“Not a piece of architecture,
as other buildings are,
but the proud passions
of an emperor’s love
wrought in living stones.”
Sir Edwin Arnold
There have been many men throughout the course of history who have shown their never-ending love for a woman. Wars were fought, duals lost, and many historical events took place because of a man’s love for a woman. But, there is one man who went beyond expressing his love and left behind something beautiful for all the World to enjoy and behold.
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan build the famous, Taj Mahal for his cherished and favorite of his three queens, Mumtaz Mahal. Sadly, in 1631 Mumtaz died after giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. The grieving Shah, ordered the building of a magnificent mausoleum across the Yamuna River from his own royal palace at Agra.
Construction of the enormous Taj Mahal, named in honor of his beloved wife, began in 1632 to house her remains. More than 20,000 workers from India, Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire, along with some 1,000 elephants, were brought in to build the mausoleum complex. It took over a 20-year period and is one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture, which combined Indian, Persian and Islamic influences. At its center is the Taj Mahal itself, built of shimmering white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones (including jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise) forming intricate designs.
Shah intended to build a second grand mausoleum across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where his own remains would be buried when he died. The two structures would have been connected by a bridge. However, his third son Aurangzeb deposed his ailing father in 1658 and took power himself. Shah lived out the last years of his life under house arrest in a tower of the Red Fort at Agra, with a view of the majestic resting place he had constructed for his wife. He was buried next to his wife when he died in 1666.
Throughout the centuries the Taj Mahal fell into disrepair. Near the turn of the 19th century, Lord Curzon ordered major restoration of the mausoleum as an effort to preserve India’s artistic and cultural heritage. The other threat to the mausoleum was air pollution from nearby factories and automobiles which posed a continual threat to the mausoleum’s gleaming white marble façade. To protect the building from further deterioration, in 1998 India’s Supreme Court ordered a number of anti-pollution measures. Some factories were closed, while vehicular traffic was banned from the immediate vicinity of the complex.
In 2019, it was reported that over 3 million people a year (or around 45,000 a day during peak tourist season) visit the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal remains one of the World’s most celebrated structures and a stunning symbol of India’s rich history as well as a symbol of true love.