Mughal architecture - TAJ MAHAL

Marked as one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is the best work ever produced by the Mughal architecture. Ustad Ahmad also known as Isa Khan, an architect in the court of Shah Jahan from Lahore is most often credited as the plan drawer of the Taj Mahal, based on a seventeenth century manuscript that claims that Ustad Ahmad was the architect of both the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort at Delhi. The white marbled Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

One of the most significant Mughal Empire architectural marvels, the Taj Mahal, still stands in all its beauty and finesse in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Architecturally, the building mixes Islamic arches, onion domes and minarets with Indian marble, gardens and other features. Its aesthetics are defined by two main traits- grand symmetry and intricate ornate details. In Arabic, the Taj Mahal is known as "Crown of Palaces". Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest nearby Agra Fort. Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife.

The architecture of Taj Mahal has British, French, Mughal, Arabic and Hindu influences. The palace contains 120 rooms, a hall of mirrors or sheesh mahal and the savon bhadon pavilion, an elaborate fountain like structure that simulated the effect of rain. The main entrance is a seven storied structure. The Taj Mahal took approximately 20 years and an approximate involvement of 22,000 workers including masons, stone-cutters, in-layers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans summoned from all over central Asia and Iran to complete it. It is made of pure white marble and described as a 'Dream in Marble'. All its parts are perfect in proportion.

This structure on the bank of the river Jamuna is constructed on a platform 6.5 metres high. Some of its special features that make it a masterpiece in marble are the gateway, the central dome, the elegant minarets, the lovely gardens and the intricate inlay work on marble. The arrangement inside is like that of the Humayun's tomb. The Mausoleum is built on a 6.6 metre high plinth. The lower portion, square in design, is at a height of 32 metres. There are round minarets at each corner of the building. The central dome has the appearance of an inverted lotus and it rises to a height of 56.1 metres.

The entire Taj complex consists of five major constituents, namely Darwaza (main gateway), Bageecha (gardens), Masjid (mosque), Naqqar Khana (rest house) and Rauza (main mausoleum). The main tomb of Taj Mahal stands on a square platform that was raised 50 meter above the riverbank and was leveled with dirt to reduce seepage from the river. In the interior, there are octagonal chambers connected to each other by diagonal passages. Both the interior and exterior of the building are carved and decorated with inlay works, screens and calligraphy. The original door of this massive sandstone gateway was made out of solid silver.

It was constructed to serve the function of preventing people from getting any glimpse of the tomb until they were right at the doorway itself. With a vertical symmetry, the main gateway of Taj Mahal stands bordered with Arabic calligraphy of verses from the Quran, made up of black stone. There are two edifices on each side of the main building, which is surrounded by gardens, pools and fountains. The cost of the construction was Rs. 3 Crore and because of its exceptional beauty and architecture, the Taj Mahal is considered to be one of the wonders of the world.

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