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Taj Mahal Architecture

Introduction
Taj Mahal Architecture Taj Mahal is situated in Agra city of Uttar Pradesh. As light has no need of candles as well as Taj Mahal has no need of introduction due to his popularity. Taj Mahal is undoubtedly one of the most discussed and popular of the seven wonders. Being a symbol of love of course helps with the popularity, but its timelessness is to be attributed to the absolute wonder that it is in terms of architecture. It is one wonder which exemplifies peace and calm in its every aspect from shape and form to usage of materials. It is an eclectic mix, picking only the best from the history's monuments and touching it up with the wonderful usage of materials. A high skilled labor force of around twenty thousand workers was involved in the making of Taj. They were all recruited from across India. The artistic effect of the Taj is obtained by its super structured, balanced and symmetrical combination of all the parts. The beautiful lush green gardens frame the structure perfectly. The fusion of lines, horizontal with vertical on the one hand and straight with curved on the other is a reflection of perfection. The Taj marks an achievement in the history of Mughal architecture. It formed the stage of the art from where it could only decline. Located in Agra, symbolizing eternal love, a mixture of Islamic, Persian and Hindu architecture, faced with white marble and red sandstone. Building the Taj Mahal was a major feat. Builders, designers, and artists were brought in from across the Mughal Empire as well as imported from Persia, Central Asia, and other Islamic kingdoms. The fondness of this project for Emperor Shahjahan can be guessed from the fact that this was probably the earliest record in Indian Architecture where a competition was held to select the final design. The architects were led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. For 22 years after ground was broken in 1632, the greatest artists and builders of the Islamic world were employed on this massive mausoleum. According to most sources, over 20,000 people worked on the Taj Mahal. When it was completed it included a main gateway, a mosque, a rest house, gardens, and the actual mausoleum itself, covering 42 acres of land in total.

Architecture
The Taj Mahal covers an area of 42 acres in total with the terrain gradually sloping from south to north, towards the river Yamuna in the form of descending terraces. The entire Taj complex consists of five major constituents, namely Darwaza (main gateway), Bageecha (gardens), Masjid (mosque), Naqqar Khana (rest house) and Rauza (main mausoleum). The main tomb of Taj Mahal stands on a square platform that was raised 50 meter above the riverbank and was leveled with dirt to reduce seepage from the river. The four minarets on each corner of this square are detached, facing the chamfered angles of the main and are deliberately kept at 137 feet to emphasize the beautiful and spherical dome that itself is 58 feet in diameter and 81 feet high. The western side of the main tomb has the mosque and on the eastern side is the Naqqar Khana, Both made in red sand stone. The two structures not only provide an architectural symmetry, but also make for an esthetic color contrast. One can only marvel at the mosque and the rest house as despite being on the opposite ends, the two are mirror image of each other.

Taj Gateways
The massive main gateway of Taj Mahal is 30 meters high and its construction was completed in 1648. The topmost part of the gateway includes chhatris. The gateway is decorated with the verses of the Holy Quran. The door of the gateway is made up of solid silver with letters engraved on it from top to bottom. All the letters to be appear of the same size to the naked eyes. Actually, the engravers enlarged and stretches the lettering as their distance from the ground increased, creating an illusion of uniformity of the naked eyes. After entering the gateway, there is a courtyard. This was the place where the poor were provided with foods and cloths.

Mosque in Taj
There is a mosque on the west side of the Taj Mahal that faces the holy city of Mecca. Historians believe that the mosque was constructed by Isa Muhammad. There are two small arches on both sides of the mosque and a portal on its exterior known as Iwan. The three domes and four kiosks are coated with marble. On the outside, the mosque has pietra dura work twinning across its sprandles. The platform in front of the mosque is of red sand stones. The interiors of the mosque are also well-designed as 569 prayer mats have been designed on the floor and the walls are engraved with the names of Allah and the verses of the Holy Quran. There is a mihrab in the mosque that tells the direction of Mecca. There is a stone of the size of 19feet by 6.5 ft that denotes the temporary grave of Mumtaz Mahal. There is a pool in front of the mosque where the Muslims perform ablution before prayers.

Taj Mahal Garden
The garden is in Islamic style of architecture. The garden in which the Taj Mahal is situated has spiritual symbol as the greenery symbolizes paradise mentioned in the Holy Quran. People can reach the garden after the main entrance. The garden is spread in the area of 580 into 300 meters. The garden is divided into sixteen flower beds and is separated by water courses.

Mausoleum
After crossing the garden, people reach the tomb which covers the area of 95 square meters. The plinth is 6.7 meter high and covers an area of 95 square meter. People can enter the tomb through a double staircase. There are four minarets each of 137 feet. They are made in such a way that they will not fall on the main tomb during a mishap or a natural calamity. One letter is engraved on each minar and on combining we get the name Ar-Rahman which is one of the many names of Allah.

Tomb Area
The tomb of the Taj Mahal is one of the beauties of the monument. The dome has the circumference of 110 yards and height is 107 yards. The tomb is based on Islamic structure which symbolizes the unification of heaven and earth. The square on which the tomb stands symbolizes the universe. In total, the whole dome symbolizes the throne of Allah as it is supported by pillars at four corners which symbolize the flow of grace. The tomb also includes the verses from the Holy Quran. The tomb is well-furnished with carpets, lamps, silver doors and others.

Pietra Dura (Stone Inlay)
Pietra Dura of the Taj Mahal explores the magnificence of the Mughal Art. It is a kind of carving into stone. It is a skillful art that requires hard Labor. The Taj also boasts of beautiful motifs and ornamentation in inlay or relief work. Both inlay and relief ornamentation at the Taj display immense honesty of the craftsmen and artisan towards his skill and craft. Although geometric motifs can be found in plentiful all over the Taj Mahal, majority of the ornamentation displays various plants and flowers which were famous with the royal Mughal families. Flowers have often been described as springing from the waters of the paradise in Persian lore and Quran. The dados of the outer wall and inner walls of the tomb are covered with such work of flowers and plants. Thus here at Taj Mahal they symbolize the bounty and reward from the Paradise for those who are faithful to Mohammad. Taj Mahal has helped in saving this art from being just a record in the annals, by keeping it alive and by being such an excellent example of it. This art form is now thriving in the local circles of artists in Agra and has demand all over the world. One more name that remains closely associated with the Taj Mahal, in particular with the superb calligraphic inscriptions displayed in the geometric friezes on the white marble, is that of the ingenious calligrapher, Amanat Khan, whose real name was Abd ul-Haq. This incomparable calligrapher, write Okada and Joshi, came to India from Shiraz, Iran, in 1609. Shah Jahan conferred the title of Amanat Khan upon this Iranian as a reward for the calligrapher's dazzling virtuosity. In all probability, Amanat Khan was entrusted with the entire calligraphic decoration of the Taj Mahal.

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