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You are standing at the most iconic destination in India; the Taj Mahal. The building, with
its white shining marble, is actually one of the most iconic destinations in the world.
The Taj Mahal has been voted into "the seven new wonders of the world"-list and is visited
by millions of people each year. While many think Taj Mahal refers to the white
marble mausoleum, the Taj Mahal is actually the whole structural complex. In order to enter
the Taj Mahal you pass through the gateway building which leads into the garden. The
raised marble water tank between the gatehouse and the mausoleum is called "al Hawd al-Kawthar",
in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad -- Prophet of Islam. In addition
to the mausoleum, Taj Mahal is made up of a mosque to the west and a mimic building
to the east. The eastern building's purpose was to provide architectural balance or possibly
serve as a guesthouse. Surrounding the main mausoleum stands four minarets. These were
used in traditional mosques to call Islamic faithful to prayer. While these towers were
designed as working minarets, they further displaying the designer's desire for perfect
symmetry. So what's the story behind this amazing place?
Why was it built and by who? The story behind Taj Mahal starts when the
Mughal emperor to be, Shan Jahan, met a Persian nobles daughter, Arjumand Banu. They quickly
fell in love and married five years later. By then, Shan Jahan already had two wives,
but Arjumand would become his favorite wife. When Shan Jahan became the emperor in 1628,
he bestowed her with the title "Mumtaz Mahal" -- meaning "Jewel of the Temple".
When Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child, in 1631, Shan Jahan was
devastated. Some say" The Taj", as it is sometimes referred to, was built as a last request from
his wife while others say it was simply a way to honor her. Either way, Shan Jahan gave
the order to build what would be one of the most magnificent tombs ever -- one certainly
worthy of his very own "Jewel of the Temple". One year after the death of his beloved wife,
the construction of the Taj Mahal began. The name Taj Mahal further shows the emperors
dedicating and love for his lost wife. "Taj" is a Hindu origin and means "crown" while
"Mahal" refers to the title he bestowed his wife. Thus, "Taj Mahal" translates to "The
Crown of Mahal", which is certainly a fitting name.
The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000
elephants were used to transport building materials. The work force was made up of over
20.000 men and Shan Jahan had the best sculptors, calligraphers and stonecutters from all over
asia and the middle east recruited in order to build the Taj Mahal. The main building
was completed 26 years later, in 1648, and the whole building complex as such 1953.
The Taj Mahal architecture combines styles from Persian, Indian and Islamic designs.
It is by many seen as the crown jewel of Muslim art in India. The dome, which has gotten the
nickname "the onion dome" due to its looks, stands 35 meters tall. The dome is crowned
by a bronze finial with Persian and Hindu decorative elements.
The calligraphy and the other decorative elements found on the outside of the main building
are some of the finest you can find. Much of the writing on the building is composed of varieties
of Islamic calligraphy scripts, made of jasper or black marble, inlaid in white marble panels.
The writings often have influence or are taken directly from passages in the Qur'an.
The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord
at peace with Him, and He at peace with you." Today, both Shan Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal rest
inside the main building. One might think their sarcophagi are in the main chamber,
but these are actually false graves. Their sarcophagi lie next to each other beneath
the inner chamber with their faces turned right and towards Mecca. Due to Muslim tradition
forbidding elaborate decoration of graves, their graves are relatively plain and simple,
in contrast to the tomb building surrounding them.
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◄ Taj Mahal, India [HD] ►

14227 Folder Collection
阿多賓 published on January 18, 2014    Matilde Wu translated    Mandy Lin reviewed
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