Island News

Taj Mahal – In the name of love

Written By : SHRATIKA NAIDU. Thousands of people from different parts of the world travel to Agra in India each day to see the beautiful Taj Mahal and to find
04 Feb 2011 12:00

image Written By : SHRATIKA NAIDU. Thousands of people from different parts of the world travel to Agra in India each day to see the beautiful Taj Mahal and to find the true story behind it.
The Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world and some western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed.
The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. It is built entirely of white marble and it seems to glow in the light of the full moon.
On a foggy morning, visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Jamuna River.
Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset.
No doubt many tourists and visitors make time to visit Taj Mahal during their stay in India.
Agra is 204 kilometres from the capital, Delhi.
Ground transportation from Delhi to Agra takes approximately four hours. Taxis and busses are available from Delhi to Agra. Travelling by bus is always more economical than train and aircrafts.
There are many tour guides at the entrance of the Taj Mahal willing to tell visitors about its history and construction.
A group of journalists from different parts of the world who attended the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas were taken on a tour to Agra by the officials of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs after the conference. I was among them.
For most of us it was a dream come true, a lifetime memory and we all agreed that one should make an effort to visit the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal was built by a Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dear wife Queen Mumtaz Mahal.
It is an elegy in marble or some say an expression of a dream.
Taj Mahal meaning ‘Crown Palace’ is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of Queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber.
The grave of Shah Jahan was added to it later. The Queen’s real name was Arjumand Banu.
In the tradition of the Mughals, important ladies of the royal family were given another name at their marriage or at some other significant event in their lives.
That new name is commonly used by the public.
Shah Jahan’s real name was Shahab-ud-din and he was known as Prince Khurram before ascending to the throne in 1628.
History says that Shah Jahan met Mumtaz Mahal and they were deeply in love.
He married her after five years and they were living a very happy life.
While giving birth to their last child, Mumtaz Mahal died from some complications.
A few years later Shah Jahan built the world’s most beautiful monument ‘Taj Mahal’ in the memory of his wife.
Taj Mahal was constructed over 22 years, employing 20,000 workers. It was completed in 1653 at a cost of 32 million rupees.
The construction documents showed that its master architect was Ustad Isa, the renowned Islamic architect of his time.
The documents contained names of those employed and the inventory of construction materials and their origin.
Expert craftsmen from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed.
In addition, many renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on many specialised tasks.
The Taj stands on a raised, square platform 186 by 186 feet with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon.
The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure.
It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and symmetry of architectural elements.
Its central dome is 58 feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet.
It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers.
The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each.
The entire mausoleum, inside as well as outside is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper.
The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Quran and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty.
The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.
The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque to the left, a guest house to the right and several other palatial buildings.
The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it.
The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center.
Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections.
Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.

*Ms Shratika Naidu is our reporter based in Labasa.
She was invited by the High Commission of India to
attend this year’s Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in India.

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