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Epitome of love

Taj Mahal: Wonder in marble. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Taj Mahal: Wonder in marble. Photo: V.V. Krishnan  

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The Taj Mahal was built in 1648 by Shah Jehan as a memorial to his wife. Today, it is listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, lost his wife Mumtaz Mahal on June 17, 1631. He was inconsolable and envisaged a memorial that would befit his love.

Today, the Taj Mahal is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. But, this magnificent white marbled mausoleum has its own story to tell. It is the final resting place of Arjuman Banu, also know as Mumtaz Mahal.

Born on April 6, 1593, Mumtaz Mahal was the daughter of Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, a Persian nobleman and the niece of the Empress Nur Jehan. When she was 14, she was engaged to marry Prince Khurram, also known as Shah Jahan. They were married in 1612.

Mumtaz Mahal travelled with Shah Jehan and even accompanied him on his military campaigns. Shah Jehan trusted her and gave her his Imperial Seat — the Muhr Uzah. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan had 14 children, including Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Roshnara Begum, Jahanara Begum and Aurangzeb.

Grief and sadness

On June 17, 1631 while she was giving birth to their 14 child, she died. Her body was buried in a walled garden in Burhanpur, on the banks of the Tapti.

Shah Jehan was devastated by her death. He went into mourning that lasted a year. When he returned, his hair had turned white and his face was ravaged with grief and sadness.

He had her body exhumed and taken back to Agra in a golden coffin, escorted by their son Shah Shuja. In Agra, her body was buried in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna.

Shah Jehan now began planning a royal mausoleum for his wife.

The construction of the mausoleum began in 1632 and was completed in 1648. This tomb is made of white marble and is a showpiece of Mughal architecture. It is supposed to represent Shah Jehan’s vision of Mumtaz Mahal’s home in paradise. The architecture of the Taj Mahal combines elements of Islamic, Indian, Persian, Ottoman and Turkish styles of art. The principal architect of the Taj Mahal was Ahmed Shah Lahauri and thousands of artisans and craftsmen were employed during the construction of this monument.

Material from all over India and Asia were used to construct the Taj Mahal and over 1,000 elephants were used to carry building material. The white marble was sourced from Makrana in Rajasthan, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, jade and crystal from China and sapphire from Sri Lanka and Arabia.

It is believed that the Taj Mahal was constructed in such a way that the white marble reflects the sky. So, the monument changes its colours during the day. Early morning the Taj appears pinkish, milky white at noon, a sparkling golden at sunset and shimmering silver in the moonlight.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 9:00:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/Epitome-of-love/article14424002.ece

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