This large mausoleum was built by Mughal ruler Shah Jahan as a symbol of enduring love, honoring his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died shortly after giving birth to their 14th child. As Mughal legend would have it, it is said that Mumtaz while on her death bed asked Shah to build her a mausoleum that would be unparalleled by any other tomb and Shah did just that when he created the Taj Mahal.
A mausoleum veneered in pure white marble, the structure emits a luminosity that seems at times otherworldly. Said to be one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal reflects a well balanced blend of Persian, Indian, and Islamic styles and is considered to be one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Indo-Islamic cultures. Most every detail of the Taj Mahal is said to have been built in perfect symmetry, a classic principal in Mughal architecture.
The rippling flow of arches and domes and playfulness of the light on the mausoleum’s white marble surface make this landmark the rhythmic, cloud-like beauty that it is. Comprised of five principal elements: the garden, main gateway, mosque, jawab, and the mausoleum, the total construction of the massive complex lasted over 21 years with the help of around 20,000 people.
While the mausoleum itself was built as a monument of love, there is a bit of a dark history within the family of Shah and Mumtaz. History for Shah repeats itself as he was deposed and imprisoned by his own son, Aurangzeb. For eight long years Shah Jahan was forced to spend his days across the Yamuna River from his wife’s mausoleum, gazing back at the Taj Mahal.
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