Daily Dose: Taj Mahal

Add to TwitterAs we approach the season of love, I thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of the grandest, most beautiful architectural monuments to passion and devotion: the Taj Mahal. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan following the death of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, this opalescent mausoleum is a mecca for 2-4 million visitors each year. Though its central focus is Mumtaz’s tomb framed by four minarets, the Taj Mahal complex in Agra, India also features extensive gardens and additional monuments.

Taj Mahal; Image courtesy of Ankur

Detail of facade; Image courtesy of a.h.unlu

Construction for the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and wasn’t completed until two decades later in 1653. Around 20,000 workers – including sculptors, calligraphers, inlayers and stonecutters – were involved in its creation. Its estimated total cost was 32 million rupees (not adjusted to contemporary values). The main dome reaches 35 meters high and the pristine white marble is inlaid with 28 types of precious and semiprecious stones from Rajasthan, China, Tibet, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Arabia.

Inlaid flower designs and calligraphy at the Taj Mahal; Image compilation courtesy of Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.

All of this makes for an impressive sight – but it’s not the only thing that keeps people fascinated with this world wonder. That the majestic Taj Mahal was born of intense heartbreak and grief lends it a sobering as well as inspiring presence, speaking personally to the individual sorrows or joys of each visitor. The following quote from poet Rabindranath Tagore captures a glimpse of the sentiment one experiences at the Taj Mahal:

Let the splendor of the diamond, pearl and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow. Only let this one teardrop, the Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time…

Tomb at the Taj Mahal; Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

In exquisite surroundings, Shah Jahan’s body was later laid to rest next to that of his wife. It seems fitting that the two devoted lovers should spend their earthly eternity side-by-side. Passages from the Qur’an and floral designs adorn the surface of their tombs.

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