Image courtesy: Steven Zwerink.
Taj Mahal, ever since its construction in the 16th century, has remained the center of attention. Known as the ‘monument of love’, there are several stories that revolve around the monument. While some of the stories are well-known among people, there are a few untold, unknown things about the Taj Mahal that add to its historical significance. This article attempts to talk about the unknown facts of the Taj Mahal.
1. Time and Cost
There are many rumors surrounding the time taken for building the masterpiece that we now refer to as the Taj Mahal. The construction began after the death of Mumtaz in 1632 and took approximately 22 years to complete. By 1653, the Taj was ready and had cost, what was then accounted for $32 million worth of resource, close to $1 billion now.
- Elephants were used for transporting the required construction material
- 22,000 people were involved in the construction
2. The Man Behind The Scenes
Many may recognize and associate the Taj with Shah Jahan and his love for Mumtaz, but only a few know about the person behind the construction. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri was the chief architect involved in the construction of the monument. He was the sole person responsible for over 22,000 workers and 1000 elephants.
- Ahmad Lahauri was also involved in another famous monument i.e. the Red Fort at Delhi
- Mir Abd-ul Karim and Makramat Khan were assigned as second supervisors
3. The Calligraphy
There are holy inscriptions, mesmerizing patterns, and words of praise all over the Taj Mahal. The words all praise Mumtaz’s beauty and the holy inscriptions are 99 names of Allah, an equivalent comparison to paradise for Mumtaz through the eyes of Shah Jahan.
- The architecture of the Taj Mahal was inspired by cross-culture Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture.
- The patterns were the jali lattice design style
4. After effects
After the death of Mumtaz in 1631, Shah Jahan was devastated and within just a few months the after-effects began to show on his body. His hair and facial hair turned white and the impact of the death was evident. Shah Jahan held Mumtaz very dear and regarded her as his most precious.
- Mumtaz died during labor in 1631
- The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, a few months after her death
5. The (gem)stone
Made out of white marble, this beauty has red stone walls on three sides. The marble was ordered from different parts of India and beyond, with being best in quality. The material involved in erecting the monument cost a massive portion of the cost involved.
- Around 28 different types of precious gemstones were used along with marbles and red stone
- Tilai (goldstone), Ajuba, and Zahar-mohra were the precious gemstones used in construction
6. The Colors
If you thought the Taj Mahal retains the color of pearls all through the day, you might want to rethink that. Changing colors with the time of the day, the Taj switches from a pinkish hue in the mornings, to its true color i.e. pearl-ish white in the day, and then turns bronze-ish golden in the moonlight.
- The bronze-golden color can be captured on a full moon night in all its brilliance
- Some say the different colors represent the many moods of a woman, specifically, Mumtaz
7. In the Line of Fire
The Taj Mahal was damaged during the rebellion of 1857. While the garden was harmed badly in the mishap, a few stones from the pillars were damaged in the process. The repair process for the Taj and the garden were ordered for by Lord Curzon. What we see today is the renovated structure.
- A chandelier was gifted by Lord Curzon, installed upon his request
- Battle of Agra – learn more about it
8. Perfectly Symmetrical
The Taj Mahal is a symmetrical monument in almost every aspect for the naked eye. The monument forms a perfect mirror image in the pond right in front. However, the two tombs inside are not exactly equal. This intentional flaw by the architect was because he wanted the male tomb to be larger than the female tomb.
- Even thought this thought wasn’t progressive, it was a belief that a taller male figure would always cast his shadow and protect the female figure
- Asymmetry in Taj – small asymmetry, but totally ignorable…just enjoy the experience of the visit.
9. The Many Myths About Taj Mahal
Among all the myths that surround the Taj, the one that is circulated the most is the myth about the workers. The Emperor Shah Jahan, in an attempt to prevent any duplication of a beauty like the Taj, had the thumbs of the workers chopped off. This isn’t true and has no evidence to back it. Think about it, 22,000 workers, 44,000 severed thumbs! Not an auspicious inauguration.
- Another myth of a black Taj Mahal being the primary idea for creating the Taj by Shah Jahan is also false
- Taj Mahal or Tejo Mahalaya?
10. Echo For All Eternity?
Even though the Taj Mahal is one of the most privileged sites to visit, a wonder of the world itself, it battles to remain glorious. With pollution all around and acid rains occurring frequently, the color of the Taj is turning yellow and with ash deposits, it is losing out on all its beauty.
- The Yamuna is also running dry and follows a polluted stream
- With pollution on the rise as resources get used up, its an important question to ask, will Taj Mahal echo for all eternity?
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