Taj mahal, a monument defying words has been attracting a lot many visitors since the time immemorial. The shining white monument has been a centre of attraction gathering lot of praises for its spell binding gorgeousness from all around the world. The number of visitors to Taj Mahal has consistently been increasing with the data revealing about 2 to 4 million people visiting Taj Mahal each year. Taj Mahal grabbing a huge appreciation from each corner is now the one of the most loved monuments of the world. So far it’s too good! The facts portray a totally idealistic picture of Taj Mahal with almost no sophistications. But is the actual story this idealistic? Are there no blemishes in the flickering beauty of the monument? Is the picture as clean as it appears? Of course not! There are a lot many hidden truths trying to taint the crystal clear image of the monument. And yet again the question arises, whether these hidden mysteries are capable enough to arouse a sense of curiosity amongst the people? The answer is yes. The question ‘how’ is what i have tried to address in my work. What we need to do is to sail through the sea of mysteries, try to catch a few of them and unwrap them in order to extract relevant reasons, strong enough to support the stand. And this is exactly what I have focussed upon. The hidden truth might be ugly, might be tarnishing even but surely it is not strong enough to overshadow the mesmerising appearance of the Taj Mahal. These hidden stories are explored in the article and a justification is concluded to find an optimistic approach from a messed up basket.
"The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs and makes sun and moon shed tears from their eyes. In this world this edifice has been made to display, thereby, the Creator's glory." –Shah Jahan. A mere saying by Shah Jahan is sufficient to arouse a lot of questions in one’s mind. Can a mansion be attractive enough to grab the attention of the heavenly bodies? How can it be possible that sun and moon shed tears in the sorrow of a mansion? And above all the question why a lot of mysteries always seem to revolve around the beautiful Taj Mahal? “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious”, a famous quote by Albert Einstein would be the most appropriate choice to explain the mysterious simplicity of Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal the “Crown of Palaces” built by A'la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Shah Jahan (also known as, Shah Jahan), the fifth Mughal emperor, in memory of his third wife, Arjumand Banu (also known as, Mumtaz Mahal) stands firm since 1653 creating an attractive aura mesmerising enough to make it one of the most loved place in the world by the tourist. The white marble monument of Agra, Uttar Pradesh leaves the spectator spellbound for its beauty and uniqueness. The quality of it being so simple yet so unique contributed to putting it in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Is the fascinating beauty of the Taj Mahal the only factor responsible for attracting millions of tourists each year? Is the story of Taj Mahal only confined to its beauty? Are there no more hidden secret beneath this beautiful monument? The answer to all these questions is no.There are a lot number of more factors augmenting its magnetic nature, many more shocking truths buried beneath it and many more stories acting as a pillar on which the humongous structure stands firm.
The reason behind the inception of Taj Mahal was a devoted love story of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is believed that in 1631, Mumtaz Mahal (the Persian princess) died while giving birth to their 14th child. After the incident Shah Jahan was grieve-stricken and hence in the memory of his beloved wife he established Taj Mahal. Their love story is rather an inspirational one portraying a feeling of devotion towards one another. This tinge of selfless devotion towards one’s beloved surely augments the attractiveness of the monument and compels the tourist lovers to visit this heritage site with their lovable. Hence it serves as another major factor making it a highly loved monument among the people of all ages. Yet another belief that upon Shah Jahan's death, he was buried in the mausoleum next to his wife further adds, to the devotion that monument depicts.
Moreover, the taste of mystery is stressed upon, when one talks about the architecture of the Mansion. The architecture possesses a whole lot of hidden stories some partially revealed whereas some others yet to be revealed. Interestingly, the complete architecture of Taj Mahal is the combination of three styles of architecture which are Hindu, Islamic and Persian. The three styles each carrying its own relevance are equally important aspects of the monument hence depicting a pure fusion of culture. This fusion is another compelling factor grabbing the interest of a lot of people in the mysteries of the monument.
Moreover, Taj Mahal is symmetrical from all the four sides and has gates at each of the four sides. Of these four gates the south gate is the functional one. Further moving into the specifications, the tomb is the focal point standing on a square base, which is a multi-chambered cube forming an octagon with huge pishtaqs on each corner. The marble dome crowning the tomb is a beautiful structure and is also known as onion. Other features which can be observed are Iwan, Chattris, Guldastas and Finial. The four minarets are 40 metres tall having three divisions and also a Chattri like on the dome. Further the Taj Mahal is also surrounded by The Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza), The Taj Mahal Mosque and a Moonlight garden to the north of Yamuna known as Charbagh each of which amplifies the dazzling effect of Taj Mahal. Is architecture alone, a factor strong enough to make Taj Mahal one of the eight wonders of the world? Is it a reason supportive enough to make Taj Mahal one of the most lovable monuments of the world? Yes of course it is, may be not alone but surely yes, when amalgamated with the tricks and the mysteries hidden behind the architecture.
Many tricks have been used in building up of the Taj Mahal. A few of them being optical tricks whereas a few others being the architectural tricks, hence making it a curiosity arousing masterpiece. One of the optical tricks is the view that one receives from its main gate. The main gate with respect to Taj Mahal is built in such a way that the more the visitor walks towards the main gate looking at the Taj Mahal, the more the Taj Mahal seems to appear smaller instead of appearing bigger and once the visitor starts walking away from main gate the Taj Mahal appears to get bigger and bigger. The process if one observes is a reverse one. Normally when a person moves towards an object it is meant to look bigger as one proceeds and vice versa. But the interesting fact with Taj Mahal is that it depicts completely opposite behaviour. And here the concept of curiosity, the touch of mystery comes into picture. This surely can be a factor pulling a lot of people’s attention and allotting a permanent storage to Taj Mahal in their mind and hence truly justifying the quote stating that if you go away from the Taj you take Taj in your heart.
Yet another optical cum architectural trick persists in the minarets surrounding the Taj Mahal which thus makes it a ‘piece de resistance’. The minarets normally seem to be absolute vertical (90 degrees) but they are rather tilted slightly (92 degrees rather than 90 degrees) away from Taj Mahal. If they were to be absolute vertical (90 degrees) then they would appear leaning towards Taj Mahal. Interestingly the leaning minarets are of a great advantage to Taj Mahal. The minarets as are leaning outwards if got struck by an earthquake then instead of falling on Taj they will fall away from Taj assuring no harm to Taj Mahal. Now the question whether architecture can attract audience by making them curious actually does got supporting reasons to justify the answer ‘Yes’.
However, the other aspects also have their own contribution towards inducing an appeal of attractiveness in Taj Mahal. The fact that makes it a tour de force is the covering of monument with white marbles. The white marble is the symbol of purity, immortality, royalty which gives it a shining touch making it appear more attractive and adorable. Moving in the interior part of the Taj Mahal one can observe different designs of floors embedded with many kinds of precious stones like jasper, agate, carnelian, turquoise, tiger's eye, lapis lazuli, malachite, and coral. The varying material used in the interior part of Taj Mahal shows an amalgamation of the variety of different sources which have contributed to its establishment, a yet another fusion of cultures. An optical trick on the inside walls of Taj Mahal can be observed as well. There are many beautiful carvings of calligraphy filled with black marbles and as one looks up the walls, the size of the letters goes on increasing doesn’t matter from which angle you look. This fact again strengthens the stand taken earlier on the question of architecture attractiveness.
Moreover, it is believed that during the British regime in India many of the precious stones were taken off from the walls of Taj Mahal by British soldiers. But at the end of 19th century British Viceroy, Lord Curzon ordered British soldiers to restore all the precious stones taken from the Taj Mahal along with a lamp as a gift from the English men, which still is hanging in the interior chamber of Taj Mahal. This historic alteration by the British Viceroy acts as another factor making it worth remembering.
Interestingly, the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal situated at the centre of the mausoleum has these remarkable words embedded on it “OH LORD HELP US BEAR WHAT WE CANNOT BEAR”. This thus brings a question of faith in the picture. Be it a simple line but it actually does carry a motivational message, a message of faith, a message of belief in god and in the ultimate superpower. An interesting achievement of Taj Mahal is that it eliminates all the barriers of religion and allows the people of different religion from all around the world to visit place all at once and praise its beauty. No matter whether a person is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or a Persian, Taj Mahal will always remain Taj Mahal, giving equal right to each person to praise its worth and to spend time in its lap.
Moreover, the Taj Mahal as is headed southwards, every time the sun shines the white marble appears even brighter. Another interesting fact about Taj Mahal is that it appears to change its colour at different times of the day. According to some people these changing colours depict the changing moods of a woman. Taj Mahal at the time of sunshine appears like a diamond, shining, sparkling white leaving a person watching it totally hypnotised. When so many factors blend together, they are surely meant to make a perfectly picturesque view which makes the taj mahal reside in one’s memory as well as one’s heart forever.
A myth however has been surrounding the Taj Mahal since its inception. The myth being that Taj Mahal was once Lord Shiva’s temple. Professor P.N. Oak, who was a soldier, writer and was known for historical revisionism, in his book (Taj Mahal: The true story) describes Taj Mahal as Lord Shiva’s temple. He even filed a petition in Supreme Court regarding this. The reasons given by him were that the name of the monument “Taj Mahal” was not after the name of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. To strengthen his views he stated that her name actually was Mumtaz-Ul-Zamani and not Mumtaz Mahal. Secondly, in Muslims, the word “Mahal” was never used for any mausoleum or mansion in the history of any Muslim countries. And thirdly, the word “Taj” doesn’t make any sense though as nobody omits the first three letters ‘Mum’ from woman’s name. It was named after the Lord Shiva’s temple which was known as “Tejo Mahalya” and hence later named as Taj Mahal.
The final interpretation of the fact is still a cause celebre and will continue to exist as one.
The Taj Mahal being one of the most beautiful and eminent monument of the world is wrapped with devotional and immense love circulating in between a lot of mysterious facts and myths. True love and mysterious facts together although makes a weird combination but surely is the best recipe to make it the most lovable building across the world. Although many facts have been revealed, many are still to be revealed putting it in the zone of continuous discoveries.
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