Mughals had mastered the art of designing monuments and the various structures designed by them in India are the finest archetype of their architectural skills. The monument which tops the list is Taj Mahal. It`s a majestic and magnificent mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal is the beautiful amalgamation of Mughal architecture and the designing of tomb. The tradition of designing tomb in India was begun with Humayun who was the great grandfather of Shah Jahan. Taj Mahal is known for majestic beauty, grandeur and excellence. In foreign countries, India is known as the land of Taj Mahal which is a boon for Indian Tourism.
The medieval period`s Islamic architecture dominates the design of the Taj Mahal. The kind of architecture Taj Mahal bears is called Indo-Islamic architecture. The Charbagh or four gardens are located around the mausoleum. In Persian style architecture, gardens are separated by water channels. However, mausoleum lies in the far end, attached to the bank of river Yamuna.
Taj Mahal is built on an uplifted platform and has four minarets at each side. At the center, these minarets enclose Octagonal structure that incorporate four smaller halls and the main central hall. The dome is surrounded by four “chhatris”. The “Jalis” of four arch and “chhatris” allow the natural light to enter into the main hall. The mausoleum is the two storied building. While aesthetically decorated central hall with precious and semiprecious stones contains cenotaphs of Mumtaj Mahal and Shah Jahan, their actual tombs are placed in the basement in direct line of upper hall.
The tomb of Taj Mahal is completely made of pure white marble and its walls, dome, façade are embellished with precious and semi precious stone works (pietra dura works). The Complex of Taj Mahal is divided into four major parts:
The Gateway of Taj
If seen from distant Taj Mahal appears like a miniature but appears growing when you start heading towards it and in the main entrance it seems to be disappeared. This illusion is created by massive Redstone which hides the Taj Mahal. The gateway of Taj is 30 meter high and it is decorated with verses of holy Quran and calligraphy.
The four gardens or Charbagh become visible once you leave the entrance. The lush green gardens separated by water channels are designed in Persian style and embellish the beauty of the Taj Mahal.
The tomb stands on the red sandstone platform and four corners of the tomb have 138ft. raised pillars of white marble and each pillar has eight windowed cupolas. Mumtaz Mahal`s tomb is centrally lined with the main entrance and rests directly below the dome. Aurangzeb placed the tomb of Shah Jahan and broke the symmetry.
The interiors and exteriors of Taj Mahal are beautifully decorated with Pietra Dura work. Even the crypt and cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan bear the extensive designs and sculptors in form of Pietra Dura. The dado frame and archway spandrels are allured with Pietra Dura inlays in highly stylized manner.