Taj Mahal Architecture: A Synonym of Love; Myth and Reality
Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal is a symbol of everlasting love. Sitting among large, manicured gardens along the banks of Yamuna river in Agra, it is easily one of the most beautiful architectural landmarks in the world. For centuries, the Taj Mahal has captivated the hearts of millions who have visited it.
The legendary tale of the Taj Mahal is a story that most Indians and travelers know by heart. It is a story of enduring love between Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal and how this love in death brought into being one of the world’s seven wonders.
The Taj Mahal, often revered as an architectural masterpiece has a deep cultural background and a history that is steeped in myth and legend. It is not only India’s most recognisable monument, but also one of the architectural wonders of the world. Most of the tourist around the globe visit India, just to get a glimpse of the beauty of the exquisite architecture of this magnificent monument. People, who take time to observe the intricate details of the architecture, generally reach to the conclusion that it has been some great minds behind this incredible construction.
The design and construction of Taj Mahal was supervised by the court architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri in the mid-17th century. The architects and engineers used complex mathematical and scientific principles in the design and construction of the Taj Mahal. Simple machines and tools, such as an inclined plane, leveled the foundation while a pulley system lifted hundreds of thousands of tons of marble and ore and transport them from distant quarries.
The Taj Mahal was designed in a fusion of Arabic, Indian and Persian architectural styles. The dome and four pointed arches are classic Islamic structures while the four minarets are more Hindu. The grandeur is further enhanced by the symmetrical design of the complex, with the Taj Mahal flanked by two identical red sandstone buildings, the hammam and mosque. The most captivating feature of the Taj Mahal is its gleaming white marble walls and intricate inlaid marble artworks.
The finishing touch to the entire Taj Mahal structure was given by skilled craftsmen and artisans from Russia, Persia, India and Europe. Working with a wide range of colors, the intricate inlaid work includes flowers, latticework and calligraphy. Jade, crystal, coral and lapis lazuli stones were used to enhance the remarkable beauty of the Taj Mahal.
Mystery of Synthesis of Different Cultures
The Taj Mahal also embodies the great synthesis of Hindu and Muslim artistic styles. Its stunning beauty is the result of a successful combination of Indian, Persian and Islamic architectural styles. The central dome, the four tall minarets with balconies, the red sandstone mosques and the imposing main gateway are all typical Muslim elements while the hundreds of domes, pinnacles and minarets, decorated with Hindu-style brackets and cornices, along with the beauty of its gardens, are all typically Indian.
The Taj Mahal is a truly unique combination of the cultures that have influenced India over the centuries. Its fusion of Islamic, Persian and Indian features reflects the history and culture of the country, and its complexity and beauty enthrall visitors from all over the world.
The Symbol of Love: Myth or Reality?
The Taj Mahal is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable monuments in the world; it is a synonym of love, eternal and lasting symbol of love and devotion of Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. One of the most remarkable aspects is that, despite being around 400 years old, the Taj Mahal has almost retained the same beauty and architectural quality as the day it was built.
The mystery of the true intention of the Mughal emperor in building this great monument has been a topic of much debate and fascination for scholars for generations. Theories of historians have ranged from the propagandist – that the Taj Mahal was an ostentatious show of wealth and power used to demonstrate the Mughal might – to the cosmic, which suggest that the Taj Mahal was the expression of a giant mandala, reflective of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Legends and myths about the monument have been around for so long, that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction.
The Human and Natural Challenges
Conservation of Taj Mahal has also been a major issue since the beginning of the 20 century, when the monument was severely damaged due to environmental and man-made factors. The main human-induced threat to the Taj Mahal has been uncontrolled growth in the nearby Agra city, which is causing major pollution and water pollution. Increased pollution has caused discoloration and corrosion of the Taj Mahal’s magnificent white marble walls.
Various studies by UNESCO and other sources suggest that unregulated waste water, paint and dung burning, polishing and whitewashing activities around the monument, air pollution, noise and vibration all contribute to the corrosion and pollution of the Taj Mahal. While the government has taken various steps to reduce the pollution, the damage done to the monument can only be prevented by continued vigilance from all concerned.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic monuments of India and the world. Both the monument itself and its legends and myths, have inspired people for centuries. Its architecture exemplifies the beauty, grandeur and richness of Mughal and Indian art and culture. Conservation and preservation of this 400-year old monument from man-made and natural factors remain a challenge even today. Ultimately, it is up to all of us, who are fascinated and touched by the beauty of the Taj to continue to preserve and protect it and to keep its timeless appeal alive.