Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Standing The Test Of Time
The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” It is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. He recruited a labour force of twenty thousand workers from across northern India who labored for 21 years (1632-1653) to complete the tomb and it’s complex. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit.
Using materials from all over India and Asia, over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble. Unfortunately during the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiseled out these precious stones from its walls. For four decades the Taj remained in this defaced state, but at the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a sweeping restoration project, which was completed in 1908. During this time the garden was also remodeled with British-style lawns that are still in place today.
Visiting this legendary structure was an experience unto itself. Prior to visiting, a friend of mine of Indian decent tried to dismiss the Taj as ‘not all that impressive..’ And to him, I say: take a second look! 😀 Absolutely stunning. Magnificent. Incredible. Awe-inspiring. These are some of the terms I would use to describe the Taj Mahal. It really does deserve a spot amongst the Seven Wonders Of The World. I would recommend getting there for the sunrise, as the light is the best, and the crowds are the lightest. It can get pretty crowded by mid-day.