Up Close And Personal The Designs On The Taj Mahal

The spectacular Taj Mahal is a treasure trove of Indias design and architectural styles
The Taj Mahal is a perfectly symmetrical structure with bilateral symmetry along a central axis. Credit Ambica Sharma
The Taj Mahal is a perfectly symmetrical structure with bilateral symmetry along a central axis. Credit Ambica Sharma

There may not be enough adjectives and synonyms to describe the Taj Mahal in Agra Ethereal, majestic, grand, imposing, statuesque, beautiful, stunning, and the list will remain endless. The lament of the grieving emperor, Shah Jahan, cast in perfect symmetry in white makrana marble from Rajasthan to forever announce his intense attachment to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The fifth Mughal emperor, son of king Jahangir, and father of the monarch Aurangzeb left no stone unturned in his pursuit to have the Taj Mahal built. It has been conceived as the earthly replica of Mumtaz Mahal&rsquos abode in heaven.   

Begun in 1632 and completed by 1648, the Taj Mahal, under the direction of its chief architect Ustad Isha Khan, was inspired by Hindu colour codes for homes and buildings and Persian architecture. From Mughal ancestor Timur&rsquos tomb in Samarkand to Humayun&rsquos tomb, and Shah Jahan&rsquos Jama Masjid, in New Delhi, architects brought references from across the Mughal empire. It took Shah Jahan six months to choose the site of the Taj. The labour force was twenty thousand strong, supplemented by a thousand elephants, with raw materials from Sikri, in Uttar Pradesh, Dholpur, Rajasthan, and Central Asia. Ornamented with 28 precious and semi-precious stones from India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Tibet, and Arabia, artisans chose every piece with the utmost deliberation. 

&nbspA heady fusion of Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architecture, the luminous white of the Taj Mahal, as is reported, was referred to by Mughal court poets as the true dawn, which makes the beholder forget about reaching for the highest paradise. The Taj is highly symbolic, and this is evident from the white marble and red sandstone. According to ancient Hindu texts on architecture, the priestly caste&rsquos buildings should be white, and the warrior caste&rsquos red. Shah Jahan employed both colours to form a connection to the two politically influential strata of society at the time. Also, the colour red had a Persian relationship, as all royal tents were always dyed scarlet.

The designs and patterns on the walls are exquisite, to say the least. That each panel has modern-day, laser-work-like perfection speaks for the quality of work the artisans dedicated to the mausoleum. The marble walls of the tomb have been covered with bas relief work on dado, and extensive calligraphic and floral inlay work, with black and yellow marble, and semi-precious stone, on the upper walls.   

Heartbroken Shah Jahan&rsquos court historian, Muhammad Amin Qazwini&rsquos documented words were truly predicting the future when he wrote about the funereal complex of the Taj Mahal, &ldquoIt will be a masterpiece for ages to come, increasing the amazement of all humanity.&rdquo

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