Taj Mahal

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The Taj Mahal (lit. 'Crown Palace') is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan it is part of a larger funerary-complex. Built to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself.

Overview

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.

The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal eight-sided structure that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. Each side of the iwan is framed with a huge pishtaq or vaulted archway with two similarly shaped arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building.

Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

Taj Mahal Complex

circa 1648 CE

The Taj Mahal Complex occupies an area of some 17-hectare (42-acre), which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643, but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years.

The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2020 would be approximately 70 billion rupees (about U.S. $916 million).

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