Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque Built From Makrana Marble

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Coordinates: 24.412°N 54.474°ECoordinates: 24.412°N 54.474°E
Location United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Branch/tradition Sunni
Ownership Government
Architectural information
Capacity over 40,000
Dome(s) 82 domes of seven different sizes
Dome height (outer) 85 m (279 ft)
Dome dia. (outer) 32.2 m (106 ft)
Minaret(s) 4
Minaret height 107 m (351 ft)
Construction cost 2 billion dirhams
(USD $ 545 million)

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Arabic :???? ????? ???? ??????) is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.[1]

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His final resting place is located on the grounds beside the same mosque.

As the country’s grand mosque, it is the key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. It is the largest mosque in the UAE and numbers during Eid can be more than forty thousand people.[2]

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) offices are located in the east minarets. SZGMC manages the day to day operations, as a place of worship and Friday gathering and also a center of learning and discovery through its educational cultural activities and visitor programs.

The library, located in the north/east minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years. In reflection of the diversity of the Islamic world and the United Arab Emirates, the collection comprises material in a broad range of languages including Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Korean.
Contents
[hide]

1 Design
2 Dimensions and statistics
3 Some key architectural features
4 Gallery
5 See also
6 References
7 External links

[edit] Design

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s design and construction ‘unites the world’, using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates. More than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction of the Mosque. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. The design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by both Mughal and Moorish mosque architecture, particularly the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca being direct influences. The dome layout and floorplan of the mosque was inspired by the Badshahi Mosque and the architecture was inspired by both Mughal and Moorish design. Its archways are quintessentially Moorish and its minarets classically Arab. The design of the Mosque can be best described as a fusion of Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture.[3]
[edit] Dimensions and statistics

The mosque is large enough to accommodate over 40,000 worshipers. The main prayer hall can accommodate over 7,000 worshipers. There are two smaller prayer halls, with a 1,500-capacity each, one of which is the female prayer hall.[4]

There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard which rise about 107 m (351 ft) in height. The courtyard, with its floral design, measures about 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft),and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.[5]

Sivec from Prilep, Macedonia was used on the external cladding (115,119 square metres of cladding has been used on the mosque, including the minarets)
Lasa from Italy was used in the internal elevations
Makrana from India was used in the annexes and offices
Aquabiana and Biano from Italy
East White and Ming Green from China[6]

[edit] Some key architectural features

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has many special and unique elements: The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet made by Iran’s Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi.[7] This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.[8]

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from Germany that incorporate millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque, the third largest in the world and has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.[9]

The pools along the arcades reflect the Mosque’s spectacular columns, which becomes even more glorious at night. The unique lightning system was designed by lightning architects Jonathon Speirs and Major to reflect the phases of the moon. Beautiful bluish gray clouds are projected in lights onto the external walls and get brighter and darker according to the phase of the moon.

The 96 columns in the main prayer hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl, one of the few places where you will see this craftsmanship.

The 99 names (qualities or attributes) of Allah (God) are featured on the Qibla wall in traditional Kufi calligraphy, designed by the prominent UAE calligrapher – Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi. The Qibla wall also features subtle fibre-optic lighting, which is integrated as part of the organic design.

In total, three calligraphy styles – Naskhi, Thuloth and Kufi – are used throughout the mosque and were drafted by Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi UAE, Farouk Haddad Syria and Mohammed Allam Jordan.[10]

Dilwara Temples

Dilwara Temples Built From Makrana Marbles


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Jump to: navigation, search
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Inside shot of Raudat Tahera showing the grave of Syedna Taher Saifuddin

Raudat Tahera (Arabic ???? ????? ) is the mausoleum of the celebrated Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin, 51st Dai al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras community whom he guided from January 1915 to his death in November 1965. He was succeeded by his son, the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.
Contents
[hide]

1 Geography
2 Exterior features
3 Interior features
4 References
5 External links

[edit] Geography

The white-marble Fatemi shrine is located in the midst of Bhendi Bazaar, a crowded area in central Mumbai. It was constructed by His Holiness Dr.Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, while its architect was Yahya Merchant, who has also designed the tomb of Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan, located in Karachi. The shrine is visited daily by thousands of Dawoodi Bohras from all over the world.

Various heads of state and other foreign dignitaries have visited Raudat Tahera and paid their respects. Their awe and respect can be gauged by their reactions and comments in visitors’ book. Many Indian leaders have expressed their pride in India having such a magnificent monument that is unique in several respects and is the only one of its kind in the world.
[edit] Exterior features

The marble used in the mausoleum was quarried from the Chosira and Ulodi quarries of the famed Makrana quarries in Rajasthan, India from where marble for Taj Mahal was quarried.
The construction began on December 10, 1968 which coincided with the date of 21st of Ramadaan Hijri 1388 of the Fatimid Calendar, death anniversary of Moula Ali and was inaugurated on April 19, 1975 by the Indian president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed coinciding with the birthday celebrations of Imam Taiyab abi al-Qasim which as per the Hijri calendar was on the 5th Rabi`-ul-Akhir 1395.
The mausoleum rests on 92 piles. The number 92 is significant in that it represents the Arabic gematrical value of the name of Muhammad “????”.
The complete structure weighs 5000 tons.
The mausoleum rises to a height of 108 feet (33 m), which is the Arabic gematrical value of the word Haqq.
The dome is 52 feet (16 m) high as its crowning feature.
A 12 feet (3.7 m) high gold finial stands sentinel over the dome.
There are four smaller domes, one at each corner of the central dome, each with a gold finial to match its larger prototype, and perfect the setting against the azure sky. The dome and cornice are inspirations from Al Jamea Juyushi, Cairo.
The four walls of the mausoleum have a 4 feet (1.2 m) and 6 inches (15 cm) thick masonry wall, with 3 inches (7.6 cm) cladding on both sides, making its final thickness of 5 feet (1.5 m), which reflects the members of Ahl al-Bayt.
The outer walls are decorated with the names of Aimmat Tahereen (Ahl al-Bayt, Fatimid Imams) and Duat Mutlaqeen in the Kufic script.
The four entrance doors to the shrine have been specially designed to match the entrance gate of Al Jamea Al Aqmar in Cairo built by Imam Al-Amir. The entrances are adorned with four silver doors of Fatemi style and lead to sanctum sanctorum of the tomb. There are five arches above each of these four doors.
The entrance facing west is called Raudat Tahera
The entrance facing east is called Bab E Hakimi, so named after his ancestor the Dawoodi Bohra saint Syedi Abdulqader Hakimuddin, whose mausoleum is in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh.
The entrance facing south is called Bab E Zaini, so named after the 45th Da’i Syedna Taiyeb Zainuddin, his great grandfather, whose tomb is in Surat.
The entrance facing north is called Bab E Fakhri, so named after his ancestor the Dawoodi Bohra saint Syedi Fakhruddin Shaheed, whose mausoleum is in Galiyakot, Rajasthan.

[edit] Interior features

The inner height of the mausoleum is 80 feet (24 m) above the plinth, the age of the Syedna (AQ). Similarly there are 80 corniches all around the mausoleum.
The inner dimensions of the tomb are 51 x 51 feet (16 m), symbolizing that he was the 51st representative and Vicegerent of the Fatimid Imams.
In the center of the tomb is the grave, whose measurement is 28 square feet (2.6 m2). The number 28 indicates the young age at which he became the Dai al-Mutlaq.
What gives the tomb a unique place of honour amongst all the monuments in the world, is the inscription of the entire Quran within its four walls. Upon the instructions of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin TUS, the 772 page golden handwritten Quran from which Syedna Taher Saifuddin used to recite daily, was photocopied and transcribed onto an equal number, that is 772 marble slabs of 3×2 feet each and pasted in the inner walls of the Raudat. As such, the entire Quran is engraved on the inner walls of Raudat Tahera and makes it the only monument in the world to have a complete religious book engraved within its sanctum sanctorum.
On top, the structural shell consists of a dome 40 feet (12 m) in diameter with a height of 52 feet (16 m). The dome is a replica of Al Jamea Al Juyushi, Cairo.
The rosette at the apex of the dome has the same mudawwar design in the interior as that of the masjid Al Juyushi, with the Quranic proclamation “????? ??????? ???????? ????????????? ??????????? ??? ???????? ? ??????? ???????? ???? ????????????? ???? ??????? ????? ????????”, (Surah 35 Ayat 41) meaning “Allah holds the sky and earth together which none else can” along its periphery. The names of Mohammed and his successor Ali are embellished in Kufic script in the center.
Though it was not intended originally, but as the laying of the Quranic tablets within the walls continued, it became apparent that all the entrance doors to the tomb got adorned with a Bismillah.
All the 113 Bismillah in the Quran inscribed on the walls are studded with precious gem stones, such as rubies, diamonds, emeralds, corals etc. The Surat Al Fatiha and Surat Al Ikhlas are studded with rubies.
Below the Quran, on the walls are the stanzas and verses quoted from the 49 Risalah sharifah, hundreds of Qasidas and munajaats written by Syedna Taher Saifuddin which reflect the Barakah of the Quran and the Ilm of Ale Mohammed. They demonstrate his interpretation of the scriptures, and which inspire the visitor, to a higher plane of thinking and nobler way of life, towards which Islam ultimately beckons.
A glittering crystal chandelier, suspended from the center of the dome, sheds its brilliance upon the tomb and seems to cast a divine light upon the hallowed precincts, while the four circular corner fittings and twenty four wall brackets lend their light to the radiance within the Mausoleum. The chandeliers are especially made on order and each pendetive is engraved with the Quranic verse “?? ???? ??? ????????” (Surah 56 Ayat 79) meaning “none but the pure shall hold the Holy Quran”. It is claimed to be among the largest chandeliers in the world.
makrana marble industries details and product knowledge www.makranamarble.co.in
makrana marble industries details and product knowledgewww.makranamarble.org

This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (April 2009)

Raudat Tahera

Raudat Tahera Built From Makrana Marble

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2Jump to: navigation, search
Question book-new.svg
This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2009)
Inside shot of Raudat Tahera showing the grave of Syedna Taher Saifuddin

Raudat Tahera (Arabic ???? ????? ) is the mausoleum of the celebrated Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin, 51st Dai al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras community whom he guided from January 1915 to his death in November 1965. He was succeeded by his son, the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.
Contents
[hide]

1 Geography
2 Exterior features
3 Interior features
4 References
5 External links

[edit] Geography

The white-marble Fatemi shrine is located in the midst of Bhendi Bazaar, a crowded area in central Mumbai. It was constructed by His Holiness Dr.Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, while its architect was Yahya Merchant, who has also designed the tomb of Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan, located in Karachi. The shrine is visited daily by thousands of Dawoodi Bohras from all over the world.

Various heads of state and other foreign dignitaries have visited Raudat Tahera and paid their respects. Their awe and respect can be gauged by their reactions and comments in visitors’ book. Many Indian leaders have expressed their pride in India having such a magnificent monument that is unique in several respects and is the only one of its kind in the world.
[edit] Exterior features

The marble used in the mausoleum was quarried from the Chosira and Ulodi quarries of the famed Makrana quarries in Rajasthan, India from where marble for Taj Mahal was quarried.
The construction began on December 10, 1968 which coincided with the date of 21st of Ramadaan Hijri 1388 of the Fatimid Calendar, death anniversary of Moula Ali and was inaugurated on April 19, 1975 by the Indian president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed coinciding with the birthday celebrations of Imam Taiyab abi al-Qasim which as per the Hijri calendar was on the 5th Rabi`-ul-Akhir 1395.
The mausoleum rests on 92 piles. The number 92 is significant in that it represents the Arabic gematrical value of the name of Muhammad “????”.
The complete structure weighs 5000 tons.
The mausoleum rises to a height of 108 feet (33 m), which is the Arabic gematrical value of the word Haqq.
The dome is 52 feet (16 m) high as its crowning feature.
A 12 feet (3.7 m) high gold finial stands sentinel over the dome.
There are four smaller domes, one at each corner of the central dome, each with a gold finial to match its larger prototype, and perfect the setting against the azure sky. The dome and cornice are inspirations from Al Jamea Juyushi, Cairo.
The four walls of the mausoleum have a 4 feet (1.2 m) and 6 inches (15 cm) thick masonry wall, with 3 inches (7.6 cm) cladding on both sides, making its final thickness of 5 feet (1.5 m), which reflects the members of Ahl al-Bayt.
The outer walls are decorated with the names of Aimmat Tahereen (Ahl al-Bayt, Fatimid Imams) and Duat Mutlaqeen in the Kufic script.
The four entrance doors to the shrine have been specially designed to match the entrance gate of Al Jamea Al Aqmar in Cairo built by Imam Al-Amir. The entrances are adorned with four silver doors of Fatemi style and lead to sanctum sanctorum of the tomb. There are five arches above each of these four doors.
The entrance facing west is called Raudat Tahera
The entrance facing east is called Bab E Hakimi, so named after his ancestor the Dawoodi Bohra saint Syedi Abdulqader Hakimuddin, whose mausoleum is in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh.
The entrance facing south is called Bab E Zaini, so named after the 45th Da’i Syedna Taiyeb Zainuddin, his great grandfather, whose tomb is in Surat.
The entrance facing north is called Bab E Fakhri, so named after his ancestor the Dawoodi Bohra saint Syedi Fakhruddin Shaheed, whose mausoleum is in Galiyakot, Rajasthan.

[edit] Interior features

The inner height of the mausoleum is 80 feet (24 m) above the plinth, the age of the Syedna (AQ). Similarly there are 80 corniches all around the mausoleum.
The inner dimensions of the tomb are 51 x 51 feet (16 m), symbolizing that he was the 51st representative and Vicegerent of the Fatimid Imams.
In the center of the tomb is the grave, whose measurement is 28 square feet (2.6 m2). The number 28 indicates the young age at which he became the Dai al-Mutlaq.
What gives the tomb a unique place of honour amongst all the monuments in the world, is the inscription of the entire Quran within its four walls. Upon the instructions of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin TUS, the 772 page golden handwritten Quran from which Syedna Taher Saifuddin used to recite daily, was photocopied and transcribed onto an equal number, that is 772 marble slabs of 3×2 feet each and pasted in the inner walls of the Raudat. As such, the entire Quran is engraved on the inner walls of Raudat Tahera and makes it the only monument in the world to have a complete religious book engraved within its sanctum sanctorum.
On top, the structural shell consists of a dome 40 feet (12 m) in diameter with a height of 52 feet (16 m). The dome is a replica of Al Jamea Al Juyushi, Cairo.
The rosette at the apex of the dome has the same mudawwar design in the interior as that of the masjid Al Juyushi, with the Quranic proclamation “????? ??????? ???????? ????????????? ??????????? ??? ???????? ? ??????? ???????? ???? ????????????? ???? ??????? ????? ????????”, (Surah 35 Ayat 41) meaning “Allah holds the sky and earth together which none else can” along its periphery. The names of Mohammed and his successor Ali are embellished in Kufic script in the center.
Though it was not intended originally, but as the laying of the Quranic tablets within the walls continued, it became apparent that all the entrance doors to the tomb got adorned with a Bismillah.
All the 113 Bismillah in the Quran inscribed on the walls are studded with precious gem stones, such as rubies, diamonds, emeralds, corals etc. The Surat Al Fatiha and Surat Al Ikhlas are studded with rubies.
Below the Quran, on the walls are the stanzas and verses quoted from the 49 Risalah sharifah, hundreds of Qasidas and munajaats written by Syedna Taher Saifuddin which reflect the Barakah of the Quran and the Ilm of Ale Mohammed. They demonstrate his interpretation of the scriptures, and which inspire the visitor, to a higher plane of thinking and nobler way of life, towards which Islam ultimately beckons.
A glittering crystal chandelier, suspended from the center of the dome, sheds its brilliance upon the tomb and seems to cast a divine light upon the hallowed precincts, while the four circular corner fittings and twenty four wall brackets lend their light to the radiance within the Mausoleum. The chandeliers are especially made on order and each pendetive is engraved with the Quranic verse “?? ???? ??? ????????” (Surah 56 Ayat 79) meaning “none but the pure shall hold the Holy Quran”. It is claimed to be among the largest chandeliers in the world.

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial India Built From Makrana Marble


Victoria Memorial (India)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. For the Victoria Memorial in London, see Victoria Memorial (London).

Coordinates: 22.5449°N 88.3425°E
Victoria Memorial Hall
Established 1921
Location Queen’s Way, Kolkata, India
Type Museum
Collection size Nearly 30,000 (as on March 31, 2009)[1]
Curator Chittaranjan Panda
Website victoriamemorial-cal.org

The Victoria Memorial, officially the Victoria Memorial Hall, is a memorial building dedicated to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India, which is located in Kolkata, India – the capital of West Bengal and a former capital of British India. It currently serves as a museum and a tourist attraction.[2] It is an autonomous organization within the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture.
Contents
[hide]

1 Design and construction
2 History
3 Architecture
4 The Royal Gallery
5 The Daniells
6 Major Collection
7 The Calcutta Gallery
8 The Garden
9 Rare Books
10 Picture gallery
11 References
12 External links

[edit] Design and construction
An old picture showing the construction of Victoria Memorial going on.

The memorial was designed by Sir William Emerson [3] using Indo-Saracenic style, incorporating Mughal elements in the structure. Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain designed the gardens. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid down in the year 1906. The monument was intended to serve as a tribute to the success of the British Empire in India.
Facade of the Victoria Memorial

Architect Sir William Emerson laid down the actual plan of the memorial. The design of the structure represents a fusion of British and Mughal architecture. White Makrana marbles were used in the construction of Victoria Memorial Hall and the building was inaugurated in the year 1921. The massive hall is 338 feet (103 m) by 228 feet (69 m) and rises to a height of 184 feet (56 m).

British government money was not used in its construction at all. Rather, the British Indian states, along with the individuals who wanted some favours from the British government, were the main contributors towards the cost of building the Victoria Memorial Hall.[citation needed]

The massive Victoria Memorial stands enclosed within 64 acres (260,000 m2) of blooming gardens. It houses a museum containing a large collection of memorabilia relating to Queen Victoria and the British presence in India as well as other exhibits. The Memorial also contains a Royal Gallery housing a number of portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and paintings illustrating their lives.

After India gained independence in the year 1947, certain additions were made to the Victoria Memorial. These additions formed National Leader’s Gallery, containing the portraits and relics relating to Indian independence.
[edit] History
Lord Curzon and Madho Rao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior, pose with hunted tigers, in 1901.

On the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901, Lord Curzon, who was then Viceroy of India, placed before the public the question of setting up a fitting memorial to the Queen. He suggested that the most suitable memorial would be a “stately”, spacious, monumental and grand building surrounded by an exquisite garden.This was to be a historical museum where people could see before them pictures and statues of men who played a prominent part in the history of this country and develop a pride in their past.The princes and people of India responded generously to his appeal for funds and the total cost of construction of this monument amounting to one crore, five lakhs of rupees, was entirely derived from their voluntary subscriptions.Sir William Emerson, President of the British Institute of Architects, designed and drew up the plan of this building, while the work of construction was entrusted to Messrs. Martin & Co. of Calcutta. Vincent J. Esch was the superintending architect.
The building is 184 ft high up to the base of the figure of Victory, which is another 16 ft high. The groups of figures above the north porch represent Motherhood, Prudence and Learning. Surrounding the main dome are figures of Art, Architecture, Justice, Charity etc. The Memorial is situated on a 64 acres of land with the building covering 338 ft by 228 ft. The total cost of construction of this monument amounting to one crore, and five lakhs of rupees (INR1.05 crore (US$209,475)) was entirely derived from their voluntary subscriptions. The Architect entrusted with the design was W. Emerson. A pupil of William Burges, Emerson had first visited India almost forty years before. His early works in the sub- continent included the famous Crawford Markets in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1865 and the splendid but incomplete All Saints Cathedral in Allahabad (1869–1893). In these and some other early projects Emerson experimented with medieval Gothic styles, in the manner of his teachers. But the design of his other great work in Allahabad, Muir College in 1873, is more eclectic. Drawing on Venetian, Egyptian and Deccani sources, this was one of the first essays in the Indo-Saracenic Movement. Like the contemporary Senate House in Madras (now Chennai) by R. F. Chisholm, it is a colourful and extravagant building, combining forms from the Islamic architecture of various regions with a European structure. Moving from British India to the princely state of Bhavnagar in Gujrat, Emerson continued in a similar way with the Takhtsingji Hospital (1879–93) and the Palace (1894–95). Here at the request of his patron, he introduced forms from Hindu architecture, such as corbelled arches.
The Victoria Memorial illuminated at night.

Now based in England and approaching sixty, Emerson was clearly going to need an assistant, to supervise the construction of the building on site. The man appointed for this role was Vincent J. Esch. A generation younger than Emerson, Esch had like him, gone out to India at the start of his career and in 1899 he was appointed Assistant Engineer in the Bengal Nagpur Railway, a job which gave him much practical experience in large-scale construction and costings. In the New Year of 1902, Emerson engaged him to prepare a sketch of his original design for theVictoria Memorial and anxious to avoid any involvement of the Public Works Department, urged the Viceroy to put him in charge of the plan’s implementation. More cautious, perhaps, Curzon seems to have tested Esch out with a couple of minor commissions. He employed him to design a Circuit House, bombarding him with advice to adopt the “simple old Italian style”. At the same time, Esch prepared designs for the temporary Exhibition Building for the Delhi Durbar of 1903. In this case, consistent with his general plans for the Durbar, Curzon required something in the Mughal style, and he was pleased to find Esch compliant.
The main entrance of the Victoria Memorial.

Even so, the appointment was not immediate. Building operations on the Memorial were slow to get started, and had not properly begun by the time Curzon left India at the end of 1905. They were then subject to further delays as his successors had less enthusiasm for this inherited scheme, and lengthy tests had to be made on the foundations. Meanwhile, the real break in Esch’s career came in 1907 when he won the competition to design the Bengal Club, a prestigious building on a conspicuous site on Chowringhee. At the same time, he was concluding his service with the Bengal-Nagpur Railway by designing their new head office at Garden Reach. These two projects won him a reputation for capable design and efficient management, and launched him in private practice. By the time the construction of the Memorial began in earnest, in 1910, Esch had established himself as Calcutta’s leading architect. He was then formally appointed the project’s Superintending Architect. Esch’s major clients in Calcutta included the Allahabad Bank, the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, and Duncan Brothers. From 1914 to 1921, he was also employed by the Nizam of Hyderabad, in an extensive reconstruction of the Nizam’s capital. Esch designed numerous large public buildings in Hyderabad, including the Railway Station, the High Court, the City High School, and the Osmania Hospital.
Statue of lion outside Victoria Memorial.

Like many others, too, he could not help comparing the Memorial with the Taj Mahal. There is a certain resemblance with, more than the details mentioned which, lends the building a pervasive Indian character. It arises, first, from the material. From the very start, even before he expressed his views on its style, Curzon insisted that the Memorial should be built of white marble, and in the event the stone was brought from the same quarries in Makrana, Rajasthan, that supplied Shah Jahan. There is also a correspondence in the forms: the great dome, clustered with four subsidiary, octagonal domed chattris, the high portals, the terrace, and the domed corner towers. There is even some correspondence in the function: like Shah Jahan, Curzon conceived the building as a memorial to an Empress and as a powerful visual statement. This linking of the Mughal and British periods is sustained by the collection of exhibits within; and it is typical of the self-presentation of the late Raj, of which Curzon’s Delhi Durbar and the whole Indo-Saracenic movement are further examples. In this context, the echo of the Taj Mahal need not have been an effect deliberately sought by the architect; but it is evident that Emerson greatly admired the Mughal masterpiece – a youthful lecture on it which he delivered to the RIBA in 1870 was a sustained panegyric.
The Victoria Memorial facade, standing tall in Kolkata.

A less desired similarity with the Taj Mahal was the length of time it took to build. Following the conception and design in 1901, construction of the substructure began in 1904. The visiting Prince of Wales laid a foundation stone in 1906, but it was a further four years before work on the superstructure got under way. On January 4, 1912, the Prince – now King George V – returned to inspect progress. In the preceding month in Delhi the royal visitor had been crowned Emperor, and in his speech on that occasion, he had announced the transfer of the capital to Delhi. Curzon had not foreseen this move and he much lamented it; it left his sanctum of the Empire high and dry in a provincial city even before it was completed. The work continued, but it was not until December 28, 1921 that another Prince of Wales came formally to open it. On the same tour, the Prince visited Hyderabad, where he saw Esch’s buildings all but finished; and he inspected progress on the buildings in New Delhi, which already promised to surpass the Memorial in grandeur. Curzon’s project had been overtaken by events.
Victoria Memorial’s facade seen with the statue of Sir Andrew Henderson Leith Fraser, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal from 1903 to 1908.

If the Memorial’s impact was diminished by delay, it was still a splendid gesture. Emerson’s design was much enhanced by the sympathetic ornaments added by others. Vincent Esch’s major contribution was the redesign of the foundations on innovative principles for which he was renowned, but he also supervised the production of the allegorical sculpture groups over the entrances and designed the elegant bridge on the north side, and the gates to the gardens. The gardens themselves were laid out by Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain; their spaciousness and restraint emphasize the building’s majesty. In the central hall, scenes from the life of the Queen were painted by Frank Salisbury, and the marble statue of the young Queen is by Sir Thomas Brock. A more elderly Queen in bronze by Sir George Frampton, sits enthroned on Esch’s bridge, between narrative panels by Sir Goscombe Jhon. In the paved quadrangles and elsewhere around the building, other statues were added to commemorate Hastings, Cornwallis, Clive, Wellesley, and Dalhousie. The Queen may have enjoyed their company, but whether these statues delivered an impartial history lesson, as Curzon had intended, successive generations may judge for themselves. Curzon himself seemed to consider impartiality achieved by the exhibition within, but equally approved the unambiguous message of the external ornaments. “Much might be said about the external sculptures, one of which on the north side depicts a lion’s head with water flowing out of it and passing into four troughs representing the four great Indian rivers – the Ganges, the Krishna, the Indus and the Jumuna – thus symbolising the life-giving work of Britain in India.”
[edit] The Royal Gallery
The first hall of he Victoria Memorial is a memorial of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdoms.

In the Royal Gallery there are oil paintings depicting scenes of Queen Victoria receiving the sacrament at her coronation in the Westminster Abbey in June 1838; her marriage with Prince Albert (1840) in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace; the christening of the Prince of Wales in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (1842); marriage of the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) with Princess Alexandra (1863) ; Queen Victoria at the first Jubilee service in Westminster Abbey in 1887 and the Second Jubilee service of Queen Victoria at St. Paul’s Cathedral, June 1897. These are copies of paintings by well-known artists in the collection of the British royalty. The pianoforte on which Queen Victoria received tuition in her childhood and the writing desk and chair constantly used by her for her daily correspondence at the Windsor Castle occupy the centre of the room. King Edward VII presented these to the Victoria Memorial. Beside the painting showing the entry of Prince Wales into Jaipur is displayed here. It is the largest in oils in India (see details given with the pix). On the south wall hangs the Russian ‘ artist Verestchagin’s masterpiece depicting in oils the state entry of King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, into Jaipur in 1876. Also to be seen in this hall are portraits of Edward VII, as Prince of Wales, painted in 1863 by Jansen and those of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when both were young, by Winterhalter.
[edit] The Daniells

36 years old Thomas Daniell and his nephew William, a lad of sixteen, sailed out from Gravesend in April 1785, destined for the East where they were to spend the next eight years. Of humble origins, they arrived in Calcutta via China early in seventeen eighty-six, looking for wealthy patrons, and to explore the sublime, the exotic and the picturesque country. Their spirit was symptomatic of the first stirring of the romantic movement of the time. Some of the earliest glimpses of the city of Calcutta – its many new paladian building, roads and river ghats, temple and churches, and forms of transport old and new- are captured in Thomas Daniell’s twelve coloured aquatints, Views of Calcutta. ” The Lord be praised at length, I have completed my twelve views. The fatigue I have experienced… has almost worn me out. I am advised to make a trip of up the country…”, wrote Thomas in November 1788. A tour of India was a formidable undertaking in those days, but the two Daniells were undaunted. They covered the length and breadth of India in palanquins and bullock carts, on horseback, on foot and on boat, painting Oriental Scenery wherever they went.

The Daniells’ magnificent views of Indian landscapes and antiquities in both oils and aquatint made an immediate impact on the British elite. Stylistically correct and conventional as they were, their magnitude and novelty charmed the romantically inclined for whom the Graeco-Roman culture was effete. Motifs were freely borrowed from Oriental Scenery to decorate wallpapers and ceramics, while the flamboyant domes and minarets of the Royal Pavilion extravaganza at Brighton were directly inspired by the Daniells’ accurate depiction of Indian architecture. On the whole, their Oriental Scenery largely contributed to the British image of India as a land of romance and glory. Indeed, the Daniells have continued to feed the Raj nostalgia to this day.

The Victoria Memorial has the largest collection of the works by the two Daniells.
Queen Victoria’s statue inside the memorial.
[edit] Major Collection

The Memorial is the largest repository in India for a visual history of Calcutta. It also has a major collection of paintings, sculptures and manuscripts from the British period.
[edit] The Calcutta Gallery

The Calcutta Gallery, India’s first city gallery, was visualised by Lord Curzon, at the turn of the century. The matter was taken up in mid- 1970s by Prof. S. Nurul Hasan, then Education Minister, Government of India.
King Edward VII Arch in Victoria Memorial, Kolkata.

In 1986, Prof. Nurul Hasan became the Governor of West Bengal and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Memorial. He took the initiative to see the Victoria Memorial emerge as the focal point of academic and tourist interest in Calcutta.

In November1988, Prof. Hasan invited specialists to a brain storming international seminar on Historical Perspectives for the Calcutta tercentenary. Everyone welcomed the idea of a permanent Calcutta Gallery at the Victoria Memorial. The design concept was developed by Dr. Ashin Dasgupta and Dr. Barun De, of the Calcutta Gallery sub-committee. Mr. Vikas Satwalkar, Director of the National Institute of Design had helped to inspect and recommend the work, which was done under the guidance of Mr. Tridibesh Sanyal and Mr. Siddhartha Ghosh of Tangram Design Pvt. Ltd. The air conditioning was sponsored by Mr. B. M. Khaitan of Macneill & Magor. Beside all these, the total work was done under the supervision of Mr. Hiren Chakraborty, then Secretary and Curator of the Memorial.

The Calcutta Gallery displays the history and development of Calcutta from Job Charnok and the British rule up to 1911,when the capital was shifted to Delhi.

The gallery also has a life size diorama of the view of the Chitpur road in the late 19th century. Chitpur was the main business centre in those days, presently known as the Burabazar area.
[edit] The Garden
The garden seen from the southern end.

The Garden of the memorial was exquisitely designed on a total area of 64 acre with the building covering an area of 338sq.ft by 228 sq.ft.. On way to the north gate is a bronze statue of Queen Victoria by Sir George Frampton, R.A.(the pix shown above). The Queen is seated on her throne, wearing the robes of the Star of India. Approaching the building from the south, visitors pass the King Edward VII memorial arch with a bronze equestrian statue of the King by Sir Bertram Mackennal surmounting it and a marble statue of Lord Curzon by F.W. Pomeroy, R.A. There are also other statues of various dignitaries like Lord Bentinck, Governor- General of India (1828–1835), Lord Ripon (Governor- General of India from 1880 to 1884; the statue of Sir Rajendranath Mookerjee, the pioneer industrialist of Bengal is on the eastern side.

There are twenty one gardeners to maintain the garden and the morning walkers have four associations. Most of the members of the morning walker associations are the rich and the famous of Calcutta. But the authority of the memorial has no official link with these associations.
[edit] Rare Books

There are some rare books in the Library which date back to the 1870s. Some of the books worth mentioning are the collection of plays by William Shakespeare, The Arabian Nights, Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat etc. All these books are exotically illustrated. Costume designers consult and refer to these books while designing for Shakespearian plays in Calcutta.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal
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Southern view of the Taj Mahal.
Southern view of the Taj Mahal.
Location: Agra, India
Coordinates: 27.174799°N 78.042111°E
Elevation: 171 m (561 ft)
Built: 1632–1653[citation needed]
Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri
Architectural style(s): Mughal
Visitation: More than 3 million (in 2003)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Type: Cultural
Criteria: i
Designated: 1983 (7th session)
Reference #: 252
State Party: India
Region: Asia-Pacific
Taj Mahal is located in India
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Location in western Uttar Pradesh, India

The Taj Mahal (play /?t??d?/ or /?t??? m??h??l/;[1] Hindi: ??? ???, from Persian/Urdu: ??? ??? “crown of palaces”, pronounced [?t?a?d? m????l]; also “the Taj”[2]) is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”[3]

Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.[4][5]

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. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.[6] 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.[7][8] Lahauri[9] is generally considered to be the principal designer.[10]
Contents
[hide]

1 Origin and inspiration
2 Architecture
2.1 The tomb
2.1.1 Exterior decoration
2.1.2 Interior decoration
2.2 The garden
2.3 Outlying buildings
3 Construction
4 History
5 Threats
6 Tourism
7 Myths
8 Replicas
9 Gallery
10 See also
11 References
11.1 Notes
11.2 Sources
12 External links

Origin and inspiration
Main article: Origins and architecture of the Taj Mahal

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 14th child, Gauhara Begum.[11] Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632.[12] The court chronicles of Shah Jahan’s grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal.[13][14] 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:[15]

Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal -“Shah jahan on a globe” from the Smithsonian Institution

Artistic depiction of Mumtaz Mahal
Taj Mahal site plan.

The Moonlight Garden to the north of the Yamuna.
Terrace area: Tomb, Mosque and Jawab.
Charbagh (gardens).
Gateway, attendant accommodations, and other tombs.
Taj Ganji (bazaar)

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),[16] 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.[17]
Architecture
The tomb

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. This large, white marble structure stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.
The Taj Mahal seen from the banks of river Yamuna

The base structure is essentially a large, multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners, forming an unequal octagon that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. On each of these sides, a huge pishtaq, or vaulted archway, frames the iwan with two similarly shaped, arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.
Viewed from the east

The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is the most spectacular feature. Its height of around 35 metres (115 ft) is about the same as the length of the base, and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical “drum” which is roughly 7 metres (23 ft) high. Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design, which also serves to accentuate its height. The shape of the dome is emphasised by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the onion shape of the main dome. Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb and provide light to the interior. Tall decorative spires (guldastas) extend from edges of base walls, and provide visual emphasis to the height of the dome. The lotus motif is repeated on both the chattris and guldastas. The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindustani decorative elements.
Viewed from Masjid
Reflection of Taj

The main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a copy made of gilded bronze in the early 19th century. This feature provides a clear example of integration of traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif whose horns point heavenward. Because of its placement on the main spire, the horns of the moon and the finial point combine to create a trident shape, reminiscent of traditional Hindu symbols of Shiva.[6]

The minarets, which are each more than 40 metres (130 ft) tall, display the designer’s penchant for symmetry. They were designed as working minarets — a traditional element of mosques, used by the muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer. Each minaret is effectively divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower. At the top of the tower is a final balcony surmounted by a chattri that mirrors the design of those on the tomb. The chattris all share the same decorative elements of a lotus design topped by a gilded finial. The minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that, in the event of collapse, (a typical occurrence with many tall constructions of the period) the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb.

Base, dome, and minaret

Finial

Main iwan and side pishtaqs

Simplified diagram of the Taj Mahal floor plan

Minaret

Exterior decoration
Calligraphy on large pishtaq

The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in Mughal architecture.[citation needed] As the surface area changes the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays, or carvings. In line with the Islamic prohibition against the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs.

Throughout the complex, passages from the Qur’an are used as decorative elements. Recent scholarship suggests that the passages were chosen by Amanat Khan.[18][19] The texts refer to themes of judgment and include:

Surah 36 – Ya Sin
Surah 39 – The Crowds Surah 48 – Victory
Surah 67 – Dominion
Surah 77 – Those Sent Forth
Surah 81 – The Folding Up
Surah 82 – The Cleaving Asunder
Surah 84 – The Rending Asunder
Surah 89 – Daybreak
Surah 91 – The Sun
Surah 93 – Morning Light
Surah 94 – The Solace
Surah 95 – The Fig
Surah 98 – The Evidence
Surah 112 – The Purity of Faith

The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.”[19]

The calligraphy was created by a calligrapher named Abd ul-Haq, in 1609. Shah Jahan conferred the title of “Amanat Khan” upon him as a reward for his “dazzling virtuosity”.[8] Near the lines from the Qur’an at the base of the interior dome is the inscription, “Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi.”[20] Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth script, made of jasper or black marble,[8] inlaid in white marble panels. Higher panels are written in slightly larger script to reduce the skewing effect when viewed from below. The calligraphy found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is particularly detailed and delicate.

Abstract forms are used throughout, especially in the plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab and, to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb. The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms. Herringbone inlays define the space between many of the adjoining elements. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings, and dark or black inlays on the white marbles. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting colour, creating geometric patterns of considerable complexity. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns.

On the lower walls of the tomb there are white marble dados that have been sculpted with realistic bas relief depictions of flowers and vines. The marble has been polished to emphasise the exquisite detailing of the carvings and the dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with pietra dura inlays of highly stylised, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits. The inlay stones are of yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and levelled to the surface of the walls.

Herringbone

Plant motifs

Spandrel detail

Incised painting

Reflective tiles normal exposure

Calligraphy of Persian poems

Finial Floor Tiling

Interior decoration
Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs
Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Cenotaphs, interior of Taj Mahal

The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. Here, the inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, although only the door facing the garden to the south is used.

The interior walls are about 25 metres (82 ft) high and are topped by a “false” interior dome decorated with a sun motif. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level and, as with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall. The four central upper arches form balconies or viewing areas, and each balcony’s exterior window has an intricate screen or jali cut from marble. In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings covered by chattris at the corners. Each chamber wall has been highly decorated with dado bas-relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels, reflecting in miniature detail the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex.

The octagonal marble screen or jali which borders the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels which have been carved through with intricate pierce work. The remaining surfaces have been inlaid in extremely delicate detail with semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.

Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves. Hence, the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan were put in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right and towards Mecca. Mumtaz Mahal’s cenotaph is placed at the precise center of the inner chamber on a rectangular marble base of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) by 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in).

Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is beside Mumtaz’s to the western side, and is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex. His cenotaph is bigger than his wife’s, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on a slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies him. On the lid of this casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box.

The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating the caskets of men and women respectively. The Ninety Nine Names of God are found as calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including “O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious… “. The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; “He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri.”

Arch of Jali

Delicate pierce work

Detail of Jali

Detail of Pietra dura jali inlay

The garden
Walkways beside reflecting pool

The complex is set around a large 300-metre (980 ft) square charbagh or Mughal garden. The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds. A raised marble water tank at the center of the garden, halfway between the tomb and gateway with a reflecting pool on a north-south axis, reflects the image of the mausoleum. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar, in reference to the “Tank of Abundance” promised to Muhammad.[21] Elsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains.[22] The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by the first Mughal emperor, Babur. It symbolises the four flowing rivers of Jannah (Paradise) and reflects the Paradise garden derived from the Persian paridaeza, meaning ‘walled garden’. In mystic Islamic texts of Mughal period, Paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.

Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center. The Taj Mahal garden is unusual in that the main element, the tomb, is located at the end of the garden. With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or “Moonlight Garden” on the other side of the Yamuna, the interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India is that the Yamuna river itself was incorporated into the garden’s design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.[23] The similarity in layout of the garden and its architectural features with the Shalimar Gardens suggest that they may have been designed by the same architect, Ali Mardan.[24] Early accounts of the garden describe its profusion of vegetation, including abundant roses, daffodils, and fruit trees.[25] As the Mughal Empire declined, the tending of the garden also declined, and when the British took over the management of Taj Mahal during the time of the British Empire, they changed the landscaping to resemble that of lawns of London.[26]
Outlying buildings
The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)—gateway to the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls, with the river-facing side left open. Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan’s other wives, and a larger tomb for Mumtaz’s favourite servant. These structures, composed primarily of red sandstone, are typical of the smaller Mughal tombs of the era. The garden-facing inner sides of the wall are fronted by columned arcades, a feature typical of Hindu temples which was later incorporated into Mughal mosques. The wall is interspersed with domed chattris, and small buildings that may have been viewing areas or watch towers like the Music House, which is now used as a museum.
Interior of the Taj Mahal mosque

The main gateway (darwaza) is a monumental structure built primarily of marble which is reminiscent of Mughal architecture of earlier emperors. Its archways mirror the shape of tomb’s archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb. It utilises bas-relief and pietra dura inlaid decorations with floral motifs. The vaulted ceilings and walls have elaborate geometric designs, like those found in the other sandstone buildings of the complex.
Taj Mahal mosque or masjid

At the far end of the complex, there are two grand red sandstone buildings that are open to the sides of the tomb. Their backs parallel the western and eastern walls, and the two buildings are precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab (answer), whose primary purpose was architectural balance, although it may have been used as a guesthouse. The distinctions between these two buildings include the lack of mihrab (a niche in a mosque’s wall facing Mecca) in the jawab and that the floors of jawab have a geometric design, while the mosque floor was laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble. The mosque’s basic design of a long hall surmounted by three domes is similar to others built by Shah Jahan, particularly to his Masjid-Jahan Numa, or Jama Masjid, Delhi. The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas, with a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side. At the Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an enormous vaulting dome. These outlying buildings were completed in 1643.
Construction
Ground layout of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the center of Agra in exchange for the land.[27] An area of roughly three acres was excavated, filled with dirt to reduce seepage, and levelled at 50 metres (160 ft) above riverbank. In the tomb area, wells 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 estimated it would 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 fifteen kilometre (9.3 mi) tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site and teams of twenty or thirty oxen pulled the blocks on specially constructed wagons. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to raise the blocks into 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.

The plinth and tomb took roughly 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”. For example, the mausoleum itself was essentially complete by 1643, but work continued on the rest of the complex. Estimates of the cost of construction vary due to difficulties in estimating costs across time. The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees at that time.[28]

The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, 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, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.

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.[7][8] Lahauri[9] is generally considered to be the principal designer.[10]
Artist’s impression of the Taj Mahal, from the Smithsonian Institution

A labour force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit. Some of the builders involved in construction of Taj Mahal are:

Ismail Afandi (a.k.a. Ismail Khan) of the Ottoman Empire — Turkish architect, designer of the main dome.[29]
Ustad Isa (Isa Muhammad Effendi) of Persia — Turkish architect, trained by Koca Mimar Sinan Agha of the Ottoman Empire and frequently credited with a key role in the architectural design.[30][31]
‘Puru’ from Benarus, Persia — has been mentioned as a supervising architect.[32]
Qazim Khan, a native of Lahore – cast the solid gold finial.
Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi — the chief sculptor and mosaicist.
Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran — the chief calligrapher.[33]
Muhammad Hanif — a supervisor of masons.
Mir Abdul Karim and Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz — handled finances and management of daily production.

History
Taj Mahal by Samuel Bourne, 1860.

Soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. Upon Shah Jahan’s death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife.[34]

By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen badly into disrepair. During the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiselled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a sweeping restoration project, which was completed in 1908.[35][36] He also commissioned the large lamp in the interior chamber, modelled after one in a Cairo mosque. During this time the garden was remodelled with British-style lawns that are still in place today.[26]
Threats
Protective wartime scaffolding

In 1942, the government erected a scaffolding in anticipation of an air attack by German Luftwaffe and later by Japanese Air Force[citation needed]. During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, scaffoldings were again erected to mislead bomber pilots.[37]

More recent threats have come from environmental pollution on the banks of Yamuna River including acid rain[38] due to the Mathura Oil Refinery,[39] which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives. The pollution has been turning the Taj Mahal yellow. To help control the pollution, the Indian government has set up the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), a 10,400-square-kilometre (4,000 sq mi) area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place.[40]

Concerns for the tomb’s structural integrity have recently been raised because of a decline in the water level of the Yamuna River which is decreasing at a rate of 5 feet a year. In 2010, cracks appeared in parts of the tomb, and the minarets which surround the monument were showing signs of tilting, as the wooden foundation of the tomb may be rotting due to lack of water. Some persons predict that the tomb may collapse within 5 years.[41][42]
Tourism

The Taj Mahal attracts between 2 million and 4 million visitors annually, including more than 200,000 from overseas. A dual- pricing system is in place, with a significantly lower entrance fee for Indian citizens than for foreigners. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored for use as a new visitor center.[43][44]

The small town to the south of the Taj, known as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, was originally constructed with caravanserais, bazaars and markets to serve the needs of visitors and workmen.[45] Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the modern world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the World, a recent poll[46] with 100 million votes.

The grounds are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after,[47] excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan. For security reasons[48] only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies’ purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.[49]
Myths

Ever since its construction, the building has been the source of an admiration transcending culture and geography, and so personal and emotional responses have consistently eclipsed scholastic appraisals of the monument.[50]
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, one of the first European visitors to the Taj Mahal

A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble across the Yamuna river.[51] The idea originates from fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black.[52] A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archaeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself.[53]

No evidence exists for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb. Some stories claim that those involved in construction signed contracts committing themselves to have no part in any similar design. Similar claims are made for many famous buildings.[54] No evidence exists for claims that Lord William Bentinck, governor-general of India in the 1830s, supposedly planned to demolish the Taj Mahal and auction off the marble. Bentinck’s biographer John Rosselli says that the story arose from Bentinck’s fund-raising sale of discarded marble from Agra Fort.[55]

Another myth suggests that beating the silhouette of the finial will cause water to come forth. To this day, officials find broken bangles surrounding the silhouette.[56]

In 2000, India’s Supreme Court dismissed P. N. Oak’s petition to declare that a Hindu king built the Taj Mahal.[54][57] Oak claimed that origins of the Taj, together with other historic structures in the country currently ascribed to Muslim sultans pre-date Muslim rule of India and thus, have a Hindu origin.[58]
Replicas

Among the buildings modelled on the Taj Mahal are the Taj Mahal Bangladesh, the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Taj Mahal Bangladesh

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Tripoli Shrine Temple

Gallery

Taj Mahal Gallery

The Taj Mahal

The tomb framed by the gateway entrance

Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza), the main entrance to the tomb.

Typical postcard image

View from the river Yamuna

The Taj Mahal at dusk turns yellow

Taj Mahal.

The top of the Taj Mahal

See also

Architecture of India
Fatehpur Sikri

References
Notes

^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. p. 704. ISBN 0582053838. entry “Taj Mahal”.
^ “Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus, entry for Taj Mahal”. Dictionary.reverso.net. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252
^ Hasan, Parween (November 1994). “Review of Mughal Architecture: Its outline and its history”. The Journal of Asian Studies 53 (4): 1301
^ Lesley A. DuTemple, “The Taj Mahal”, Lerner Publishing Group (March 2003). pg 26: “The Taj Mahal, a spectacular example of Moghul architecture, blends Islamic, Hindu and Persian styles”
^ a b Tillitson, G.H.R. (1990). Architectural Guide to Mughal India, Chronicle Books.
^ a b History of the Taj Mahal Agra, Retrieved on: 20 January 2009.
^ a b c d Anon. “The Taj mahal”. Islamic architecture. Islamic Arts and Architecture Organization. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
^ a b From Lahore as the name suggests (Koch.p88)
^ a b UNESCO advisory body evaluation.
^ “Public Broadcasting Service”. PBS. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
^ “Taj Mahal History”.
^ Muhammad Abdullah Chaghtai Le Tadj Mahal D’Agra (Hindi). Histoire et description (Brussels) 1938 p. 46.
^ ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahawri Badshah Namah Ed. Maulawis Kabir al-Din Ahmad and ‘Abd al-Rahim u-nder the superintendence of Major W.N. Lees. Vol. I Calcutta 1867 pp384-9 ; Muhammad Salih Kambo Amal-i-Sal\lih or Shah Jahan Namah Ed. Ghulam Yazdani Vol.I (Calcutta) 1923 p. 275.
^ Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1970). Muslim Rule In India. p. 200.
^ Chaghtai Le Tadj Mahal p. 146.
^ Copplestone, p. 166.
^ Taj Mahal Calligraphy.
^ a b Koch, p. 100.
^ “Public Broadcasting Service”. PBS. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
^ Begley, Wayne E. (March 1979). “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning”. The Art Bulletin 61 (1): 14.
^ “taj-mahal-travel-tours.com”. taj-mahal-travel-tours.com.. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
^ Wright, Karen (1 July 2000). “Works in Progress”. Discover (Waukesha, WI, USA: Kalmbach Publishing).
^ Allan, John (1958). The Cambridge Shorter History of India (First ed.). Cambridge: S. Chand, 288 pages. p. 318.
^ The Taj by Jerry Camarillo Dunn Jr.
^ a b Koch, p. 139.
^ Chaghtai Le Tadj Mahal p54; Lahawri Badshah Namah Vol.1 p. 403.
^ Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq.
^ Who designed the Taj Mahal.
^ William J. Hennessey, PhD, Director, Univ. of Michigan Museum of Art. IBM 1999 WORLD BOOK.
^ Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p. 223.
^ ISBN 964-7483-39-2.
^ “It Never Disappoints; The Taj Mahal has the sort of majestic beauty that catches you unawares”. Meaindia.nic.in. 25 February 2006. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
^ Gascoigne, Bamber (1971). The Great Mughals. New York:Harper&Row. p. 243.
^ Lord Curzon’s Brass Lamp.
^ Yapp, Peter (1983). The Traveller’s Dictionary of Quotations. London:Routledge Kegan & Paul. p. 460.
^ Taj Mahal ‘to be camouflaged’.
^ Acid Rain and the Taj Mahal.
^ Oil Refinery Impact on Taj Mahal.
^ “UNESCO”. UNESCO. 30 April 1997. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
^ “Taj Mahal could collapse within five years because wooden foundations are rotting”. October 5, 2011.
^ http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/10/07/could-taj-mahal-collapse-in-2-years/?intcmp=trending%7Ctitle=Taj Mahal could collapse within two to five years |date=October 7, 2011
^ Koch, p. 120.
^ Koch, p. 254.
^ Koch, pp. 201–208.
^ Travel Correspondent (9 July 2007). “New Seven Wonders of the World announced”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2007.
^ “Archaeological Survey of India: Night Viewings of Taj Mahal”. Asi.nic.in. 28 November 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
^ DNA India: Going to the Taj? This is all you can carry.
^ tajmahal
^ Koch, p. 231.
^ Asher, p. 210.
^ Koch, p. 249.
^ Warrior Empire: The Mughals of India (2006) A+E Television Network.
^ a b Koch, p. 239.
^ Rosselli, J., Lord William Bentinck the making of a Liberal Imperialist, 1774–1839, London Chatto and Windus for Sussex University Press 1974, p. 283.
^ Koch, p. 240.
^ Plea to rewrite Taj history dismissed.
^ Oak, Purushottam Nagesh. “The True Story of the Taj Mahal”. Stephen Knapp. Retrieved 23 February 2007.

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