Taj Mahal Architecture

Entrance through the Great Gate into the Taj Mahal
Photo by: Srikeit, Creative Commons

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It is world famous as a testament to the love of an Emperor to his wife. Emperor Shah Jahan built this monument of love to his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631. The construction of the Taj Mahal took twenty years to complete.

Five Sections

• Moonlight garden which lies north of the river Yamuna.

• River front terrace which contains the Mausoleum, Mosque and Jawab.

• Pavilions of the Charbagh garden.

• The Jilaukhana which was built as the accommodation of the tomb attendants as well as two subsidiary tombs.

• The Taj Ganji, which was originally a market place and only traces of it are still in existence.

The entrance known as the Great Gate is located between the Jilaukhana and the Garden. The entire Taj Mahal complex was reputedly built by Shah Jahan to resemble facets of paradise. The gate is the symbolic transition point between the worldly and spiritual realm, denoted by the paradise garden, mosque and mausoleum.

For construction of the Taj, the finest materials were sourced from all over India and Asia. The best of artisans, master builders etc. were employed. The Emperor spared no expense to see that the Taj was a magnificent edifice, worthy of his love.

Main Components

Mausoleum – It is a symmetrical shaped white marble tomb. It has a cubic building with chamfered corners and arches. It is topped by a large dome. It comprises four floors and the basement contains the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. The ground floor contains exact replicas of the tombs below.

Cenotaphs – The inner chamber of the Taj contains the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. It is a masterpiece of craftsmanship never paralleled anywhere else. The inner chamber is octagonal in shape and the cenotaphs are surrounded by marble lattice work. The cenotaphs contain fine calligraphic inscriptions and made to resemble the garden of paradise with inlays of flowers, plants, arabesques etc. The lower chambers, where they are actually buried, have two cenotaphs, but as per Islamic tradition, they are relatively plain.

Dome – It is the most spectacular feature. It has a height of about 35 meters. The tomb is topped by gilded finial using Islamic and Hindu designs.

Minarets – At the corners of the base plinth are located four minarets on each corner. They stand more than 40 meters tall. They lean slightly outward, as a safety precaution in the event of collapse; they would not damage the main building.

The Jawab and Mosque – On either side of the mausoleum are two identical buildings. On the western side is the Mosque and to the east lies the Jawab. The Jawab was constructed to maintain the symmetry of the complex. It used to accommodate important guests and visitors.

The Gardens – It is divided into four parts and gives an added beauty to the entire complex. It has pools and well laid out avenues of trees and flower beds. It has a raised marble water tank called the “Tank of Abundance”.

The Taj Mahal is a wonder of the world. The Taj Mahal architecture which consists of intricate inlays of semi precious stones, exquisite calligraphy, eye catching symmetry, the purity of white marble etc., and has drawn countless visitors from all over the world. Visiting the Taj Mahal complex is an experience of a lifetime and viewing the Taj by moonlight, is to have visited paradise on earth.

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