India at a Glance
Taj Tour Guide
Taj Mahal History - In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death.The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal.The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.
The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.
Myth About Black Taj Mahal
Black Taj Mahal myth is concerned with another monument that was supposed to be built opposite the magnificent Taj, on the other side of the river. It is believed that another mausoleum, exactly identical to the original one, was to be built, dedicated to Shah Jahan himself. This monument is now called as the Black Taj, since it was to be constructed out of black marble. The legend of the Black Taj further goes on to suggest that it could not be erected, because, before this could happen, Shah Jahan got toppled by his son, Aurangzeb.
Some ruins of a black marble structure are said to have been found across the river. These ruins are believed to be those of the alleged Black Taj Mahal. However, later, it was discovered that the marble that was used had become black from staining and was not originally white.