The Taj Mahal is the World’s Most Beautiful Mausoleum

by MSO
Cenotaphs of Mumtaz mahal and Shah Jahan inside Taj Mahal

These are the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal (right) and Shah Jahan inside the Taj Mahal.

When Mumtaz Mahal died on June 17th, 1631, her husband emperor Shah Jahan was devastated and went into mourning for a year. Though she was one of his three wives at the time, she was his favorite, his chief consort and the mother of his fourteen children. The emperor gave her the name Mumtaz Mahal which means ‘Jewel of the Palace’.

By all accounts Mumtaz Mahal was beautiful, compassionate and was deeply loved and trusted by her husband. She was born of Persian nobility and became engaged to her husband when she met him at a bazaar at the age of 14, Shah Jahan was 15. They did not marry for five years as they were waiting for astrologists to announce the best date to ensure a happy marriage. She travelled everywhere with him and died in childbirth in Burhanput, India where her husband was engaged in a military campaign. She was 37 years old.

On her death bed it is said that she asked her husband to promise her four things.The first promise was that Shah Jahan should erect a monument dedicated to their love. The second promise was that he would marry again. The third promise was he would be kind to their children and the fourth and final promise was that her husband would visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the first two promises, and as he was deposed by his son, perhaps not the third and history doesn’t tell us if he tried to keep the fourth promise.

When Mumtaz Mahal died she was buried temporarily in an airtight tin casket containing herbs that would preserve her body but in December of that year was brought back to her home in Agra, her body transported in a gold casket until her final resting place was complete.

Crypts of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

These are the actual crypts, lying on the floor beneath the cenotaphs where Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are actually interred.

At the time of her death, Shah Jahan began planning an elaborate mausoleum and surrounding gardens for his wife. It took him 22 years to complete the Taj Mahal.

Its white marble structure, inlaid with 28 different semi-precious stones is today a World Heritage Site lying on 17 hectares of property bordering the Yamuna River. It is still today a marvel of Mughal architecture combining Indian, Persian and Islamic influences.

One thousand elephants were used to transport construction materials from sources across India and Asia. Twenty thousand masons, artists, sculptors, jewellers and calligraphers were assigned to the job that cost the equivalent of about $1.3 million US to build. Shah Jahan depleted the royal treasury during construction. Legends have flourished about the construction and stories about Shah Jahan severing the hands of the artisans who helped build the Taj Mahal were nothing more than myth.

Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb is the central focus of the Taj Mahal. Its large dome which is 115 feet high is the final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal and later Shah Jahan who died in 1666. Shah Jahan was deposed by his son and imprisoned in an Agra fort across the river. He spent the last eight years of his life unable to visit the Taj Mahal but he could look at it from the balcony where he was imprisoned.

 

 

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