Taj Mahal & Its Secrets – The Concept of Eternal Love ❤️Travel.
I’ll never be able to tell you the wondrous story of the Taj Mahal (as beautifully said and done by our tour guide), and probably never give justice to it. But here are 5 incredible secrets you may never have known about this magnificent structure in Agra, India.
Before I share with you these 5 secrets, let’s go a little bit back in time.
Shah Jahan, the 4th Mughal emperor of India, met Mumtaz Mahal at a marketplace when he was just 14 years old. It was love at first. After meeting Mumtaz, Shah Jahan quickly went back to his father, telling him that he’d like to marry her. They got married 5 years later.
Although Shah Jahan had 3 other wives, Mumtaz had always been his personal favourite. However, during the labour of their 14th child, Mumtaz fell incredibly ill and Shah Jahan was left devastated. When Mumtaz passed away, Shah Jahan made it his mission to build her an everlasting memorial and resting place.
Shah Jahan took inspiration from the Qur’an’s detailed description of Heaven, thus the Taj Mahal.
To further ensure that no other living structure would be able to replicate the Taj Mahal, he made an agreement with the building’s artists. In exchange of a hefty payment, they promised to never create any other art or design in their lifetime.
Taj Mahal is perfectly symmetrical (well, almost)
Its gardens, which represent “paradise”, are divided into quadrants, and twin red sandstone buildings (a mosque facing east, and the other facing west) give the mausoleum complex a balanced harmony. Except for one. Because, ironically, the only asymmetry is from the maker’s tomb – Mumtaz’s crypt occupies the center stage and Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is strangely positioned west of the central axis, throwing everything off proportion.
Both of the cenotaphs are empty
Inside the Taj Mahal, you would see 2 cenotaphs laying side by side each other. It is enclosed in an eight-sided chamber ornamented with an inlay containing semi-precious stones, called pietra dura, and marble lattice screen. However, these are all for show. The real ones are placed in a quiet room below at garden level.
Optical illusions can be spotted everywhere
Upon approaching the main gate that perfectly frames the Taj Mahal, the monument appears to be incredibly close and large. But as we get closer and closer to the actual Taj Mahal, it starts to shrink in size (yes, the exact opposite of what you’d expect).
The minarets, though it seems that they are standing upright, they’re actually leaning 3.5 degrees outward, serving both form and function. This is because, should an earthquake hit the area, the pillars would fall away from the monument not on it.
There’s an extra dome in Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal’s total height is about 254 ft, almost 74 meters. Inside, there is an inner dome with a 2 meter gap in between, separating it from the outer dome. The reason for the double dome is to create the real essence of Shah Jahan’s love towards Mumtaz Mahal – through echo. Imagine calling out your partner’s name, and hearing his/ her name again and again. It’s almost as if he/ she’s just right there next to you.
It’s not just a symbol of love, but also of power & grief
Though Shah Jahan has proven & shown his love for Mumtaz in various ways – through perfect symmetry, marble inlay, garden pattern, changing of Taj Mahal’s colour, double dome, … and many more. We can’t hide the fact that behind all that, Shah Jahan suffered so much pain and grief. Not only because of Mumtaz’s death, but also with his children.
Taj Mahal was constructed from 1631-1653 (exactly 22 years). From 1653-1658, amongst his 14 children, 7 died from natural death. He was left with 3 sons and 4 daughters. The eldest amongst the 3 wanted to become a king. And so, he seized every opportunity to kill his siblings, and kept Shah Jahan locked up in Agra Fort. For 8 years, until Shah Jahan’s death, he saw Taj Mahal from afar. His one and only request was, to lay his tomb beside Mumtaz Mahal’s.
What was the greatest thing you ever did for love?
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