...building the Taj Mahal
The masterful architects bring designs before the exalted sight of the Emperor... and since his mind is inclined entirely toward the building, he attends to it fully by carrying out appropriate changes... download to listen: 28k, 56k, ISDN*

detail of Taj Mahal

Architects and artisans were summoned to the palace in Agra from fabled lands as far as Baghdad and the Ottoman courts of Turkey: garden designers from Kashmir, calligraphers from Sheraz, stonecutters, sculptors, inlay artisans, dome designers and masons from Bukhara, Constantinople and Samarkand. There were daily consultations; there were considerations and compromises. Above all, there was devotion to the memory of Mumtaz Mahal.

painting of builders and craftsmen
painting of builders and craftsmen
painting of builders and craftsmen

To satisfy Shah Jahan's artistic obsession, vast quantities of white marble were mined from the quarries in Rajasthan; red sandstone was carted from Delhi. Precious stones were brought by caravan from all corners of the empire and beyond: jasper from the Punjab, carnelian from Baghdad, turquoise from Tibet; malachite, jade and crystal from Turkestan;
white marble and red sandstone at Taj
pearls, diamonds, emeralds, saphires... over forty types of gems in all.

A ten-mile long ramp was built through Agra so materials could be dragged to the top of the dome at the construction site. So great was the scope of the project that the city of Mumtazabad grew up around the grounds to house the twenty thousand workers who would labor over twenty years to build this monument.

who designed the Taj Mahal?
An immense brick scaffold was erected to support the assembly of the dome, which entailed much labor and heavy expenditure. It was said that this structure alone cost more than the entire work. According to legend, when the Taj neared completion, Shah Jahan was informed that it would take five more years just to dismantle it. He responded by decreeing that anyone who helped remove the bricks could keep them, and the job was completed overnight.

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young lovers | the Mughal dynasty | Shah Jahan | architectural antecedents
building the Taj | visiting the Taj | fall of an empire | timeline

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Taj Mahal
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