Main Gate to the Taj Mahal
Standing 93 feet tall and 150 feet wide, the main gate of the Taj Mahal is an impressive sight to behold. Comprised of red sandstone, the gate is most impressive around dawn and dusk. Each aspect of the Taj Mahal entrance is a wonder in its own right. The whole effect of decorations and design is much greater than the sum of its parts.
The entrance gate of the Taj Mahal is a marriage of Islamic and Hindu cultures. Though Islam takes the forefront in design, the decorations pay homage to Hindu influence. There remains some mystery to the architecture, despite the structure's prominence. Complex hallways and rooms fill the inside of the gate. Experts believe that they exist to confuse visitors, but the true purpose is unknown. These rooms are still unused after three centuries.
Incredible detail work on the gate speaks volumes to the importance of the structure. Marble inlaid with semi-precious gemstones hint at the Hindu motifs. A white teardrop with a red trident adorns the tip of the front arch, surrounded by lotus flowers and vines. It is worthwhile for Muslim visitors to take note of the Taj Mahal entrance optical illusion at work under the arch. The surfaces inside contain lettering from the Quran in intricate black stone calligraphy. Standing inside, each letter looks the same size as the next despite the curvature.
Octagonal towers with open pavilions top each corner. These towers, along with the beautiful decorations, draw the eye upwards. Each tower includes a heavy door made from eight different metals and open pavilion. As a visitor approaches, the Taj Mahal main building disappears from view. While standing in the open square before this building, the main building is all but forgotten for the splendor of the gate.
The ultimate effect of the gate is to transition a visitor from outside to in. But there is a metaphorical context to this transition. As the main buildings of the Taj Majal include a mausoleum and mosque, this transition is as much spiritual as physical. Taken in by the size and beauty of the main gate, a visitor may not notice that that main buildings have disappeared from view. Moving through the gate, the buildings reappear and fill the doorway to the grounds. This effect gives the impression that you have left the corporeal world behind.
Artful transitions and interplay of motifs make the Taj Mahal deserving of the moniker "wonder." Near perfect symmetry, lavish materials, and incredible details make this structure unmissable. Regardless of faith, the artisan nature of each aspect of the gate strikes at a human cord within us all. Marking the division of the physical and spiritual planes while combining them together again is just one of the many reasons this building has left a lasting impression on the world.