Outlying buildings / interior / exterior decoration of Taj Mahal

Minarets / floor / layout plan / elevation / height / decorative gardens /plants / fountains / mosques / semi precious stones of Taj Mahal, Agra, India

The decorative gardens through which the path leads are designed along classical Mughal 'char bagh' style. Two marble canals studded with fountains, lined with cypress trees which emanate from the central, raised pool traverse in the centre of the garden which divide it into four equal squares. In every square there are 16 flower beds, make a total of 64 with about 400 plants in each bed. The characteristic to be noted is that the garden is arranged in such a way as to sustain faultless symmetry. The channels with a wonderful reflection of the Taj, used to be stocked with colorful fishes and the gardens with fine-looking birds. To the west is a miniature museum that is open daily apart from Mondays and Fridays between 10am and 5pm. This museum contains original architectural drawings of the Taj, information on the semi precious stones used in its erection, and several celadon plates, said to split into pieces or change color if the food served on them have poison. Entry to the museum is free.

Taj Mahal itself is positioned nearly 900 ft away at the north end of the garden and set on two bases, one of sandstone and the other, an elevated square platform (186 x 186 feet) worked into a black and white chessboard design and topped by an enormous blue veined white marble terrace. Giant white minarets, four in number (41.6m high) charm every corner of the platform. Each has a intentional slant outwards the South west by 20 cm, the others by 5cm.On the east, west sides of the tomb are alike red sandstone buildings. On the west is a mosque. It is familiar in Islam to build such next to a tomb. It purifies the area and endow with a place of worship. The facsimile on the other sides is identified as the Jawab (answer). This is not supposed to be used for prayer as it faces away from Mecca.

The middle structure or the mausoleum on the platform is four-sided figure with beveled corners. Every one side is 56.6 m in length with a large central arch which flanks two pointed arches. Each corner has miniature domes while in the centre there is the core double dome on top of which is a brass finial. The exterior adornment is calligraphy, magnificently carved panels in bas relief and fabulous inlay work in the form of flawlessly proportioned hefty floral tendrils which envelop the surface of the white marble.

The focal chamber within is octagonal with a lofty domed ceiling designed to echo chants from the Quran and tunes of musicians. The central point of this chamber enclose false tombs of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan, who in fact were laid to rest in precise duplicate in a lower burial vault. The tombs are encircled by a marble screen, cut so delicately that it seems more or less translucent, spread out stippled light around. Both tombs are elegantly inlaid and bejeweled with precious stones which are the supreme in Agra. The 99 names of Allah prettify the apex of tomb of Mumtaz, and set into Shah Jahan's tomb is a pen box, the characteristic of a male ruler.

The pure white marble of Taj Mahal sparkle silver in the moonlight, shines delicately pink at dawn, and at end of the day reflects the blazing tints of the setting sun. Possibly the most excellent viewing of the Taj Mahal is from a small octagonal tower in the Agra Fort crosswise the River Yamuna. It was at this juncture that the Emperor Shah Jahan spent his final days as a prisoner of his son and usurper to the empire, Aurangazeb, and gaze at the tomb of his favorite wife Mumtaz.

Yanni, internationally much-admired composer and artist was the first ever western artist who performed at the Taj Mahal as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Independence of India.


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