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Timeless Icons – Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Agra, India's Taj Mahal is a mausoleum. It is sometimes referred to as "the pearl of Muslim art" and the "crown of palaces" and is one of India's most famous and well-known landmarks. While the place is well-known and appreciated in India, it is also well-known throughout the rest of the world. After the death of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor, commissioned this now-famous building. Jahan wanted to do something to honor his wife's memory, so he came up with the idea for the Taj Mahal, which is essentially a tomb.

It would take many years to build this magnificent edifice. Despite the fact that construction began in 1632, it would not be completed until 1653, nearly two decades later! The Taj Mahal's construction not only took a long time, but it also required the skills and labor of a large number of people. Thousands upon thousands of artisans, craftsmen, and workers are thought to have worked on the edifice.

The Taj Mahal's construction was such a gigantic endeavor that it needed the involvement of more than one architect; in fact, it necessitated the involvement of an entire board of architects. Several renowned architects of the time, including Abd ul-Karim, Makramat Khat, Ma'mur Khan, and lead designer Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, served on the board, which worked under imperial supervision and direction.While it is commonly recognized that Lahauri was the Taj Mahal's major designer and chief architect, his exact role and title are still debated. However, there is no doubt that he worked as an architect in Shah Jahan's court.

Even those who contest Lahauri's role as chief architect/principal designer must accept that the Persian Lahauri was actively involved in the creation of the Taj Mahal.

Lahauri was deeply involved in the construction project, working on it on a regular basis, according to court records. He convened meetings to expedite the construction process and coordinated the work of other architects. He would also look at other architects' designs and make suggestions as he saw fit, proving that whether or not he was the "official" chief architect, he behaved as such for all intents and purposes.

While many visitors come to see the Taj Mahal for the exquisite architecture, there are just as many (if not more) who come because they are romantics, and because the Taj Mahal is built on the basis of a lovely love tale. Unlike other constructions of the time, the Taj Mahal was created to honor Shah Jahan's beloved wife, who had died giving birth to their final child together. There was no other motive for the Taj Mahal's construction.

The Mughal Empire, for example, had no reason to flaunt its authority or wealth; the Empire was experiencing its best and most affluent economic times at the time the Taj Mahal was constructed, and it had nothing to prove to surrounding political or geographical groups.

Traditional Persian architecture and classic Mughal architecture, particularly the architecture found in notable tombs in the area, were both sources of influence for the Taj Mahal, as was Jahan's love for his late wife.

Some of the tombs from which the Taj Mahal draws inspiration are the tomb of Temur, Hamayun’s Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s tomb, and the Jama Masjid.

Though the Taj Mahal has facets of both Mughal and Persian architecture, it is still considered one of the most accomplished examples of Mughal architecture. Mughal architecture is, in itself, a combination of architectural styles, however. It is said to encompass components of Islamic, Indian, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish architecture.

The Taj Mahal is one of the first, if not the first, Mughal structures to utilize white marble in its design. Not only did Jahan call for expensive, ornate white marble to be used, but he further instructed that the white marble be inlaid with jewels.

Mughal structures used to be far more utilitarian and rugged-looking, with sandstone being the major building material; the Taj Mahal, on the other hand, was created solely for beauty.

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