Taj Mahal: 10 historical facts you didn't know
- 1 year ago
The Taj Mahal in Agra is an iconic example of Mughal architecture and it never ceases to amaze visitors with its enigma and jaw dropping beauty. Anyone who visits India has “The Taj” high up on their travel wish list. But we’re not going to talk about its mesmerizing magnificence here. You have probably read about the history of Taj in textbooks and seen millions of pictures but here are 10 interesting facts about the Taj Mahal that you probably weren’t even aware of.
1. An oft repeated legend has it that Emperor Shahjahaan chopped off the arms of artisans and masons who worked on the Taj so that its beauty couldn’t be replicated. This is fortunately an old wives’ tale with no basis in fact.
Shahjahaan: A benevolent ruler?
2. An Indian historian, Proff. P.N.Oak claimed that the Taj Mahal was initially a Hindu Temple named ‘Tejo Mahalya’. He elaborated upon this theory in his book “Taj Mahal: The True Story” which was published in 1995 and even filed a petition for a proper archeological investigation of the site. The petition was rejected for the lack of concrete evidence but the theory continues to live on.
3. ‘Mumtaz Mahal’ was a name given by Shahjahaan to Arjumand Banu Begum, his third wife, because of the deep love and affection he felt for her. The name translates to ‘Jewel of the Palace’. Shahjahan’s own official name was Prince Khurram.
Arjumand Banu Begum, famously known as Mumtaz Mahal
4. Earthquake-proof buildings are not a modern phenomenon. The outer minarets of the Taj Mahal were given a slight outward tilt to prevent them from falling on the mausoleum in the event of a tectonic shift.
5. Shahjahaan wished to build another structure of black marble mirroring the Taj on the other side of the Yamuna river. This wish of his remained tragically unfulfilled because he was captured and by his own son and kept imprisoned in the Agra Fort all through his later years.
6. The Taj Mahal is an outstanding example of perfection and symmetry, which is evident in its design and architecture. The only things that are not of the same size are the two tombs housed within it because tradition dictated that a male’s tomb should be larger than a female’s tomb.
Relax by the pristine gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal
7. The ornate tombs visible to visitors as they enter the Taj Mahal are cenotaphs. The actual bodies are buried in simple graves in the lower level of the structure.
8. It is said that over 22,000 people and a 1000 elephants were employed in the construction of this grand structure, which took close to 22 years to complete. However, there are no official court records documenting any of these details.
9. Passages from the Quran have been used to decorate the insides of the mausoleum and Mumtaz’s tomb has 99 names of “Allah” inscribed along its sides.
99 names of 'Allah' have been inscribed
10. Over 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones were ordered from around the world to beautify the finely constructed insides of the Taj Mahal. Many of these were looted by the British in 1857 during the Indian Rebellion. A few year later, Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India initiated an extensive restoration project that included all the surrounding lawns. The British influence can be seen around the Taj even today.