The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, located in Agra, India. It was built in 1632–1643 by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction began around 1632 and was fully completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. It is believed that over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. Some 22,000 labourers, painters, embroidery artists, and stonecutters were used.
The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision, including Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
It is a white, marble building of beautiful proportions, topped by an onion-shaped dome and stands on a raised platform amid gardens. The surfaces are decorated with precious stones in rich but delicate abstract patterns. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from the Punjab region, jade and crystal from China.
The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, 28 types of precious and semi-precious stone were inlaid into the white marble.
Inside the Taj Mahal, the cenotaphs honoring Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are enclosed in an eight-sided chamber ornamented with an inlay with semi-precious stones and a marble lattice screen. But the gorgeous monuments are just for show: The real sarcophagi are in a quiet room below, at garden level.
The Taj Mahal is built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharaja Jai Singh I with a large palace in the centre of Agra in exchange for the land.
An area of roughly 1.2 hectares (3 acres) was excavated, filled with dirt to reduce seepage, and levelled at 50 metres (160 ft) above the riverbank level. In the tomb area, piles were dug and filled with stone and rubble to form the footings of the tomb.
Instead of lashed bamboo, workmen constructed a colossal brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb. The scaffold was so enormous that foremen expected it to take years to dismantle. According to the legend, Shah Jahan decreed that anyone could keep the bricks taken from the scaffold, and thus it was dismantled by peasants overnight.
A 15-kilometre (9.3 mi) tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site and teams of 20 or 30 oxen pulled the blocks on specially constructed wagons. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to raise the blocks into the desired position.
Water was drawn from the river by a series of purs, an animal-powered rope and bucket mechanism, into a large storage tank and raised to a large distribution tank. It was passed into three subsidiary tanks, from which it was piped to the complex.
When Was Taj Mahal Built? The plinth and tomb took some 12 years to complete. The remaining parts of the complex took an additional 10 years and were completed in order of minarets, mosque and jawab, and gateway. Since the complex was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on “completion”.
Construction of the mausoleum itself was essentially completed by 1643 while work on the outlying buildings continued for another 10 years.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. People all over the world come to visit India just to have a sight of this marvellous view.
Can the Taj Mahal be sold? The thought of someone ‘selling’ the Taj Mahal might seem absurd and completely out of the world, but to everyone’s surprise, it may not be entirely untrue! In fact, a very popular figure in Indian history has tried selling the Taj Mahal three times!
It is none other than a con man and fraudster, Natwarlal, known as Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, who was born in 1912 and died on July 25, 2009. Known to be one of the greatest conmen in India, Natwarlal was a pro at forging signatures. He forged the signature of President to sell the monument.
Content for this question contributed by Nick Lembo, resident of Hillside, Union County, New Jersey, USA