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Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal
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Shah Jahan, Mogul emperor of India, built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his beloved consort Arjunand Banu, who was also known by the title Mumtaz Mahal ("the chosen one of the palace"). She was the emperor's favorite among the many wives granted him by the Islamic faith. Mumtaz Mahal died during delivery of their fourteenth child, thus ending one of the most celebrated love stories in Indian lore. The emperor, forlorn and disconsolate, wanted the mausoleum designed, according to legend, as an extraordinary representation of the throne of God in paradise.

Located in the city of Agra, in Northern India, the white marble monument was built between 1632 and 1648 (although some sources date it between 1630 and 1652). Construction unfolded under the auspices of architects from Persia, Turkey, Venice and France.

No less than 20,000 laborers had a hand in the project. The monument stands on a platform running roughly 308 feet when viewed from the side. It is capped by an 85-foot high dome and a pinnacle surrounded by four minarets. The octagonal funeral hall is situated in the middle of the basement. The exterior-inlaid with semi-precious stones which replicate verses from the Koran, flowers and geometric patterns-is encircled by a garden decorated with fountains and canals.

The Taj Mahal, which means "crown of the palace," is regrettably the only vestige of Shah Jahan's ambitious project, which was to culminate with the building of his own mausoleum across the Jumna River. Modeled after the Taj Mahal, his black marble monument would have been linked to its "female" counterpart by a black and white marble bridge. The Mogul emperor of India died before he could undertake its construction. He now rests next to his beloved until the end of time.


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