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Sources for the Design of the Taj Mahal - Essay Example

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Sir Ranindanath Tagore describes the Taj Mahal as "a tear in the face of eternity." The most recognizable of Mughal architecture and in fact, of Indian architecture, it is proclaimed as an undisputed "wonder of the world." The splendid white structure is actually a tomb built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Arjumand Banu Begum (Chosen of the Palace), dearly referred to by his subjects as Mumtaz Mahal…
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Sources for the Design of the Taj Mahal
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Download file to see previous pages The Emperor and his court mourned Mumtaz Mahal for two years and he decided to commemorate his beloved wife with a building that which had no equal in the world.
Mumtaz Mahal was laid to rest on the banks of the Jamuna river and a council of the best architects were assembled to prepare the designs for the memorial. Some experts attribute the design to Geronimo Veronneo, an Italian in the service of the Mughal emperors. However, others credit Ustad Isa Khan Effendi, a Persian, and his pupil Ustad Ahmad who did the detailed work. Ismail Khan designed the famous dome.
It took 22 years to build the more than 20-storey edifice which required a total of 20,000 workers to finish. Craftsmen from as far as Turkey were engaged to contribute their talents. Precious stones were imported from foreign lands. The marble was quarried at Makrana, close to Jodhpur. A ramp stretching two miles was built to reach the level of the dome. According to local lore, Shah Jahan ordered the right hand of the chief mason to be cut off upon the building's completion so that his work cannot be recreated. Another legend relates that the Shah wanted to build another Taj across the river, this one made entirely of black marble.
The symmetrically designed Taj Mahal sits on a raised platform and is surrounded by four minarets. Built during the height of the Mughal empire with its unparalleled riches, the best materials and adornments were utilized to furnish and decorate the Taj Mahal. There were rich Persian carpets, gold lamps and candlesticks. Beautiful mosaic works and precious stones were also used to decorate the building's interior. Two great silver doors were said to have been melted down by Suraj Mal in 1764. A sheet of pearls covering Mumtaz Mahal's sarcophagus was carried away by Amir Hussein Ali Khan in 1720.
The surroundings of the Taj Mahal have been restored in accordance with the original designs of Ali Mardan, a nobleman in Shah Jahan's court. A red sandstone channel set between two rows of cypress trees dominates the main vista. The main entrance is located at the west side of the building but there are two other entrances from the west and east. The main gateway is a sandstone structure standing three storeys high. It has an octagonal central chamber with smaller rooms on each side. The walls are filled with inscriptions of verses from the Quran. The white marble which was quarried from Makrana varies in its tint and tone, changing with the light at various times of the day.
Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom wrote in The Art and Architecture of Islam (1994) that the edifice stands on a large garden of quadripartite chahar bagh which measures 1,900 feet by 1,000 feet. Being at the north end of the garden and along the riverbank, a large gateway at the south end provides balance to the tomb. The tomb's plan and massing is a refinement of Humayun's tomb in Delhi. The large bulbous dome of the mausoleum is more logically connected to its octagonal rooms compared to those of Humayun's tomb, and is framed by four minarets. The white marble is delicately polished and the details of its carvings are intricate that they render a carefully balanced image on the channel. The symmetrical design is further balanced by a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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