21 Taj Mahal Facts That Are Way Too Good To Be True!
The Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the greatest example of Indo-Islamic architecture.
This perfectly symmetrical building is an ode to love from a time of kings and queens, kingdoms and its people. With grand entrances, beautiful gardens and engraved with semi-precious stones, Islamic inscriptions, floral paintings and motifs; the Taj Mahal reflects the grandeur and unswerving love of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to his queen, and is one of the most visited monuments of the world today.
Let’s Begin With The Taj Mahal Facts Now, Shall We?
Fact 1: The Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died in the childbirth. She is known to have been in labour for 30 hours before conceiving their 14th child after which she lost her life.
Fact 2: Shah Jahan christened Arjumand Bano Begum as Mumtaz Mahal meaning the “Jewel Of The Palace”. Her maiden name was Arjumand Bano Begum.
Fact 3: Mumtaz was the third wife of Emperor Shah Jahan but was the closest to him. From military fields to hunting campaigns, Mumtaz Mahal always accompanied Shah Jahan; she was no less than a friend, philosopher and guide to the emperor.
Fact 4: An epitome of love, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built for Mumtaz and her tomb rests within its walls. After the emperor’s death, his tomb was laid beside hers. You can see 99 names of Allah inscribed calligraphically around the tombs.
Fact 5: The Taj Mahal is the collective product of over a 1,000 elephants and 20,000 labourers including artists, painters, architects, stone cutters, craftsmen, calligraphers, dome builders, masons and many others. The mausoleum took 20 years with the construction starting in 1632 AD and completed in 1648 AD; the outer courtyard and its cloisters were subsequently added and completed in 1653 AD. The living quarters of these many immigrant labourers is now a nearby colony built from the remnants of their stay.
Fact 6: The Taj Mahal is a gift of love with silver entrances, gold leaved designs, engraved with semi-precious stones, with floral paintings and motifs. The emperor made sure that the Taj Mahal lived up to her name the Jewel of the Palace. Built in white marble, the whole mausoleum is studded with 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones. Shah Jahan imported turquoise from Tibet, Jade from China, Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan, Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Carnelian from Arabia and the white marble hailed from Makrana, Rajasthan. Unfortunately, most of these semi-precious stones were ripped off during the reign of the British rule in India.
Fact 7: The Taj Mahal is a colossal monument, covering an area of 42 acres in total and is to be taller than a 20 storey building with a height of 171 metres (561 feet) and is one of the most symmetrical monuments in the world. There’s also a beautiful garden, a central pool that perfectly reflects the Taj Mahal in its waters, an east-facing mosque that is functional to this day and a west-facing guesthouse guest house built for royal families visiting the kingdom.
Fact 8: It cost Shah Jahan 32 million Indian rupees to build this marvellous memorial for wife, an approximate 52.8 billion Indian rupees today.
Fact 9: The Persian architect of the Taj Mahal, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri built the symmetrical mansion with its 4 minarets flanking the domed tomb, with them titling outwards such that the towers would fall away from the mausoleum in case of an earthquake. The Taj Mahal is a wonderful amalgamation of Indian, Islamic and Persian style of architecture.
Fact 10: An infinite number of beautifully carved inscriptions from the Quran adorn the inner walls of the Taj Mahal. It was the work of the calligrapher Abd-al Haqq. He was honoured by the emperor the title Amānat Khan Shirazi. The calligraphy inside the great domed hall of the Taj Mahal beholds Amānat Khan’s signature at its base. It reads: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amānat Khan Šīrāzī in the year 1048 heǰrī, corresponding to the twelfth year of the auspicious reign [of Shah Jahān].”
Fact 11: Amānat Khan is also known to have laid the foundation for another historical monument of India, The Red Fort in Delhi. This stands proof against the age-old myth that Shah Jahan had ordered to cut-off the hands of all those who built the Taj Mahal after the construction was completed.
Fact 12: The two tombs visible to public aren’t the actual tombs of the Emperor Shan Jahan and his Queen Mumtaz Mahal. They are gorgeously ornamented cenotaphs inlaid with gemstones and inscriptions, although the actual toms lie exactly under the cenotaphs at garden Level.
Fact 13: According to Muslim laws, graves cannot be adorned with elaborate decoration and have to laid such that they face the direction of the Mecca. This why the actual tombs of the the royal couple are designed to follow religious protocols.
Fact 14: Shah Jahan wanted to build an identical black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna with the two structures connected by a bridge. It was where his tomb would lay. Mumtaz Mahal was a princess from Persian nobility. Local folklore has it that Shah Jahan built the white Taj for his wife since she was fair-skinned and built the Taj Mahal as a ode to her flawless beauty. On the other hand, it is said that he wished to build a Black Taj Mahal for himself due to his dark complexion.
Fact 15: The Black Taj Mahal could never become a reality since Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb, sentenced his ailing father to house arrest until death. He was then buried next to Mumtaz, but it said that he was never meant to be buried there. You can see how Mumtaz’s cenotaph is right at the centre and in sync with the symmetry of the building, whereas Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is on the west and oddly more than thirty years later faltering the perfect symmetry of the Taj Mahal.
Fact 16: Aurangzeb was fighting for the succession over the throne against more favoured brother, Dara Shikoh. He then killed Dara and also his other brothers who were fighting the same battles and declared himself as the emperor. Ironically, both Aurangzeb and Dara where the children of Mumtaz Mahal.
Fact 17: The River Yamuna has been the ultimate powerhouse for this gorgeous mausoleum all these years. The foundation of the Taj Mahal is made of Timber, and the water from the river provides it the right amount of moisture to retain the structure and evade the erosion of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Fact 18: This white beauty changes colour with every phase of the day and as per folklore, every changing colour exhibits the changing moods of the empress. As the day advances, the Taj Mahal changes colour from soft grey to light pink in mornings, pale yellow to a pearly cream in the noon , a sparkling golden at sunset, and transform into a cool shade of milky silver on a full moon’s night.
Fact 19: The Taj Mahal has been on a constant decline for decades now, thanks to the horrendous air pollution in Agra and the government’s lack of efforts put-in to conserve what is globally recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Due to various chemical pollutants in the air, the marble is depleting and is turning yellow by the day.
Fact 20: The Mughal Empire flourished during the 30 years of Shah Jahan’s reign in India. Apart from the Taj Mahal, he also built the following monuments in India:
- Red Fort or Lal Quila (Delhi)
- Sections of the Agra Fort
- Jama Masjid (Delhi)
- Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque (Lahore)
- Shalimar Gardens (Lahore)
- Sections of the Lahore Fort (Lahore)
- Jahangir Mausoleum
- Shahjahan Mosque (Thatta)
You can also visit the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri located at close proximity to the Taj Mahal on your visit to this historic and symmetrical wonder.
Fact 21: This majestic Mughal ruler was deeply loved by his people. But he spent the last eight years of his life as a prisoner of his son, Aurangzeb in the Shah Burj of the Agra Fort. He wasn’t allowed to meet anybody in the prison except his beloved daughter Jahanara Begum. It was said that Shah Jahan would always gaze at the Taj Mahal from his prison window, until his final day of death, January 22, 1666.
Maybe the heart-touching story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz is what inspired the Nobel-prize-winning Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore to describe the Taj Mahal as “An eternal teardrop on the cheek of time.”
If you have already visited the Taj Mahal, I recommend that you visit it again with the Deccan Odyssey. I bet these interesting Taj Mahal facts will get you looking at this “white pearl of love” in a completely different perspective.
Words By: Jovita Elveera Mendonca