The wonder of the world, the palace of love, the second most visited monument in the world, are the names given to the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum known throughout the world.
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, in northern India about two hours drive from Delhi, the capital. It is advisable to visit it at sunrise or sunset. The sun’s rays change the color of the marble-covered building and give it a different dimension at these times of the day.
THE LEGEND OF TAJ MAHAL
A fairytale love
The legend speaks of an extraordinary love story between Emperor Shah Jahan and a simple “unknown” named Mumtaz Jahan.
Selon this legend, they would have met young and would have immediately fallen in love. The Maharaja having obligations vis-à-vis his family and his people promised him fidelity secretly while resigning himself to his obligations as sovereign.
Her father then found her a beautiful, intelligent woman from a good family. He obeyed his father and married this young lady. However, they will never consummate the marriage, and Shah Jahan did not break his promise to Mumtaz Jahan. His father, disappointed not to see an heir born in the first year of marriage, asked his wife what was happening. She then explained to her that Shah Jahan was very kind to her but that she could never father a child because he refused to have any intimate act with her.
The mad father of rage decided to find a second wife, even more beautiful, richer, and smarter. The mad Maharaja of love will not even notice this extraordinary beauty. Again, he listened to his father and will take her for his second wife, but will never consummate the marriage.
When his father died, he could finally be free to choose his wife. Without hesitation, he married his beloved. Their marriage was like a dream and brought them 14 children, of which 3 survive. Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their fourteenth child, a baby girl. But before dying, she made him promise two things: the first is that he keeps his promise of fidelity and not remarry, the second is to build a small mausoleum for him. Shah Jahan, distraught and devastated by the death of his wife, then had a fantastic building built. He wanted the whole world to know how much he loved her. So he decided to hire architects and build a mausoleum worthy of paradise.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF TAJ MAHAL
An architectural feat
Shah Jahan decided to call on nine architects to build what for him would be the closest representation of heaven on Earth. Not being satisfied by the architects of his country, he will go as far as Persia to find the one who, in his eyes, was the best architect in the world. Begun in 1632, it took no less than 22 years of construction for the main building and a few more years for the gardens and inner courtyard. This construction is still considered today as a masterpiece of architecture. Indeed, despite the few technological means available at the time of construction, it meets all the conditions of strength and resistance against earthquakes. Agra sits on a fault that has the potential to cause earthquakes. The architect, therefore, took these data into account for the construction of the Taj Mahal. This is why, looking at the mausoleum from the front, it is easy to see that the four minarets surrounding the Taj Mahal are not straight. They are in fact slightly tilted outwards, which will prevent them from falling on the main building in the event of an earthquake.
Shah Jahan had a very clear idea of what he wanted for his late wife’s mausoleum. He imagined a large flower garden, a building all in white, the color of paradise, and above all perfection. To do this, everything in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal is built in a symmetrical way: its gardens, the buildings which surround it, the small statuettes at the entrance which represent the twenty-two years of construction, etc.
The only place where symmetry is not respected is inside the mausoleum. The Taj Mahal was built to accommodate only a coffin. Shortly before he died, Shah Jahan asked his first daughter to be buried alongside his true love.