Throughout time there have been great love stories where humans including mighty rulers have gone to great feats for the women they loved. We all know that the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built to enshrine the dead body of the Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Her truly is a testament to true love.
For those of you who do not know this epic love story, Emperor Shah Jahan, postponed the important pending war with Khan Jahan Lodi, to mourn the death of his one true love. When a mighty emperor puts aside the affairs of state for the his wife, one cannot find a truer, purer love than this, at least not in India during the Mughal Empire in 1630 A.D.
Upon news of the death of his beloved, a strange thing happened, the emperor’s beautiful black hair turned completely white as if in reverence of the death at hand. The emperor stripped himself of his colourful clothing to dress in white and so did the subjects of his kingdom, any offenders were sent to trial and executed if they were found guilty of dressing inappropriately and disrespecting the memory of the Queen. The Queen was dead and India was in mourning. Though India slowly returned to a semblance normalcy, Shah Jahan mourned the lose of Mumtaz Mahal for over 10 years.
A little over a year after her death, her corpse was transferred from Burhanpur to Akra where her remains were put in a temporary crypt erected in a private garden along the banks of a river; awaiting the construction of the world’s most wondrous mausoleum to be known as the great Taj Mahal. However, according to legend the magnificent structure’s history dates back to 1607 during a festival called the Royal Meena Bazaar.
The Royal Meena Bazaar held on palace property was a royal bazaar, trading marketplace held exclusively for women of aristocracy who purchased their extravagant dyes and perfumes and other luxury items. Any men found on the premises were arrested and most probably lost their hands and feet in the ordeal.
What is particularly interesting is that during certain times of the year the bazaar did a flip and men did the buying and selling while the women were excluded, also since this was a royal bazaar two days of the year the bazaar was actually open to the public. On those public occasions even the peasants could carry on business with high court officials including the emperor himself in a laid back fashion full of the customary haggling that went on for the purchase pricing of the goods for sale at the bazaar. These days were known as reversal days and so the courtiers and emperor were common folk and common folk were royalty. This was the custom, expect for the Wazir, (prime minister) Asaf Khan, who was greatly feared by his public. He did not partake in the role reversal days. However, his 15-year-old daughter, Arjumand Banu Begam did.
During the public day young Prince Khuram visited that bazaar in 1607 where he found the beautiful daughter of the Wazir at a stall. He purchased a diamond from her and the two fell in love though they did not see each other from that point forward. Meanwhile the prince did ask for her hand in marriage from the Wazir himself who was very pleased. They did not wed until five years later and they still not allowed to meet during their engagement. During the five-year period the prince took a Persian wife as was the custom (four wives and concubines allowed to men in Moslem law).
The emperor himself attended the wedding ceremony at the bride, Arjumand Banu Begam’s home in 1612. He bestowed upon her the highest honour, a new name, Mumtaz Mahal – Chosen one of the Palace.
The New princess was a joy to behold, beautiful, intelligent, politically savvy becoming the prince’s advisor, and kind and charitable to the public at large. Then the day came for the prince, Shah Sultan Khurram to ascend the thrown as emperor and to become Shah Jahan in 1628. So powerful was his empire that he was known as emperor of the world.
Queen Mumtaz bore him 14 children but only four survived. It was during the war with Khan Jahan Lodi that the Queen, whom had accompanied her husband to battle and was residing in Burhanpur with him, went into labor and bore him a daughter. The child was healthy but the Queen did not make it. Legend has it that Mumtaz made him promise on her deathbed that he would not impregnate another wife and he would build a mausoleum over her grave. It is said the bereaved emperor keep his promises on both accounts.
It took 22 years of work and 20,000 men to complete the mausoleum that was started in 1632. The workers came from India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and even Europe to compete the task. The Taj Mahal is spread over 42 acres of land and is estimated to have cost over 32 million rupees. The Taj Mahal is set on a platform and is shaped in an unequal octagon. The complex houses the main gateway, garden, mosque, jawab ( another building like the mausoleum) and mausoleum. The central dome is 213 feet high. There are four chambers of the main dome. The building inside and out has a flower and calligraphy pattern adored with agate and jasper other fine gems. Passages from the Quran are chiseled in the archways and the central dome and adjoining chambers are decorated in Islamic styles of architecture. The Queen’s tomb is raised on a platform in the center of what is designed as a courtyard. The rooms are studded in Jewels.
For a more elaborate description of the architecture see: http://www.exoticindiaart.com/article/tajmahal/2/
The Taj Mahal is considered one the seven wonders of the modern world or medieval world because of the new recent classifications, and upon viewing its magnificence no one would ever wonder why.