One of the world’s greatest love stories produced a timeless monument. The structure’s sheer beauty inspired poetic words from the builder himself. The monument is an engineering marvel that has been studied by scholars and historians alike. Visitors throughout history have been infatuated by the shrine’s elegance. Count Hermann Keyserling describes the monument as, "A massive marble structure, without weight, as if formed of ether, perfectly rational and at the same time entirely decorative (Taj Mahal, 2008).Keyserling went on to say, “It is perhaps the greatest art work which the forming spirit of mankind has ever brought forth (Taj Mahal, 2008)." An American novelist, Bayard Taylor referred to this structure as a castle in the air (Taj Mahal, 2008). Constructed as a tomb for the emperor’s deceased wife, the Taj Mahal stands as one of the greatest manmade creations in the history of the world.
The travel website, Taj Mahal, illustrates the origins of this monument. It was constructed to serve as a memorial and tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, the deceased wife of the emperor Shah Jahan (Taj Mahal, 2008). Before her death, while birthing Shah Jahan’s fourteenth child, she requested Jahan build a monument to honor her as stated by the Taj Mahal website (Taj Mahal, 2008). In 1631, construction began, and was finally completed twenty-two years later (Taj Mahal, 2008). Twenty-two thousand workers labored in constructing the monument bringing materials by elephant from many parts of Asia (Taj Mahal, 2008). The web site Islamic Architecture lists the Iranian architect Ustad Ahmed Lahwari as the key designer of the structure; however other architects played prominent roles in the monument’s design (Organization, 1995-2003).Over time, the estimated cost of building the Taj Mahal was around thirty-two million rupees. (Invis Multimedia, 2010).
The Taj Mahal is designed in the same style as other Islamic mausoleums constructed during this time period (Kleiner, 2010 pgs 38). The monument incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture while the dome on cube design of the central block is a common characteristic of Islamic buildings (Kleiner, 2010 pgs 38). Inspiration for the design, came from Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir or tomb of Timur, Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi (The Taj Mahal the tear on the cheek of history, 2007). Earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone though Shah Jahan requested the use of white marble layered with precious stones to be used in constructing the Taj Mahal (The Taj Mahal the tear on the cheek of history, 2007).
The Taj Mahal web site describes the complex’s five major components, the main gateway, the gardens, the mosque, the rest house and the main mausoleum. Taj Mahal is bounded on three sides by structures while the forth side faces the River Yamuna (Taj Mahal, 2008). The...