later by a monument that draws millions of visitors and captivates them with its beauty and wonder.
The Taj Mahal in Agra is a testament to enduring love and
the grief that can accompany its loss It was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco and is considered one of the wonders of the modern world.
The Taj Mahal is a beautiful marble mausoleum built in the seventeenth century. It was planned and built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died of complications giving birth to their fourteenth child.
Shah Jahan was a Mughal emperor in the early seventeenth
century. He became engaged to Mumtaz Mahal when they were fourteen and fifteen years old. The wedding didn't take
place for five years; they were waiting for the most propitious moment as predicted by the astrologers.
He had two other wives but Mumtaz (renamed this at their marriage as it means Chosen One) was his love. They were devoted to each other. She travelled with him when he was on diplomatic journeys or even going to war. He trusted her so completely he gave her the imperial seal.
When Mumtaz was ready to give birth to their fourteenth
child, they were travelling abroad on a military campaign, and when she died of a hemorrhage after the birth of their daughter, The Shah buried her in a garden of Zainabad. He went into deep mourning for a year, in isolation. When he was finally coaxed back by his daughter to resume his duties and public life, he had aged in a remarkable way. His hair had turned completely white and his body had become that of an old man.
He began plans to build a beautiful mausoleum to honour
Mumtaz and to bring her back home for reburial. It took twenty one years to complete and employed many artists and craftsmen and architects .A thousand elephants were used to move the building materials, Twenty eight varieties of precious and semiprecious stones adorn the artwork.
Beautiful calligraphy inscriptions quoting passages from the Koran are written throughout the complex. . It was completed in 1653.
The Taj Mahal has at its centre the tomb, topped by a
spectacular marble dome. Around the tomb are corridors, structures and minarets laid out in a symmetrical pattern.
Other main features are a reflecting pool, gardens and a mosque. The Taj Mahal is designed in such a way that it changes colour and appearance depending on the time of day and the way the sun or moon lights it. It is pink in the morning and turns a rich golden colour in the evening.
Another tomb was planned across the river built of black
marble but it was never completed. The Shah's sons were fighting for control of the realm and his energies were taken up with the disputes. He was imprisoned by one of his sons who declared him incompetent to rule.
When the Shah died he was buried in the tomb beside his
wife in a much less grand ceremony.
The Taj Mahal was described by poet laureate Gurudev Rabendronath Tagore as "A teardrop in the face of eternity."