Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taj Mahal - A Marvel of Love

Taj Mahal , Agra India
Take a constitutional down Shahjahan Park in the chilly mauve light of dawn, and the pale white dome of the Taj Mahal, India looms in the distance. Set against the azure skyline, it looks like a mirage in a desert. Inch closer and the supreme majesty of the greatest monument to love comes into focus – with its dew-coated lawns and its pearl-white mausoleum.Travel to Taj Mahal Agra to baptize into the true glory of this passion of love. As the sun rises to cast a reverential beam on the sepulchre, the ‘dream in marble’ turns from lavender to yellow, while nightfall sees the monument bathed in moonlight – looking like a woman wreathed in smiles while waiting for her lover.There are many theories as at which time the Taj Mahal, India looks the best, but there is no substitute to viewing it at all hours of the day and the night if you want to understand its myriad facets. Taj Mahal, India is a microcosm of the universe – it contains within it both the yin and the yang, taking on a new personality to suit the occasion. It can be harsh, dry and strong like alabaster, delicately chaste and fragile like porcelain, noisily populous or quiet and secretive.
The Monumental Heritage
A copious amount has been written about the Taj – Agra’s window to the world. Nobel laureate Tagore called it ‘a tear on the face of eternity’, while the painter William Hodges wrote in 1876 that ‘it was like a most perfect pearl on an azure ground’. From Princess Diana to President Clinton to Yanni – the Taj draws every √©minence grise from across the ‘seven seas’ to it like a magnet. As Clinton said during his presidential visit to India, “the world is divided into those who have seen the Taj and those who have not.” The American President joined the list of ‘haves’ this year, but for anyone bitten by the travel bug, a visit to the luminescent monument is an essential part of their resume. To say the ‘miracle in human design’ is the Mughal Empire’s magnum opus is to state the obvious.Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, Omar Khayyam’s ‘Rubaiyat’ or Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’, the Taj instills in you a sublime passion. It uplifts you – one feels more significant as a human being within its confines than outside it.

The History Manifest
Taj Mahal India was made in commemoration of Arjumand Bano Begum. The queen was married at the age of 21 to emperor Jahangir's son Khurram. During all the phases of Khurram life, Arjumand Bano Begum supported him through out. She was like a supporting pillar in his life. In AD 1628, Khurram became king after a bloody battle of succession. He changed his name from Khurram to Shahjahan or the King of the World. Arjumand Bano also changed her name from Mumtaz Mahal.Mumtaz Mahal was not destined to be a queen for a long period of time. She died at the age of 39 while delivering a child at Burhanpur. That auspicious day turned into a mournful event. When Arjumand Banu Begum (better known as Mumtaz Mahal) died in childbirth in 1629, her husband, Emperor Shah Jahan immortalised their love by building the ‘dream in marble’ – the finest illustration of Mughal architecture. The dream took over 22 years to fructify and over 20,000 craftsmen were employed to build it.

Designing of Taj
Who designed the Taj Mahal India is shrouded in mystery – some historians credit the Venetian architect Veroneo with its construction, while others believe it was the work of a Persian called Ustad Isa.But we do know of the lesser luminaries connected to it with certainty – the central dome was built by Ismail Effendi from Turkey, the calligrapher was Amanat Khan from Shiraz, the mosaicist, Chiranji Lal hailed from Delhi while the goldsmith, Qazim Khan was summoned from Lahore.A story which is probably apocryphal but has been doing the rounds for generations, says that Shah Jahan had the chief mason’s right hand amputated to preclude him from replicating the ‘marvel in marble’ anywhere else in the world.

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