Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Legend of Taj II : "A Journey Inside the Taj Mahal"

My last post based on the exterior review and the history of Taj. Famous as Temple of Love; The Taj Mahal, a graceful architectural structure of India is renowned for its symmetry.

The Mosque and the Jawab


To the left of the Taj is a mosque made of red sandstone. It is common in Islam to build a mosque next to a tomb, as it sanctifies the area and provides for a place for worship. This mosque is still used for Friday prayers.



The platform in front of the Mosque is of red sandstone. A highly polished small marble piece is so fitted that it serves as a mirror and one can see the mausoleum reflected in it. The floor is of material which is exceedingly fine and sparkling and appears velvet red in shade.


On that 539 prayer carpets have been neatly marked out with black marble. All over there is exquisite calligraphy and the name Allah and quotations from Quran inscribed. The ceiling is painted in a strange, hypnotic design. The roof supports four octagonal towers and three elegant domes.

An identical mosque is also built to the right of the Taj and is known as the Jawab (answer). Prayers are not held here as it faces west i.e. away from Mecca, the holy city of the Muslims. It was built to maintain symmetry.

Interior of the Taj


In the center of the  a lofty central chamber are the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is to the left and is higher than that of his beloved which rests immediately below the dome. 

The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal stands in the center of the marble screen, it has inscribed on it in Persian with texts from the Quran. The cenotaph has the single epitaph inscribed on it - "Marqad Munavvar Arjumand Ban Begum Mukhatib bah Mumtaz Mahal Tanifiyat ferr sanh 1040 Hijri" (Here lies Arjumand Bano Begum called Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1040 AH or 1630 AD).

The cenotaph of Shah Jahan is inscribed in Persian - "Marqad Mutahar Aali Hazrat Firdaus Ashiyani Sahib-qiran Saani Saani Shah Jahan Badshah taab surah sanh 1076 Hijri" (The sacred sepulchre of his most exalted Majesty, dweller of Paradise, the second lord of constellations, the king Shah Jahan, may his mausoleum ever flourish, 1076 AH (1666 AD).




Above the tombs is a lamp, the flame of which is supposed to never burn out. Marble screen of trellis work surrounds the graves.The acoustics of the building are superb with the domed ceiling being designed to echo chants from Quran.

The octagonal screen made of marble panels called 'Jali', with borders of inlaid marble surrounds the two cenotaphs in the central chamber. Each of the jali, including the larger doorway and north face, were carved from single slabs of marble. Designs based on floral patterns create an enchanting woven effect through which one can catches glimpses of the cenotaphs inside.


Considering the above, the placement of Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is the only asymmetrical sculpture in the whole building. The Story of a Second Taj will be my Next Post.

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