A historical monument and monument in India; It combined Mughal, Islamic, Indian and Persian architecture. It was ordered to be built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century AD to be a shrine for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in memory of her. It has become a legendary symbol of love and loyalty. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included it on the World Heritage List in 1983.
Location and space
The Taj Mahal Palace was built in the city of Agra, the ancient capital of the Mughal Islamic Empire in the Middle Ages, and the modern capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, south of the Indian capital. New Delhiwhich is about 200 kilometers away.
Its area is 170 thousand square meters, and it consists of a mosque, a guest house, and many other buildings, in addition to the main shrine, which is considered the reason for building this large edifice.
Some historians believe that the name “Taj Mahal” is an abbreviation of the name of Princess Mumtaz Mahal, while others believe that the residents of the city of Agra nicknamed the deceased empress “Taj Mahal.” In any case, it was built to commemorate her memory.
Reason for construction
In the 17th century AD, Shihab al-Din Muhammad Khurram assumed the Mughal throne in India. Before assuming this position, he had been engaged to Princess Mahal Mumtaz in 1607, but they were not allowed to marry until 1612. As soon as he sat on the throne, he chose her as Empress of the Mughals, giving her the title “Malika Jahan” means “Queen of the World” or “Queen of the Age”.
She was his advisor on matters of governance and politics, and he trusted her so much that he granted her his imperial seal and ratified decisions and decrees that concerned the affairs of the empire, internally and externally. He also took her with him on all his military campaigns and trips, and she bore him 14 children (8 sons and 6 daughters), 7 of whom died at an early age.
Historians say that they were united by true love, which was unusual for India at a time when marriages were usually concluded to inherit dynasties. After her death in 1931, the Mongol Emperor was greatly saddened by her loss, so people retired for a whole year, his hair turned gray, and his health was affected by the abundance of sadness and pain that he experienced. As soon as he came out of isolation, he ordered her body to be transported to the city of Agra in 1632, and issued an order to build a shrine containing her remains, which would be an architectural masterpiece that history talks about.
The construction of the palace began in 1632, and the Emperor brought in engineers, builders, and craftsmen from many Islamic and European countries, and brought 40 types of precious stones to be placed in it. More than 20,000 craftsmen and workers participated in the construction, and there were many stories about the main engineers and architects of the palace.
When construction was completed in 1653, the remains of the Empress were transferred to it. It is said that Shah Jahan originally intended to build another shrine across the river containing his remains, connected to the Taj Mahal by a bridge, but his son Aurangzeb deposed him from power after his illness and the struggle of his four sons to succeed him in 1658, and imposed house arrest in the Agra Fort until his death in the year 1658. 1666, then he was buried next to his wife's tomb.
In their construction and engineering of the palace, the architects combined various designs, including Islamic, Mughal, Indian, Persian, and modern architecture as well. The English poet Sir Edwin Arnold commented on the beauty of this masterpiece, saying, “What distinguishes the Taj Mahal from any other architectural edifice is the passion with which it was built, which reflects the emperor’s love for his wife,” considering that the beauty and distinction of the “Taj Mahal” was a reflection of the beauty of “Mumtaz Mahal.” And its location in the heart of the loving emperor.
The Taj Mahal Palace is similar to a unified complex, which includes a main gate, a shrine with a central dome that reaches a height of about 73 meters, a garden, and a mosque with four minarets – each of which reaches a height of 37 meters – in each of the four corners of the shrine.
White marble was used in the construction, which reflects shades of color according to sunlight or moonlight. It consists of 22 prominent domes, symbolizing the period of time it took to build.
The interior of the Taj Mahal Palace contains two false graves, one for Shah Jahan, who died two years after the completion of the palace’s construction, and the other for his wife, for whom this palace was built in memory of her.
Cultural and tourism activity
This historical landmark was neglected after the collapse of Mughal rule, and remained so until Lord Curzon, the British Viceroy of India, ordered its restoration at the beginning of the 20th century in order to preserve heritage.
The palace's fame increased after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) classified it as a World Heritage Site in 1983, after which the Taj Mahal became one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.
Millions of tourists from all over the world visit it annually, especially in the months of October, November, and February, when the weather in India is mild, and about 70,000 visitors visit it daily, according to statistics before the spread of the Corona epidemic (Covid-19).
From time to time, it is disturbed by sectarian conflict, after Hindu nationalist groups sought to deny its Islamic symbolism and insist that it is a purely Indian cultural symbol, despite the truth on the ground and in architecture.
The Hindus demanded the right to pray in the shrine on the pretext that it was built on the site of an ancient sanctuary dedicated to what they call the god “Shiva.” Accordingly, a member of the ruling “Bharatiya Janata Party” submitted a petition to force the Indian Antiquities Agency to open 20 rooms in the “Taj Mahal” on the grounds that It contains Hindu statues, which was rejected by both the commission and the court.
Some of the shrine's features have been altered in the last three decades due to air pollution caused by emissions from nearby foundries and factories. In 1998, a restoration program for the Taj Mahal began, where pollution control mechanisms were installed, a buffer zone was established around the shrine, and traffic near it was prohibited.