ACCESS 360° World Heritage: India

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Learn some facts about the Taj Mahal

1. Scaffolding of the Taj Mahal was made with bricks, probably due to lack of wood.

2. The name of the city Agra is apparently derived from the ancient Hindu sage Angira.

3. The brackish waters of the Yamuna river is the main water source for residents of Agra and has been for centuries.

4. The Taj Mahal derived its name is from the queen’s title, Mumtaz Mahal (‘Crown Palace’).

5. Mumtaz Mahal died after giving birth to her and Emperor Shah Jahan’s 14th child on a military campaign in the Deccan.

6. While the Taj Mahal was under construction, Mumtaz Mahal’s body was entombed at Burhanpur, and later brought to Agra.

7. Rajput rulers of Amer, nobles of the Mughal court, previously owned the land on which the Taj Mahal now sits. Four mansions (havelis in Hindi) were given in exchange to Mirza Raja Jai Singh for the land.

8. To the west of the tomb is a mosque, and on the east is an identical building, a guesthouse (Javab in Persian). Both structures were built mainly for symmetry.

9. The four minarets at each corner of the building are built in three stories separated by balconies supported on brackets, and crowned by dome pavilions.

10. The cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal) is placed beside the Emperor Shah Jahan’s at the center of the building, the only asymmetrical feature of the Taj Mahal complex.  

11. The minarets at Taj Mahal are purely ornamental.

12. The entire complex stands 50 meters above the riverbank. The Taj Mahal itself is 180 feet tall. The dome measures 60 feet in diameter and 80 feet high.

13. In most Mughal tomb complexes, tombs are placed in the centre of the garden. However, at the Taj Mahal, a reflecting pool is found at the centre of the garden. The tomb is located at the far end, overlooking Yamuna river.

14. The actual tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are directly beneath the cenotaphs.

15. The Taj Mahal took 20,00 workers, 1,000 elephants, untold riches, and 22 years to build.    

16. The mosque is usually part of the tomb complex as a prayer hall for those visiting for religious purposes. At the Taj Mahal, the mosque is still used for Friday prayer.

17. The main purpose of the guesthouse on the opposite side of the mosque is to balance the composition of the complex and keep the symmetry of the design.

18. Taj Mahal workmen constructed a colossal rick scaffold mirroring the inner and outer surfaces of the tomb in replacement of the typical scaffolding method, lashed bamboo.

19. A 15km tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and other material to construction sites. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to rise blocks into position. Mules and oxen provided lifting power.

20. Elephants and oxen hauled tons of marble for more than 200 miles to the Taj Mahal construction site.  

21. Workers from all around the Mughal Empire moved to build the Taj Mahal. They brought their families and started a community near the construction site, now part of the Taj Mahal complex known as the Taj Ganj.

22. The Taj Mahal is the first major tomb built for a woman. Usually, royal wives were buried in tombs built for their husbands. However, Emperor Shah Jahan was buried next to Mumtaz Mahal in a tomb complex designed for her.

23. Lord Curzon fought against plans to tear the Taj and ship the pieces to auction in England.

24. During WWII Taj Mahal was covered with an enormous scaffold resembling a pile of bamboo so that the enemy aircraft would recognize this landmark.

26. Materials used to build to Taj included pure white marble from Rajasthan; crystal and jade from China; lapis lazuli and sapphires from Sri Lanka; carnelian from Baghdad; and turquoise from Tibet.

27. During British rule, Taj Mahal’s finial was replaced from gold to bronze.

28. The Taj Mahal's dome is estimated to weight over 12,000 metric tons.




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