Destinations Magazine

The Taj Mahal

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

The Taj Mahal: One of the Eight Wonders of the World (February 2000)
In the spring of 2000, I was invited to India to do an author visit at a school in New Delhi.  My hosts arranged to take me to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I knew it was a famous tomb memorializing the love between a great emperor and his wife, but I was unprepared for its stunning beauty. As I stepped through the gate and saw the shining white domes framed against the sky I was amazed by the elegance of the design and the perfect placement of the building in its surroundings. I stayed until sunset and returned again at dawn.

The Taj Mahal

Gardens around the Taj Mahal are filled with flowers and birds

As I walked through the gardens, I tried to imagine what it had been like more than 300 years ago when the emperor of India walked these same paths. Did they bring back memories of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal? Was is what he had imagined in his dreams? I knew that the Taj Mahal would be the perfect subject for a book because of the love story that inspired it, the artistic and technical achievement of its architecture, and for what it tells us about Mughal culture in India.

The Taj Mahal

Inlaid stones decorate every surface of this column

The Taj Mahal

Craftsmen today continue the tradition of stone-inlay work

The Taj Mahal is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, beloved wife of Shah Jahan, who had the Taj built as a memorial to their love. White marble quarried in  Jodhpur was transported to Agra and cut into blocks to build the tomb.  The walls were inlaid with jewels and precious stones.  Gardens and reflecting pools were built on the grounds surrounding the tomb. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and was virtually complete by 1643.  After the Shah's death, he was entombed there as well.

The Taj Mahal

View of the Taj Mahal from the Mosque

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal first met when he was fifteen and still a prince and she was the daughter of one of his father's advisors. My favorite part of their story is their encounter of at the New Year's festival. Despite the difference in time of more than 300 years and a culture unlike our own, it is easy to imagine how a handsome prince could fall in love with a beautiful girl. It is a timeless story that could happen anywhere, anytime. 
The love story of the Taj Mahal is based largely on legend, for little has been recorded of the personal lives of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal together, as this would have been a sensitive topic, especially in an Islamic culture and society. 
The Taj Mahal is one of the supreme accomplishments of the Mughal Empire.  It has become a symbol to the rest of the world of the craftsmanship and artistic achievements of all of India. It is also a symbol of universal love.
My book, Taj Mahal, which chronicles the love story and the building of the Taj Mahal, is a collaboration with Madeleine Comora and illustrated by her husband Rahul Bhushan with beautiful paintings in the style of Mughal miniatures of the time. It was published by Carolrhoda Books in 2007.
The Taj Mahal

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By Taj Mahal India
posted on 16 October at 12:51
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The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble.