Friday, August 5, 2011

The Legend Of Taj III :: "Black TajMahal"; The Story of a Second Taj

There have always been some beliefs, legends and myths related to the famous historical monuments all over the world. And it is nothing surprising that most visited travel destination in India, the Taj Mahal in Agra, is engulfed with myths and legends.

The Taj Mahal is one fine example of how to plan and successfully apply symmetry into the proceedings. Every inch of Taj Mahal is a breathing example of it, except for one thing: the cenotaph of Shah Jahan himself, which appears to be an afterthought as it was added much later and disassembles the symmetry of the burial chamber as it is bigger in size when compared to the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal.

Ever wondered why is this the only unsymmetrical thing in the entire Taj complex?

The legend has it, that Shah Jahan decided to construct another Taj Mahal in black marble  on the other side of the river Yamuna and to connect the two by a bridge. This structure was intended to be his own tomb. It has been recorded by Tavernier- a French merchant: "Shah Jahan began to build his own tomb on   the other side of the river but the war with his sons interrupted his plan and Aurangzeb who reigns at present is not disposed to complete it".

Some scholars believe that Shah Jahan had never meant for himself to be buried along with his wife but was planning something big. Something that if was seen in actuality, would have been literally beyond the scope of words. Scholars believe this "something big" to be another Taj Mahal, but built in black marble instead of white. Tavernier who visited Agra in 1665 first mentioned the idea of Black Taj in his fanciful writings. And considering Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry, the idea certainly seems plausible.The Mehtab Burj and the wall adjoining it opposite the Taj Mahal are generally said to be the grim remains of the proposed plan.

Further addition for the same is as some scholar suggests that the blackened marbles in Mehtab Bagh that lie on the other side of the river are actually grim remains and foundations of an abandoned plan. On the other hand, other section of scholars totally dismiss the theory of Black Taj as it was discovered that the black marble remains in the Mehtab Bagh are not natural black but have become black over the course of time due to staining and wear and tear. Also, Mehtab Bagh was built by the first Mughal Emperor Babur, years before construction of Taj Mahal even started.

Based on Islamic tradition, a husband’s coffin is placed to the right of his wife, with faces towards Mecca. The cenotaph of the emperor Shah Jahan was later added to the monument, so it was squeezed next to the empress’ coffin.  His cenotaph stands to the left of his wife’s and is a little higher than hers too. This is one of the major flaws which catch the eye in the otherwise perfect Taj.
Legend says that Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb added this to the Taj, rather than building a separate mausoleum for the emperor to destroy the faultless design of the Taj Mahal.

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