Emperor Shah Jahan moved by the monument wrote:
“Should guilty seek asylum here, Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made; To display thereby the creator's glory.”
Amongst all Mughal emperors Shah Jahan had a keen eye for architecture. Conceptualized by some architects such as Amanat Khan, Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.(Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer)- and commissioned in the year 1632 , completed in the year 1653 at Agra - the Taj Mahal is truly an ingenious work of art. Made of the best makrana marble -which was also the Emperor’s favourite stone-the elegant and clever design and architecture of the Taj Mahal leaves you awestruck.
The tomb is not a sombre place. If one was not told that it was a tomb- one could easily mistake it for a palace- Taj Mahal’s literal meaning too is the “crown of palaces.” Upon seeing the tomb of Shah Jahan and and Mumtaz Mahal, one feels as if they still are living in this magnificent home. Throughout the monument’s edifices one can see inscriptions from the Qu’ran adorning the frames of its gates and entrances. The Arabic inscription is cleverly inlaid with black marble and constructed so that the alphabets appear of the same length to the eye-whereas they’re not! The text is written in the 'thuluth' script, in a style associated particularly with the Persian calligrapher Amanat Khan, who was resident at the Mughal court. (His signature appears in colophons within the marble inscriptions). Persian influence is clearly visible in the making of the dome which was bulbous in shape and constricted at its base. While the delicate white marble was decorated painstakingly with many semiprecious stones. The size and the grandeur of the Taj signify the grandeur of the reign of Shah Jahan, which was the Golden Age of the Mughals.
The art used to decorate the mausoleum are plant motifs, herringbone designs on the columns, jalis or screens around the cenotaph visible majorly amongst other works of art and design. Also noticeable is the unique inlay work done on the marble called the parchin kari or pietra dura-an art form which originated in Rome. The extent of the parchin kari on the marble makes one wonder at the number of hours and skilled craftsmanship it must have taken to decorate the delicate makrana. In 1983, 400 years after it was built, the Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you feel that the Taj looks beautiful in the day time, it looks glorious at night. The makrana marble glows when the moon’s soft white rays fall on it. Visit its glowing visage in the full moon night and fall in love with the Taj. Shah Jahan must have imagined the Taj at such a night so as to inscribe an invitation to the reader to enter Paradise, the abode of the faithful and reward for the righteous.
Come visit the Crown of Palaces!
Ila Mishra Badoni