an inlay with semi-precious stones) and a marble lattice screen. But the gorgeous monuments are just for show: The real sarcophagi are in a quiet room below, at garden level.
4-The Taj Gets Renovation Too
Age and pollution has taken a toll on the Taj Mahal’s gleaming white marble façade, which has turned brownish-yellow under the sooty conditions. In order to maintain its gleaming and crystal whiteness Taj mahal occasionally given the therapy of multani mitti and white washing.
5-High On Hue
One mesmerizing thing about Taj Mahal is its constant changing hue. From dawn to dusk, the sun transforms the mausoleum from pearly gray to pale pink at sunrise, dazzling white at noon and an orange-bronze during sunset. In the evenings, the Taj can appear translucent blue. Special tickets are even sold for full moon and eclipse viewings
6-Second Taj Mahal in Black
A lot of people, locals and many literature made us to believe says that Shah Jahan wanted to construct a shadow image across the Yamuna River—an identical, but opposite Taj Mahal hewn from black marble—where he would be entombed. It was said that construction came to a halt after Shah Jahan was deposed by his son and imprisoned at the nearby Agra Fort. Some historians have dismissed this story as folklore, too.
7- Symbol Of Power As It Was Of Love
As per the historians are to be believed, Shah Jahan power centric ruler than a romanticist. For all its associations to devotion and ardor, the Taj was also a source of propaganda. The complex’s ordered symmetry symbolizes absolute power—the perfection of Mughal leadership. And its grand scale and extravagance (crystal, lapis lazuli, makrana marble, and turquoise) only brought glory to Shah Jahan’s reign.