Taj Mahal is one of the world's seven wonders and pactically everyone has seen countless pictures of it. But, what very few people know is the story behind this unparalleled monument. The Taj Mahal is nothing less than an ode to love, representing the eloquence this feeling can have. For centuries, the Taj Mahal inspired poets, painters and musicians, that have tried to capture its magic and turn it into words, colours and music. Travellers have crossed entire continents to see its majestic beauty and very few of them were indifferent to it.
Like many other stories, this one also starts with a "once upon a time"... Once upon a time, there lived a prince called Kurram who fell in love with a princess when he was 15 years old. According to the story, their paths accidentally crossed and their destinies were forever bound together. After waiting for five years, during which they were never allowed to see each other, their marriage took place in 1612. During the wedding cerimony the emperor rebaptized her Mumtaz Mahal or "the palace's chosen one". The prince was crowned in 1628 with the name Shah Jahan, "King of the world" and reined in peace.
As destiny would have it, Mumtaz was not queen for long. After giving birth to Shah Jahan's 14th child, she died in 1631. She was 39 years old. The emperor was heartbroken and, according to history, the entire court mourned her death for the next 2 years. During this period, there was no music, parties or celebrations of any kind in the entire kingdom.
Shah Jahan ordered that a monument, the likes of which had never been seen before, should be built, so that the world would never forget her. The architect is not known, but the world's greatest riches were gathered in Agra: fine white marble, jade, crystal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, agate, saphire, amethyst, coral, quartzo and ambar.
Thus the Taj Mahal was built. Its name is a short variation of Mumtaz Mahal... The name of the woman whose memory it preserves. The name "Taj" has a Persian origin and means "crown". "Mahal" is Arabic and means "place". Duly framed in a simetrical garden, typically muslim, divided into squares and crossed by a canal ladden with cyprest, where its most imponent image is reflected. Inside, the mausoleum is also impressive. In the dusk, the chamber is surrounded by thin walls of marble, encrusted with precious stones that form a coat with thousands of colours. The sonority inside the chamber is sad and mysterious, like an echo that sounds and resounds unstoppably.
On top of the building, there's a splendorous dome, that is Taj Mahal's crown. It's surrounded by four smaller domes and in the platform's extremities, four towers were built with a slight tilt, so that, should they fall, the main building isn't at all affected.
Its Arabic exterior is decorated with Muslim drawings and semi-precious stones, encrusted into its white marble, following an Italian technique used by Hindu craftsmen. These encrustments were made with such precision that the joints are only noticeable using a magnifying glass. A seven-centimetre flower, for example, can have up to 60 distinct encrustations and the adornments in the windows were made from blocks of solid marble.
Some say that emperor Shah Jahan also wanted to build his own mausoleum on the other side of the river. It would've been even more gobsmacking and expensive, made from black marble, united with the Taj Mahal by a golden bridge. Such a project was never put into action, though. After being deposed by his son, the emperor was put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort and, from there, he could watch his work until his death. After his death, he was buried in the Taj Mahal, which became Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal's eternal resting place.
After nearly four centuries, Taj Mahal is still able to attract millions of visitors every year... It will forever be a lonely tear in time.
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