Perhaps the most famous mausoleum in the world, the Taj Mahl in India, sits on a rise overlooking the River Jumna in the Indian city of Agra. The Taj Mahal, once referred to as “a dream in marble, designed by Titans and finished by jewelers,” is the tomb built by Shah Jahan, a Mogul emperor, for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, whom he called Taj-Bibi.
AS the legend goes, Shah Jahan loved his wife so passionately that he thought of no other woman while she lived and was lost in grief after her death. He vowed that her tomb should be the most beautiful building in the world, to match her own beauty.
The Taj was constructed of pure-white marble on its exterior and jeweled mosaic tiles in its interior. Designed by an architect from Saudi Arabia (then Persia) named Ustad Isa, the style was that of ancient Persia, rather than Indian.
As you may imagine, the completion of such a large, ornate structure was neither fast nor inexpensive. It took twenty thousand men moving materials, sculpting, cutting and shaping for twenty-two years before it was complete.
In the center of a great square, paved with white marble and having a tall, stately towers at each corner, the memorial of Taj-Bibi stands as one of India’s, and indeed, the world’s foremost example of man-made architecture.
The mosaic work of the interior is particularly detailed and many precious stones are used unsparingly, including jasper, agate, carnelian, and chalcedony. Marble lacework screens the windows and doorways. In the center are the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; but their bodies, according to the Indian custom, lie in a vault beneath the building. Shah Jahan had begun a tomb for himself on the opposite side of the river, which he was unable to finish before his son, Aurantzeb, rebelled against him and took away the empire. He was therefore buried by the side of his beloved wife.
The price tag for this marble marvel was steep, estimated at $827million in 2015 US dollars.
There is a legend that when he had finished the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan ordered the architect to be thrown over the cliff into the River Jumna, for fear he might plan another building as beautiful as the Taj.
Often called a “wonder of the world”, the Taj Mahal boasts over seven million visitors each year.
Stop by one of our showrooms to learn more and see samples of memorials, headstones, urns and more. You can visit Hart Monument in Rochester, NY; Brigden Memorials in Albion, NY; or Oakley Monument in Batavia, NY.