There shall be no one in this country who hasn’t wished to see the grand jewel of India- the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site is a monument which garners a lot of tourist attraction from all over the world. This is not only due to its magnificent architecture which embodies the Mughal art and architecture but also the story that lies behind this crown jewel. Built by Shah Jahan, a Mughal Emperor, son of Jahangir and the grandson of Akbar, this iconic monument is a mausoleum in the real sense inside which lies the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Now the story why it is so unique and why is it called the epitome of love is because it was made by The Emperor for her favorite wife, after her death.
Mumtaz Mahal was a Persian Princess with the original name, “Arjumand Banu Begum” before getting married to Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan first met Mumtaz at the young age of 14 and fell in love with her. Five years later, they got married in the year 1612. The Imperial court documents show how fond Shah Jahan was of her wife Mumtaz. He loved her the most among his wives. It was in the year 1631 when tragedy struck at his doorstep. His wife Mumtaz Mahal died while delivering their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. This was an irreparable loss for Shah Jahan and for the following days he drowned himself in grief. It was then he decided to build Taj Mahal to commemorate his wife and his love for her. It was the result of this unconditional and unending love, we find this great monument standing tall at its place today. In 1631, the order commissioning the building of Taj Mahal was given by Shah Jahan and the construction began in the following year.
Stonecutters, carvers, calligraphers, masons and other artisans were called form the entire empire and also from central Asia for building this monument which took almost 22 years to be completed at a cost 32 million rupees at that time that would sum up to 52.8 billion rupees in 2015. It was built with the help of around 20,000 artisans and around 1000 elephants. The white marble used in the building was brought from all over the country and central Asia. The credit of designing this beautiful mausoleum goes to Ustad Ahmad Lahauri who was the lead architect in Shah Jahan’s court. The construction of the main piece was completed in 1643 through the nearby pillars and area was constructed in the coming years.
Taj Mahal has faced a lot of threats, and in the British colonial period, it faced a lot of deterioration when a lot of precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls were chiselled out. The British style gardens were also introduced during 1908 when Lord Curzon started a restoration project for Taj Mahal.