One of the seven wonders of the world, the mystical “mahal” has always had an aura of enthrallment surrounding it. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan for his beloved third wife Mumtaz Mahal, the construction, architecture, art and calligraphy was completed in 22 years. Legend has it that Mumtaz, on her deathbed, secured a promise from the emperor that he would construct the most beautiful monument in the her memory. It is indeed a miracle of the 16th century, and is a fabulous combination of tomb, mosque, gardens, gateways and fountains.
Plenty of these facts and figures may be incorrect – the centuries old palace has plenty of legends and rumors associated with it – you can decide for yourself which are worth believing!!
- Shah Jehan’s actual name was Khurram, and Mumtaz Mahal’s real name was Arjumand Bano Begum! Mumtaz Mahal means “the most excellent of the palace”
- More than 2000 models were made of the Taj Mahal before the emperor chose the final design.
- Of course there were no cranes, loaders and lifters back in those days – so how was the construction material transported? Elephants! More than 1000 elephants were employed to transport the raw materials.
- The thousands of workers had their hands amputated after the completion of the palace – this was to ensure that they would construct no other building similar to the Mahal.
- A variety of unique gems and stones were used to decorate the artwork such as including topazes, onyxes, garnets, sapphires and bloodstone. Most of these were stolen or ruined in war of the later times.
- The Taj Mahal changes color during the day! Indeed, depending on the amount of sunlight and moonlight, the marble changes shade.
- It exhibits perfect symmetry except for its interior tombs, one which is bigger than the other. This is because the male dominates the female according to Islamic values, and hence the tomb of Shah Jehan is bigger than the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal.
- The plants in the garden of Taj were imported from Turkey, the marble from Makarana, Rajasthan, Punjab, China, Srilanka, Arab states, Tibet, and Afghanistan
- The exterior pillars have been placed at an outward tilt, so in case of a severe earthquake the fall of the pillars could be controlled.