The source of the name 'Taj Mahal' is not very clear but scholars believe
that it originated from the abbreviation of the empress' name, Mumtaz
Mahal and translated to 'Crown Palace'. As the small details integrate
together, one is awed by the costliness and large quantities and finery
of the materials used, which ranges from marble to precious gemstones.
The first illustration that might come to one's mind at a remark about
Taj Mahal is that of a central domed building but the true appreciation
comes only when one sees it as the manifestation of one man's
unfathomable and unshakable desire for the woman he loved - the woman
who proved her loyalty and everlasting friendship to him till her last
breath, a woman of great physical and inner beauty and a woman of
substance and strength.
It took twenty-two years, thirty-two million rupees and hard toil of
more than twenty thousand workers to construct Taj Mahal. Completed in
1648, the documents regarding construction of Taj cite the name of Ustad
Isa, a very famous architect, well versed in the Islamic architecture,
as its chief architect. The documents also list the names of persons
employed for this grand work and and the inventory of the construction
materials and from where they were brought. From this source, we have
learnt that expert craftsmen from Delhi, Kannauj, Lahore, and Multan
contributed to the task along with the specialized tasks being handled
by the renowned Muslim craftsmen that came here from Baghdad, Shiraz and
Sometimes known as 'Baby Taj', this mausoleum is considered as the
imminent precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as elaborate carvings and
inlay work are concerned. Itmad-ud daulah, stands across the River
Yamuna from the Taj Mahal. Belonging to the age of Jahangir, it contains
cenotaphs of Mirza Ghiyas and Asmat Begum, parents of the powerful
Mughal Empress Nurjahan, queen of Jahangir. Jahangir made him his prime
minister with the title Itmad-ud-daulah (Pillar of the State). The tomb
was built in the famed Char Bagh style that Itmad-ud-Daulah had himself
laid out six years before his death 1622. The monument is beautifully
conceived in the white marble with mosaic and lattice.
The tomb is not a very large structure as Taj Mahal with a height of
only 21 m and a dome-roofed octagonal minaret of 12 m each at each
corner. It is the inlay work or pietra dura on the walls of mausoleum
that makes it extremely attractive. Marble screens of geometric
latticework permit soft lighting of the inner chamber. On the engraved
walls of the chamber is the recurring theme of a wine flask with snakes
km from the city centre of Agra, the construction of the mausoleum of
Akbar was started by Akbar himself. It is a perfect amalgamation of
Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain architectural styles. His son
Jehangir completed it and also did many modifications in the original
plan of the building. Named after Sikander Lodhi, the tomb has
three-storey-minarets on its four corners. These minarets are built in
red sandstone with stunning inlay work of marble.
There are a number of 'langurs' wandering about in the place as it is
surrounded by a beautiful garden. In its premises lies the Baradi palace
in the gardens built by Sikander Lodhi. A broad paved causeway leading
to the tomb has five storeys and is in the shape of a truncated pyramid.
The main tomb has a unique square design which is unparalleled by all
other Mughal buildings.
40 km from Agra, the city of Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of
the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. But as abruptly as it had been
built, it was abandoned due to the scarcity of water. A popular legend
is attached to the city's conception. According to it, Emperor Akbar was
without a male heir, and was granted one by the blessings of the Sufi
saint Sheikh Salim Chisti. In honor of the saint, Akbar named the prince
Salim, and decided to found a new city to celebrate his birth. And thus,
the magnificent Fatehpur Sikri, the new capital, came into being. The
city was intended to embody the noble ideals, and the humanitarian bent
of this dynamic emperor. The finest monuments within this area are the
Diwan - i - Am, Diwan - i - Khas, Panch Mahal, Jama Masjid, Panch Mahal,
Buland Darwaza and the tomb of Saint Sheikh Salim Chisti.
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