The Story behind Taj Mahal
Commissioned in 1632 by Shah Jahan, the 5th emperor of the Mughal Dynasty, the Taj Mahal is a colossal mausoleum complex that houses the remains of the emperor’s beloved wife. This architectural marvel of the Mughal architecture was constructed over a span of 21 years using white marble. It draws influence from Indian, Islamic, and Persian architecture.
Shah Jahan married Arjumand Banu Begum in 1612. Popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, she was always cherished as the favorite of all his 3 queens and so, when Mumtaz died after giving birth to Shah Jahan’s 14th child, he ordered the building of a grand mausoleum in her memory.
The construction of Taj Mahal started around 1632 and continued for 21 years. The chief architect of this monument that embodies funereal austerity was Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, an Indian of Persian origin. He employed a thousand elephants along with 20,000 workers from India, Europe, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire for creating this elaborate complex that became a reminder of eternal love for the world. The cost of constructing this mosque that sits on the southern bank of the Yamuna river was 320,000,000 INR.
How the Architecture of Taj Mahal Fount its Origin in the Tomb of Humayun
Located in east Delhi, the Tomb of Humayun was the very first garden tomb to be constructed in India. Devoted to the second Mughal Emperor Humayun who died in 1556, this magnificent monument is the real inspiration behind the architecture of the world-renowned Taj Mahal.
This royal mausoleum was commissioned in 1565 in the memory of the second Mughal ruler Humanyun, by Bega Begum, Humayun’s wife.
The construction of the tomb started 9 years after Humayun’s death and was completed in 1572 under the patronage of Humayun’s son, Mughal emperor Akbar who was the third ruler to ascend the throne. Makbara-e-Humayun was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1993.
A comparison of the design similarities of the two structures clearly reflects how the Mughals polished and perfected the original architecture of Makbara-e-Humayun to create a Masterpiece – The Taj Mahal!
Both the structures have a similar looking facade with massive pistaq entrances that form pointed arches to break the above of the façade. This pistaq-iwan niche combination is a repetitive theme in both the structures. The inspiration behind this arrangement can be traced back to the Timurid Madrasa of Ulegh Beg which was built between 1417 and 1420 in Uzbekistan.
Also, the huge bulbous domes that feature at the center of both the Taj Mahal and the Humayun’s Tomb are symbolic of Hindu chhatri pavilions. The layout of both the structures follows a nine-fold plan where a central chamber is surrounded by eight rooms. The tomb is strategically located at the center of the octagon inside a circle. The circle symbolizes the divine world and the square signifies the human world.
However both the structures are different in their color schemes and also in the way the encourage movement inside the structure. The Taj Mahal’s plan encourages a rotation around its central tomb whereas the Humanyun’s Tomb encourages its visitors to move away from the center. So you can clearly see that the Tomb of Humayun has been a precursor to the architecture of Taj Mahal.
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