Taj Mahal History

The History behind the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a signing symbol of India’s rich history. It is one of the most celebrated historic structures in the world. Not only is the building beautiful, but it has a fascinating history. 

The Taj Mahal is located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India. Construction on the historic site began in 1632. At the time, Mughal emperor Shan Jahan ruled the land. He commissioned the building as a mausoleum for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shan Jahan loved Mumtaz, whom he married in 1612, the most out of his three wives. Unfortunately, she passed away during childbirth of their fourth child in 1631. Heartbroken, he wanted to construct her burial tomb to be as lovely as what he imagined her afterlife. 

The Construction 

Ustad Ahmed Lahauri led the architecture team that designed the Taj Mahal. It took twenty years to finish the entire project. The Taj Mahal was finished in 1648, but the mosque, guesthouses, southern gateway, courtyards and cloisters reached completion in 1653. 
The Taj Mahal is a marveling piece of architecture. The entire building is made of marble that came from a variety of areas including Rajasthan, Afghanistan, Tibet and China. Inlaid in the walls are 28 varieties of semi-precious stones such as jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise. The architect inscribed verses from the Quran along the entranceways, along with the 99 names of Allah on Mumtaz’s tomb. 
The building is perfectly symmetrical. The four minarets, or towers, are further away from the main structure. The formation would allow the towers to fall away from the tomb in case of a disaster such as an earthquake. 

The Tomb

Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb is one of the first examples of the historic raised tomb varieties. Her tomb lays in the perfect center of the tomb chamber, and it is inlaid with beautiful flower motifs. Shan Jaban’s bural site is next to his beloved wife. He was laid to rest there after his death in 1666. Shan’s tomb is higher than Mumtaz, according to tradition. 
Islamic traditions forbids the decorating of graves. Because of this, the actual crypts of Mumtaz and Shan Jahan, which lay under the inner chambers, are plain.

Interesting Facts about the History Taj Mahal

  • The construction took over 20,000 workers from a variety of regions.
  • 1,000 elephants helped transport the materials used during the construction.
  • The full height of the Taj Mahal is 561 feet.
  • The building appears to take on different hues depending on the time of day. For example, it often takes on a pink color during the early morning sunrise.
  • Over 3 million people visit this historic site each year.
  • The construction cost an estimated 32 million Indian rupees. This is equal to $1 billion today.
  • Shan Jahan planned to build a black Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the Yamuna River for himself. Unfortunately, Shan’s title as emperor was removed before he started construction.
  • The mosque is fully operating. Because of this, the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays and only those who are in customary prayer receive permission to enter.
  • During the final 8 years of Shan’s life, he was only able to view his beloved mausoleum from afar. He was under house arrest because his son had overthrown him when he fell gravely ill.
  • A common myth states that Shan Jahan ordered the hands of all the workers be cut off so that they could never work on another project. This is just a myth and holds no truth. The architect went on to work on other projects.
  • During times of war, the Taj Mahal has been camouflaged. In World War II, they hid the structure under scaffolding so that it would resemble a pile of bamboo from the sky.