Thursday, October 22, 2009

TAJ MAHAL

TAJ MAHAL


ताज महल


Taj Mahal is a Mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is located in Agra, Northern Uttar Pradesh, India. Taj Mahal (also knows as Taj) depicts the fine architecture work of the Mughals, which is a combination of elements of Persian, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. Taj mahal inspired all kinds of peoples like musicians, poets, lovers, architects. It is one of the Wonders of the World.

Taj is considered as Shrine of Love. Also described as Epitome of love, Symbol of Love as it depicts the love of Shah Jahan for Mumtaz.

Taj from banks of river Yamuna

In 1634, they started to work on this monument and continued for almost 22 years(ie in 1653). It is also said that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan chose the site in the city of Agra on the banks of the river Yamuna, such that it is clearly visible from his fort. In 1631 Shah Jahan was deeply affected by sorrows, after his third wife Mumtaj Mahal died during the birth of their fourteenth child. After one year of her death, ie on 1632, the construction work of Taj Mahal was started. Ustad Ahmed Lahauri of Persia was the chief designer of this great monument.

The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and gardens were finished 5 years later. More than 22 thousand labourers were involved in the construction work and over 1000 elephants were used for transportation purposes.




The Taj is enclosed in a garden amidst fountains and ornamental trees. The walled complex includes mosques, a rest room/guest house and an imposing gateway. The tomb is encased in white marble which is decorated with flawless sculptures and inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy cut from precious gems. Below the dome, in a dimly lit chamber, lie the mortal remains of Shahjahan and his beloved queen Mumtaz, which reminds the world of their undying love.

The White domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component.

Taj in full moonlight is considered to be the best view

The Taj views at different stages of a day inspired everyone. The silver light of the full moon shines upon the cool white dome of the Taj Mahal, softly glowing in the night air. The extreme magnificence and beauty of the Taj can be appreciated fully in the subtle moonlight. However, the radiance of dawn and the orange glow of sunset also give light to the splendor of this most beautiful monument of India. Even in the bright light of the day, this wonder of the world shines with an awe-inspiring loveliness.


View of Taj

Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1983. It is one of the universally admired masterpieces of world's heritage.

According to Islams, Taj Mahal represents the purest form of Islamic architecture. Taj is considered as the most perfect buildings the world had ever seen. Though Taj is intended to be a commemoration of the memory of Shah jahan's beloved wife Mumtaj, in reality, it is his gift to the entire human race.




HISTORY


Shah Jahan was fifth Mughal ruler, ruled in the period between 1628 to 1658. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian meaning "King of the World". He was third and favourite son of Emperor Jhangir. When he was born in 1592 in Lahore, he was named Prince Khurram Shihab-ud-din Muhammad. The name Khurram meaning "Persian for joyful" was given by his grandfather Akbar.

At the age of fifteen, Khurram was to marry Arjumand Banu Begum, the grand daughter of a Persian noble, who was 14 years old at the time. They would, however, have to wait five years before they were married in 1612, on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. After their wedding celebrations, Shah Jahan felt she is so precious to him and he gave her title Mumtaz Mahal which meant Jewel of the Palace. Mumtaz was Shah Jahan's third wife. Though he had many wives, he was very attached to Mumtaz compared to his other wives.

Mumtaz traveled with Shah Jahan's throughout his earlier military campaigns and the subsequent rebellion against his father. She was his constant companion and trusted confidant. Mumtaz died in Burhanpur in the Deccan (now in Madhya Pradesh) during the birth of their fourteenth child, a daughter named Gauhara Begum. Her body remained at Burhanpur for 23 years until the Taj was completed. After completion of Taj, her coffin was shifted to Taj Mahal. There was also some rumours like her last wish to the emperor was - a symbol or a monument to their love. She also asked her husband not to marry anyone. Shah Jahan as he promised built the Taj Mahal, which shows his love and affection towards her and a homage to her beauty and life.

Soon, after completion was Taj, Shah Jahan was dethorned by his son Aurangzeb and was put under house arrest at nearby Agra fort. He passed his last days viewing the Taj Mahal from Agra fort. After his death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife Mumtaz.


Now, the Taj Mahal stands as the ultimate monument to love.


Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.



An Aerial View of Taj



A View from satellite

Taj Mahal complex comprised of five major parts namely,
  • The Main Gateway(Darwaza-i-rauza)
  • The gardens(Bageecha)
  • The mosque (Masjid)
  • The rest house(Naqqar Khana)
  • The main mausoleum (Rauza)
1.The Main Gateway:
Period of Construction:1632-1638

The Gateway is in southern side, which is used as entrance to Taj. The gateway is 151 feet by 117 feet and rises to a height of 100 feet(30 feet). The archways of the gateway is similar to that of main dome archways and also contains calligraphy of verses from Quran. The small domed pavilions on top are in Hindu style and signify regality. A striking feature of the gateway is that the lettering appears to be of the same size. The engravers have skillfully enlarged and lengthened the letters which create an illusion of uniformity.

Tourists can enter the main compound by a small gate at the side of the main gate.

2. The Gardens:
The gardens are divided into 4 large sections and this open area of parks and waterways before the Taj Mahal is known as the charbagh (a formal Mughal garden divided into four parts) which is around 300 square meter. Charbagh is a Persian style garden layout.

View of gardens from main gateway


At the Center of the Charbagh is a Lotus Pond or a marble water tank. Taj is reflected in this pool. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar which means "Tank of Abundance".
The garden is divided in to four quadrants, with two marble canals studded with fountains crossing in the center and the stone-paved pathways divide these each four quadrants into 16 flowerbeds.

The garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains

The central path has fountains along its middle and cypress trees on either side. We can get clear view of Taj from any positions in Garden. The trees of the Taj garden are either that of Cyprus (signifying death) or of the fruit bearing type (signifying life) and even they are arranged in a symmetrical pattern.



3.The Mosque:
The Mosque is of red sandstone present in the western side of the Taj Mahal. It has four octagonal towers and 3 domes. It is used for prayer purposes, the mosque faces the direction of the holy city of Mecca. The mosque got 539 prayer carpets.

MOSQUE


4.The Rest House (Jawab):

The rest room(Naqqar Khana) built opposite side to mosque (Eastern side).

The Rest House is in Eastern part, it is also called as jawab (answer). Some believe that the rest house is built to have symmetrical view. The rest house is same like Mosque. The purpose of this rest house is never known yet. It is never used for prayer as it faces away from Mecca, the holy place of Muslims and it is also never used for guest house purpose.

Interior of Jawab




The difference between Mosque and Rest room is that- the mosque floor was laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs/carpets in black marble while the the floors of Rest Room have a geometric design.

5. The Main Mausoleum(Taj):
The entire mausoleum (interior as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious and semi precious gems.

The mausoleum itself was complete by 1643, but work continued on the rest of the complex.


The Taj Mahal is situated on a raised platform that is over 6 meters high. The main mausoleum contains the false Sarcophagus(Coffins) of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. The actual tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are in the basement below the platform. The underground chamber/crypt contains the actual remains of Shah Jahan and the crypt was plain and the faces of shah jahan and Mumtaz were turned towards right side, thus pointing the Mecca direction.
The caskets of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are decorated with gems and inscribed with calligraphy which list the 99 names of God.

The tombs of Shah Jahan (larger one)
and Mumtaz



The cenotaph of Mumtaz is incribed with - "Marqad Munavvar Arjumand Ban Begum Mukhatib bah Mumtaz Mahal Tanifiyat ferr sanh 1040 Hijri" (Here lies Arjumand Bano Begum called Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1040 A.H. or 1630 A.D.).

The cenotaph of Shah Jahan is inscribed in Persian - "Marqad Mutahar Aali Hazrat Firdaus Ashiyani Sahib-qiran Saani Saani Shah Jahan Badshah taab surah sanh 1076 Hijri" (The sacred sepulchre of his most exalted Majesty, dweller of Paradise, the second lord of constellations, the king Shah Jahan, may his mausoleum ever flourish, 1076 A.H. (1666 A.D.).

Another view of Tomb

The Tomb/Cenotaph of Shah jahan is bigger than his wife Mumtaz's tomb, and it was the asymmetric element in the entire taj. The cenotaph base and casket was decorated with precious and semi precious stones. The calligraphy in the tomb identifies and praises Mumtaz and Shah Jahan in their respective tomb. On the lid of this casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box. The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating men's and women's caskets respectively. 99 God names were found on the calligraphy of the caskets.







The entire complex of Taj Mahal measures 1,902 feet x 1,002 feet on each side. The entire structure of the Taj, rests on marble pieces of square platform which is of total length 186 feet by 186 feet and forms an unequal octagon due to the chamfer at the angles.Each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure.It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and a symmetry of architectural elements.
The entire site was leveled to a fixed height about 50 meters above the riverbank. The Taj Mahal is 180 feet tall. The dome itself measures 58 feet in diameter. Its height about 35 metre and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical "drum" of about 7 metre high. The four smaller domes or minarets surrounds it. The height of a minaret is 41.6 mt. The base in which Taj Mahal rests is called Mahajar-e-Mushababbak and it was designed by Turkish designers.

ONION DOMES & CHATTRIS The dome is made of white marbles and heights Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome (also called an amrud or guava dome). The top of the dome is decorated with a lotus design, which serves to accentuate its height. The dome is topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements.
The dome shape is emphasized by four smaller domed Chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners. The chattri domes replicate the onion shape of main dome. Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb, and provide light to the interior. The chattris also are topped by gilded finials.



The main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a copy made of gilded bronze in the early 19th century. This feature provides a clear example of integration of traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif whose horns point heavenward. Because of its placement on the main spire, the horns of the moon and the finial point combine to create a trident shape, reminiscent of traditional Hindu symbols of Shiva. FINIAL

MINARETSThe four minarets at each corner of the plinth provide a perfect balance to the tomb. The minarets measure 41.6 m high and each has a deliberate slant outwards so that in an unlikely event of an earthquake, they would not fall on the tomb but away from it.



Above the tombs is a Cairene lamp, the flame of which is supposed to never burn out. Marble screen of trellis work surrounds the graves. Both tombs are exquisitely inlaid with semi precious stones.

Screen Surrounding the Cenotaph

JALI SCREEN
This is Marble made Jali Screen, of trellis work, surrounds the Cenotaphs, which is inlaid with semi precious stones on surface.

Closer View of Jali Screen Works



Piecework in Jali Screen

Archway of Jali screen screen
Entrance to Cenotaphs

Closer view Inlay

Inlay(jali screen)



Carvings in Taj

Archway of Taj

Calligraphy Inscriptions:
The calligraphy is made by jasper inlaid in white marble panel






Due to Pollution, the taj is fading and losing its attraction day by day, especially the white dome structure fades due to air pollution and also due to negligence of authorities and people.

More recent threats have come from environmental pollution on the banks of River Yamuna including acid rain due to the Mathura oil refinery which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives. The India government hired a panel to examine the effects of the refinery on the Taj Mahal. The panel found that the air has high levels of suspended particulate matter, caused by factory emissions, dust, construction, and exhaust from automobiles. These are causing the Taj Mahal to change color. To help control the pollution, the Indian government has set up the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), a 10,400 square kilometer area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place.

Some Experts warns that the Taj Mahal is sinking as the nearby areas were drying. As a matter of concern the River Yamuna too trickles.








SOME FACTS

*Period of construction: 1632-1653(22 years).
*Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
*Number of workers involved: more than 20,000.
*Over 1000 elephants used.
*Total Estimated Cost: 32 million Rupees.

*Architects: Amanat Khan Shirazi was the calligrapher of Taj Mahal, his name occurs at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the Taj. Poet Ghyasuddin had designed the verses on the tombstone, while Ismail Khan Afridi of Turkey was the dome maker. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of Masons. The designer of Taj Mahal was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
*The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia.
*Architecture: Indo-Islamic; a blend of Indian and Persian.

*Highlights: One of the Seven Wonders of the World, UNESCO World Heritage Site(1983).

*Height of Taj Mahal: 180 feet(over 55 meter)
*Height of Dome: 44.41 meter (from base of drum to finial).
*Height of Minarets (smaller domes): 41.6 m.
*Gardens measuring 300 x 300 mt in the form of a Charbagh
*Main gate of red sandstone measures 30 mt in height and is 151 feet by 117 feet.

*The chief building material, the white marble was brought from the quarries of Makrana, in district Nagaur, Rajasthan.
*Red sandstone was brought from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and Crystal from China, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelian from Arabia and diamonds from Panna.
*28 kind of rare, semi precious and precious stones were used for inlay work in the Taj Mahal.

*During Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was disfigured as the British officials and Soldiers chiseled out precious stones from walls of Taj Mahal.
*In the 19th century the British viceroy Lord Curzon, declared a restoration project for Taj Mahal, which was completed by 1908. The British remodeling of the garden is still evident in the lawn styling.

*Night viewing of Taj Mahal has been allowed from 28th November 2004 for five nights in a month (which includes the Full Moon night and two days before and after) except Fridays and the month of Ramzan.
*The name Taj Mahal when translated means "Crown Palace" or "Crown of the Palace."




SOME MYTHS

*Some think that the changing colors of the tomb depict the different moods of a woman.

*Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the first European visitors to the Taj Mahal said that Shah Jahan want to build a Mausoleum using BLACK marbles for himself opposite to Taj mahal, across Yamuna River. But it was not accomplished due to war with his sons. And he was dethroned by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built.

*There is also a story that during the rainy season, a drop of water falls on the cenotaph, which inspired Rabindranath Tagore to write "one tear-drop...upon the cheek of time".

*Another myth suggests that beating the silhouette of the finial will cause water to come forth. To this day, officials find broken bangles surrounding the silhouette.




TOURIST INFORMATION

ENTRANCE FEES DETAILS FOR TAJ MAHAL:
  • Entry Fee for Indians: Rs. 20 (INR)
  • Entrance Fee for visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 20 per head.
  • Entry Fee for Others: Rs. 750 (500 rupees to Agra Municipal Corporation (levy charges) and 250 Re - Entry amount/Archaeological Survey of India).
  • Children younger than 15 years are free.
ENTRANCE FEES DETAILS FOR TAJ MAHAL DURING FULL MOON DAY:
  • Indians- Rs. 510(adult)
  • Foreigners- Rs. 750(adult)
  • Children from 3 yrs to 15 yrs- Rs. 500
#INFORMATION ABOUT NIGHT TIME TRAVEL :
The Taj Mahal is also open for moonlight viewing from 8.30 p.m. until 12.30 a.m in eight batches of 50 persons for half an hour duration, two days before and after each full moon. Night time tickets cost 750 rupees(for adults) for foreigners and 510 rupees(for adults) for Indian nationals, for half an hour’s admittance.Cost for Children ( 3Yrs to 15 Years age) is Rs. 500/-. These tickets must be purchased 24 hours in advance from the Booking Counter located in the office of Archaeological Survey of India office, Agra Circle, 22 The Mall, Agra, Uttar Pradesh in between 10-00 am to 6-00 p.m.

#Taj Mahal Closed on Fridays; open for offering prayer in the mosque between 12 Noon to 2 P.M. and on Ramzan day.

#Visiting Hours : The Taj is open from 6 AM to 7:30 PM every day except Friday.

#Get there as early as possible to beat the crowds, and plan to visit the Taj at least two different times during the day (dusk and dawn are best) in order to experience the full effect of changing sunlight on the amazing building. It is also utterly stunning under a full moon.

#For security reasons only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies' purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.

#We can also keep other belongings in the clock room (a free service), outside Taj Mahal entrance gate.

#Cameras - Still cameras free, video Rs 25; No video camera is allowed in side the monument during the night viewing.

#There is only one point of access to the plinth and tomb, a double staircase facing the entrance. One has to remove shoes over or can put on the shoe covers which are provided at a nominal cost by the staff stationed there for this purpose.

PREVIEW OF TICKET:



TICKETS BOARD AT TAJ:




POLLUTION METER IN TAJ:





*Source - Wikipedia, ASI and Others
*Note: If you got any interesting information or anything to tell, feel free to comment. Your Suggestions will help us to improve further.


6 comments:

  1. Great blog entry. I have submitted your article to MyIndiaMyNews.com a digg like website focuses of positive news articles about India and Indians.

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    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank U Krishna, for submitting the article. Ur comment boosted us more.. Surely wil submit other nice articles that focuses on India....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great.It was my long desire to visit the Taj at least once in my Life and this year i made it!

    I created a blog (tajmahalshahjahan.blogspot.com)with some snaps taken by myself.I never knew there was such a nice blog may be i am not that good in blogging. But today when i saw this blog i saw yours by chance mine is nothing related to this great work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The garden is divided in to four quadrants, with two marble canals studded with fountains crossing in the center and the stone-paved pathways divide these each four quadrants into 16 flowerbeds.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well i doubt people who really believe that taj mahal was built by a person like Shah jahan for a lady..! Do you beleive a man who has a Harem of 3000 wives could have ever build a Taj of estimated 3.5 crores investment during that time fo a single woman?? And apart from this, will he ever build a KALASH as it's trident.

    If you all still believe the Fairytale Story of Shahjahan and Mumtaz, then you need to really check out this link:

    http://fullnfenil7.blogspot.in/2013/01/taj-mahal-is-shiv-temple-named-tejo.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Traveling there in early Nov as part of fancy train excusion "Palace on Wheels". Found this information useful. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete