The Taj Mahal is the most famous mausoleum in the world that symbolizes the love of Shah Jahan’s for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The white marble mausoleum is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra, India.
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Work on the Taj Mahal started in 1632 and the main mausoleum was completed in 1648. The design of the Taj Mahal is heavily influenced by Turkish, Indian and Persian architecture. A committee of architects led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri designed the Taj Mahal. The main building in the Taj Mahal complex is the square building that contains the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The building is topped by a large dome and there are four minarets around the tomb. The structures of the Taj Mahal are decorated with intricate carvings, stone work, stucco and calligraphy. Passages from the Holy Quran are embedded in the walls of the Taj Mahal.
The land where the Taj Mahal is built originally belonged to Maharajah Jai Singh. Shah Jahan exchanged this land with the king. Material from all over India and Asia was used. 28 precious/semi-precious stones were used in the Taj Mahal. The white marble was quarried in Makrana, Rajasthan, Crystal and Jade came from China, Torquoise from Tibet, Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Jasper was brought from Punjab. Over 20,000 skilled craftsmen and laborers worked on the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan was a skilled military commander and a patron of the arts. Shah Jahan became engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum in 1607 CE, at the age of fifteen. He rechristened her Mumtaz Mahal meaning Jewel of the palace. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal were married on May 10, 1612; and Mumtaz Mahal became Shah Jahan’s third wife. Mumtaz Mahal was born in Agra into the family of a Persian nobleman. She was the niece of Nur Jehan who was married to Shah Jahan’s father Emperor Jahangir.
There was a strong and deep bond between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal often accompanied Shah Jahan on his military campaigns. They had 14 children of which seven died during birth or young age. Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631, during the birth of their 14th child. Her death deeply affected Shah Jahan.
During Shah Jahan’s tenure, Mughal art and architecture was at its zenith. In addition to the Taj Mahal, other famous monuments constructed by Shah Jahan are Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Lahore Fort and Jahangir’s mausoleum. Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangeb, over threw him in 1658 and kept him imprisoned for the next 8 years till his death in 1666.