Mosque Inside Taj Mahal Essay
Mosque Inside Taj Mahal
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The epitome of love, the elegy in marble, Taj Mahal is one of the most graceful and extravagant monuments in India. The seventh wonder of the world, it attracts thousands of tourists every year. A symbol of endless love and devotion of Emperor Shah Jehan to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj is a befitting tribute to so romantic-a-love story and so divine an emotion that binds two souls forever. Mumtaz Mahal was a Muslim Persian Princess (her name, Arjumand Banu Begum before marriage) and Shah Jahan was the son of The Mughal Emperor Jehangir and grandson of Aktar The Great. He was at the age 14 that he met Mumtaz and fell in love with her. A visit to Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of Mumtaz, is a rare experience. It has become a signature monument of Indian architecture and someone has rightly said that Taj jas been designed like a palace and finished like a jewel.
The pure white marble structure, Taj acquires different shades at different times of the day and with changing seasons. The soft pink color of the dawn and fiery shade that it acquires at dusk are all bewitching. Though, the light that presents it in the best possible manner is perhaps that of full moon, when it shines with pristine white and silver glory. Taj seems to be as fanciful as the love story it represents of an all-mighty prince and a simple girl hawking silk and glass beads in the market and their marriage that seems so much like a fairy tale. The faithful wife marched with the prince, who was later crowned the emperor, on his every expedition and bore him fourteen children. On her deathbed, she made the emperor to promise to make a lovely monument unlike any other in the world as the tribute to their loving moments that were a treasure for her. The emperor kept the promise faithfully and thus, Taj was conceived.
Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra that in turn is situated in India. India is the prime country of Indian Peninsula that stretches amidst Indian Ocean in the south, Bay of Bengal in East, Arabian Sea in the west and Himalayas in North. India is the largest country in Indian sub-continent and
South Asia. It is situated in the Northern Hemisphere and Tropic of Cancer passes right from its center.
Agra is a historic city that is situated 200 Kilometers or 125 American miles from Delhi, the capital city of India. Agra is an important tourism and commercial destination in the Indian province of Utter Pradesh. Taj Mahal is located in Agra only. Taj Mahal is situated at latitude of 27° 10 minutes 28.67 seconds North of Equator and have a longitude of 78° 2 minutes 32.05 seconds East of the Greenwich Median.
Agra airport is 7 km from the city center and 3 km from Eidgah bus stand. Major airlines operate daily tourist shuttle flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Banglore. Eidgah bus stand is the main bus stand of Agra, from where one can catch buses for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura and Fatehpur-Sikri etc. Agra is also well connected by railroad. The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station that is well connected to Delhi, Varanasi and other cities of Utter Pradesh Rajasthan. Trains like Palace on Wheel, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj Express are the best choices if you want to reach Agra from Delhi.
MAPS OF TAJ MAHAL
How to Reach Agra
Agra is easily accessible, especially from Delhi and Jaipur. It has its own domestic airport, which is just 5 km from the city and also doubles up as the military airport. It is also well connected by a network of trains to almost all the major destinations throughout the country and some of the super-express trains that pass through it include the Rajdhani Express and the Shatabdi Express. Both the government and private buses and deluxe coaches run to and from Agra to all the nearby major destinations within and outside Uttar Pradesh.
By Air:| Agra’s very own Kheria airport is barely 5 km from the city and is also known as Agra Civil Enclaves. All the major domestic airlines provide
flight services to and from the city of Taj.| By Train/Rail:| It is surprising to note that Agra has seven railway stations of its own, excluding the Tundla junction, which is just 1 hour away from the city. However the two major railway stations include Agra Fort Railway Station and Agra Cantt Railway Station. Raja-ki-Mandi is also a popular stopover point in the city.
Most of the trains running across India pass through the former two railway stations including the luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ and the super express trains known as Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express. Some of the other major trains pass through Tundla, well connected to the city by road.| By Road:| Agra boasts of three National Highways including N.H. No. 2, 3 and 11. The government and private bus services are available to and from Agra to all the nearby major destinations. One can hire ordinary buses or the deluxe coaches, according to their requirements. U.P. Tourism also conducts special guided tours for the tourists, who come here just for a day, including Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri in their itineraries.|
FACTS ABOUT TAJ MAHAL
Taj Mahal was constructed between 1631 A.D and 1654 A.D. The construction is said to have been done by a workforce of 22,000 that contained among others laborers, Naqqashi laborers, painters, stonecutters, garden-layers, gardeners, embroidery artists and masons. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned its construction. It was constructed as a mausoleum for Arjumand Begum, who was re-christened Mumtaz after her marriage to Shah Jahan. It is said that Shah Jahan was very much pained by the death of his favorite wife. He constructed this mausoleum so that its pleasant site would give him solace. The Taj Maha is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that is a subtle blend of elements from Persian, Indian and Turkish architecture. The Taj Mahal has achieved special note because of the romance of its inspiration. It is wrongly perceived that only the white domed marble mausoleum is Taj. The Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures that contains gardens, gateways, inns and a mosque.
Quick Facts about Taj Mahal is Legend has it that Shah Jahan had planned
to construct another Taj Mahal in black marble on the other side of the river, but the war with his sons interrupted his plans.Some people think that Geronimo Veroneo, an Italian, designed the Taj Mahal.Supposedly, there are two staircases on the northern side of the red sandstone plinth that lead into a basement containing 17 chambers, with a third crypt in the center.Some important studies feel that the Taj Mahal is sinking.The name Taj Mahal when translated means “Crown Palace” or “Crown of the Palace.”Some think that the changing colors of the tomb depict the different moods of a woman.
BUILDING MATERIALS USED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION
In the construction of the Taj Mahal three types of stones have been used : (1) Semi-precious stones like Aqiq (agate), Yemeni, Firoza (turquoise), Lajwad (Lapis- lazuli); moonga (coral), Sulaimani (onyx), Lahsunia (cat’s eye), Yasheb (jade) and Pitunia (blood stone). These were mainly used for inlaying work. (2) Rare and scarce stones such as Tilai (goldstone), Zahar-mohra, Ajuba, Abri, Khathu, Nakhod and Maknatis (magnet stone) were used for bold inlay and mosaic work chiefly on floors, exterior dados and turrets and (3) Common stones: sang-i-Gwaliari (grey and yellow sandstone) sang-i-Surkh (red sandstone), sang-i-moosa (black slate) and sang-i-Rukhan (sang-i-marmar; white marble) were used in foundations, masonry and for giving finishing touch to the external surfaces. Red stone was brought from the neighboring towns like Fatehpur Sikri, Karauli-Hindaun, Tantpur and Paharpur whereas white marble was brought from Makrana mines (Rajasthan). Semi precious and rare stones were occasionally brought from as distant places such as Upper Tibet, Kumaon, Jaisalmer, Cambay and Ceylon.
Other materials which were used for the construction of Taj Mahal included different kind of bricks, Gaj-i-Shirin (sweet limestone), Khaprel or tiles, Qulba or Spouts to lead off water, San, Gum, Sirish-i-Kahli or reed glue, Gul-i-Surkh or red clay, Simgil (silver clay) and glass. The center and skeleton of the main building is made up of extra strong brick masonary in which massive white marble slabs, have been used on the headers and stretchers system to give it a white marble outlook. Country ingredients such as molasses; batashe (sugar-bubbles), belgiri-water, urd-pulse, curd,
jute and Kankar (pieces of fossilized soil) were mixed with lime mortar to make it an ideal cementing material.
The Mughals believed that the precious and semiprecious stones have different effects on the fortunes of different persons and places; they may be auspicious or inauspicious. This has exactly been calculated and strictly adhered to in the adornment of the Taj Mahal. It is primarily because of these reasons that we see predominance of one or the other stone on a particular feature of its architecture. A number of marks are engraved on red stone slabs, on the pathways, stairs, plinths and pavements of the Taj Mahal. Some of them are- Symbolic motifs Swastika, Cakra, âako¸a (Hexagon), Paµcako¸a (Pentagon), áa´kh (conch-shell), Animate motifs – fish, bi rd, Geometrical motifs – triangle, Square, rectangle, Floral motifs- leaves and petals of the flowers chiefly lotus.
ARCHITECT OF THE TAJ MAHAL
There has been a long ongoing controversy about the name of the chief architect of the Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of architectural perfection. Veroneo and Ustad Isa Afandi are the chief contestants proposed for the credit. According to the Spanish monk, Father Sebastian Manrique, Venetian Geronimo Veroneo, the famous jeweler was the chief architect. Veroneo is known to have lived in Agra for many years and died at Lahore in 1640. However, there are many loopholes in this theory. Apart from the fact that his name has not been mentioned in any of the contemporary Persian sources carrying names of various artists and craftsmen who worked for Taj, even the travelogues written by the Europeans who passed through Agra at the time mention Veroneo only as a skilled jeweler and not in anyway connected with Taj.
Besides, no mention of Veroneo having ever learned architecture has been found and it is well understood that only a person well versed in architecture could have proposed and planned Taj. The second contestant Ustad Isa Afandi has only been mentioned as the draftsman and not as engineer or architect of Taj in the various Persian scriptures of those times including the accounts of Lahauri. Other names that keep popping up from time to time include the Turkish Isa Muhammad Effendi and Persian architect, Ustad Ahmad, who had designed the Red fort. Yet, the most historians agree that Shah Jahan himself was the main proponent of Taj. To create this architectural wonder, he passionately coordinated all the ideas, suggestions and projects presented to him by various skilled artists, irrespective of their origin, whether they were French, Turkish, Indian or Italian. Only vigilant and correct amalgamation of myriad designs and opinions proposed by many masterminds put together could create such an architectural balance and splendor.
INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR TAJ MAHAL
The interior chamber of Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. Here the inlay work is not pietra dura, but lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, though, only the south garden-facing door is used. The interior walls are about 25 metre high and topped by a “false” interior dome decorated with a sun motif. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level. As with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall. The four central upper arches form balconies or viewing areas and each balcony’s exterior window has an intricate screen or jali cut from marble.
In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings covered by chattris at the corners. Each chamber wall has been highly decorated with dado bas relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels, reflecting in miniature detail of the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex. The octagonal marble screen or jali which borders the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels. Each panel has been carved through with intricate piercework. The remaining surfaces have been inlaid with semiprecious stones in extremely delicate detail, forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.
Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves and hence Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are laid in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber
with faces turned right and towards Mecca. Mumtaz Mahal’s cenotaph is placed at the precise center of the inner chamber with a rectangular marble base of 1.5 metre by 2.5 metre. Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semipreciousems.Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is beside Mumtaz’s to the western side. It is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex.
His cenotaph is bigger than his wife’s, but reflects the same elements: A larger casket on slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies Shah Jahan. 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. Ninety Nine Names of God are to be found as calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including “O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious… “. The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; “He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri.
PICTURES OF TAJ MAHAL
INTERIOR PICTURE’S OF TAJ MAHAL
EXTERIOR PICTURE’S OF TAJ MAHAL
Taj Mahal in Agra
Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Mosque Inside Taj Mahal