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Taj Mahal
A Tribute to Love

Taj Mahal
  • The Taj Mahal : a poem (by )
  • A Handbook to Agra and the Taj, Sikandra... (by )
  • The Mughal administration, six lectures (by )
  • Shah Jahan (by )
  • Essays on Indian Art, Industry & Educati... (by )
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When loved ones pass, spouses, family, and friends yearn to honor them. Traditionally, this may include having a tomb to visit or an urn filled with ashes following cremation. 

India’s Taj Mahal or “Crown of Palaces” in Agra is a funerary monument that was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It’s important to note that funerary monuments are intended for the living and may or may not contain the body or remains of the deceased.

Shah Jahan gave his beloved empress the title “Chosen One of the Palace.” One of three of his wives, Mumtaz was his favorite. She passed away in 1631 during the birth of their fourteenth child. 

An ivory-white marble structure is the central focus of the monument. The symmetrical building has an arch-shaped doorway topped by a large dome and finial. It’s embellished with a lotus design, a Hindu symbol of divine beauty and purity. A spacious reflecting pool surrounds the mausoleum. 

Mumtaz devoted lots of time to a riverside garden. Experts believe that her devotion to the garden inspired Shah Jahan to have the Taj Mahal built in her memory.

Many regard this funerary monument as the most quintessential example of Mughal architecture, which fuses elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic styles. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Taj Mahal attracts nearly three million visitors per year. 
Most of the Taj Mahal’s construction was completed in 1643. Approximately 20,000 artisans worked together to bring Shah Jahan’s concept to fruition. 

The first view of the Taj is from within this noble portal, framed by the somber shadow of the great arch which opens on to the garden. At the end of a long terrace, its gracious outline partly mirrored in the still water of a wide canal, a fairy vision of silver-white—like the spirit of purity—seems to rest so lightly, so tenderly, on the earth, as if in a moment it would soar into the sky. The beauty of the Taj, as in all great art, lies in its simplicity. (p. 79)

The Taj was meant to be feminine. The whole conception, and every line and detail of it, express the intention of the designers. It is Mumtaz Mahal herself, radiant in her youthful beauty, who still lingers on the banks of the shining Jumna, at early morn, in the glowing mid-day sun, or in the silver moonlight! (p. 22)

In The Taj Mahal: A Poem, Frank Cowan writes, 

The Taj Mahal! It is Too pure to be the work of human hands, The angels must have brought it from high heaven, And a glass case should be placed over it, To shield it from the faintest breath of air!—(Zoffany, A Russian.) (p. 7)

By Regina Molaro

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