1. It was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan.
Shah Jahan was a Mughal Emperor that lived from the year 1592 to 1666 C.E. The Taj Mahal is perhaps the most notable piece of work that he is known for, but Shah Jahan also undertook many other building projects such as Motī Masjid (Pearl Mosque), the Jāmiʿ Masjid (Great Mosque), and the fortifying the Peacock Throne and the Red Fort in Agra. He is the father to later Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. 1
2. It was built as a mausoleum (AKA a tomb.)
The Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) was built as the final resting place to Shah Jahan’s most favorite queen, Mumtaz Mahal, who sadly passed away after giving birth to their fourteenth child. It’s construction began in 1632 and was completed in 1648, almost twenty years after her death. 2 Even today, the Taj Mahal still symbolizes Shah Jahan’s undying love for her, and they are buried there side by side.
3. 20,000 Workers Were Employed to Build It
Shah Jahan hired over 20,000 workers to work on the Taj Mahal. The architecture of the mausoleum is a blend between Persian, Islamic, and Hindu influences. This is due to the variety of cultures who had their hands in the project.
The building of the Taj Mahal was a chance of a lifetime for those who worked on it; the two major architects of the project obtained permission to place their architectural stamps on the Taj Mahal as proof of their work. (Shown Above)
4. The Taj Mahal isn’t just the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal Complex has a square garden, a red sandstone gateway, a sandstone mosque and its jawab (mirror image.) And while the Taj Mahal is definitely the most magnificent, there are many other features that are worth seeing there.
5. According to local legend, Shah Jahan had the hands of the architects and workers cut off.
The legend states that this gruesome act was done so that the workers of the Taj Mahal would never be able to create anything else as beautiful. However, this mostly likely came from agreements not to construct anything as great, and no actual hand-chopping was done. (Thank goodness.) 3
6. In 1983 it became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For it’s remarkable feats in architecture, the Taj Mahal was justly awarded it’s status as a World Heritage Site in 1983. The UNESCO site has this listed for its criteria:
“Taj Mahal represents the finest architectural and artistic achievement through perfect harmony and excellent craftsmanship in a whole range of Indo-Islamic sepulchral architecture. It is a masterpiece of architectural style in conception, treatment and execution and has unique aesthetic qualities in balance, symmetry and harmonious blending of various elements.” 4
7. Shah Jahan spent years staring at the Taj Mahal when he was under house arrest.
In a later period, Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan’s son, imprisoned his own father within the Agra Fort in order to obtain power for himself. One of Shah Jahan’s last desires, was to be placed in a spot where he could see the Taj Mahal in his captivity, never wanting to lose sight of his wife’s memorial.
Shah Jahan was forcibly held captive in Agra Fort, until his death in 1666. Due to his wishes he was buried next to his wife in the Taj Mahal.
1 Iftikhar, Rukhsana. 2013. “Historical Fallacies: Shah Jahan’s Reign: Period of Golden Age.” South Asian Studies 28 (2): 361-367. https://libproxy.volstate.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1508688090?accountid=14861.
2 Ahmed, Akbar. 1993. “The Taj Mahal.” History Today, 05, 62. https://libproxy.volstate.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/202807246?accountid=14861.
3 “Taj Mahal.” History, Hisrory.com Staff, 2011. https://www.history.com/topics/taj-mahal
4 “Taj Mahal” UNESCO, UNESCO Staff. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252/
(General Information not accredited to one specific part of the blog.)
“Taj Mahal, India.” In Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, by Norbert C. Brockman. 2nd ed. ABC-CLIO, 2011. https://libproxy.volstate.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abcsacred/taj_mahal_india/0?institutionId=370?
“Taj Mahal.” In Architectural Excellence: 500 Iconic Buildings, edited by Paul Cattermole. Greene Media, 2008. https://libproxy.volstate.edu/login? url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/gmarchbuild/taj_mahal/0?institutionId=370
“Taj Mahal.” In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide, edited by Helicon. Helicon, 2016. https://libproxy.volstate.edu/login? url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/heliconhe/taj_mahal/0?institutionId=3707