Taj Mahal

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The Taj Mahal (/ˈtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl/ often /ˈtɑːʒ/;, from Persian and Arabic, "crown of palaces", pronounced [ˈt̪aːdʒ mɛˈɦɛl]; also "the Taj") is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 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. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Quotes[edit]

Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.
  • One can imagine having a procedural rule that anything ambiguous should be treated as the Taj Mahal unless we see that it is labelled "fog"...The motorist replies: "What sort of rule is this? Surely the best guarantee I can have that the fog is fog is if I fail to see the sign saying 'fog' because of the fog."
  • Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that it has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. As an architectural masterpiece, nothing could be added or substracted from it.
Post card image - ...I am one of the declared seven wonders of the world
Global admirers are amazed as my beauty is unfurled
Like unveiling of a blushing bride under many covers
My beauty too unfolds in layers beckoning in whispers...
  • Shrine of Love -Taj Mahal
    I am the tear drop of a grieving lover
    A magnificent declaration of his ardor
    A marble symphony by maestro carvers
    A magnum opus, an aria by Wagner to savor
    I am the tomb royal of departed Mumtaz Mahal
    I change many hues like her moods that dapple
    I am homage to Shah’s Queen that held him in thrall
    My exquisite inlaid work in crafting do my visitors enthrall
    I am one of the declared seven wonders of the world
    Global admirers are amazed as my beauty is unfurled
    Like unveiling of a blushing bride under many covers
    My beauty too unfolds in layers beckoning in whispers
    I am the legendary love epic’s poetry in marble, a tomb immortal
    Lovers exchange vows before me with faces lit like candles
    Yet for all my magnificence and breathtaking glory
    I am tainted by amputated limbs of craftsmen, a fact gory
    I am piece de resistance, an epitome of architectural magnificence
    For centuries I am a benevolent provider to many folks in silence
    As visitors stand n behold me in awe they forget my real significance
    I am a symbol of death, a tomb signifying all life ends as it is transient
    I am the tear drop of a grieving lover
    A magnificent declaration of his ardor
    A marble symphony by maestro carvers
    A magnum opus, an aria by Wagner to savor.
    • Bina Gupta in:"Shrine Of Love- Taj Mahal"
...The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice [Taj Mahal] has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory. - Emperor Shah Jahan.
  • 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 [Taj Mahal] has been made;
    To display thereby the creator's glory.
    • Emperor Shah Jahan in: [Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1970). Muslim Rule In India. p. 200] and David Carroll, Newsweek, inc. Book Division The Taj Mahal, Newsweek, 1973
  • Yeah, I can understand that. All the splendor of the Taj Mahal, without the inconvenience and expense of traveling to India.
  • ...approached the Taj with a radiant smile, ready to experience great beauty. We were privileged to see the delicate semi-precious-stone floral inlays and lacey marble screen carvings through his sensitive fingertips, And to hear him describe what his fingers saw. I shut my eyes and let my fingers trace exquisite inlay patterns and follow the intricate carvings. I felt the power of enduring beauty created by craftsman centuries before and learned from Rodney a deeper way of seeing.
...inspected the 16th Century Humayun's Tomb--a forerunner to the Taj Mahal--and cruised past scores of international embassies... - Harry Shattuck.
The most impressive in the Taj Mahal complex next to the tomb, is the main gate which stands majestically in the centre of the southern wall of the forecourt. The gate is flanked on the north front by double arcade galleries. The garden in front of the galleries is subdivided into four quarters by two main walk-ways and each quarters in turn subdivided by the narrower cross-axial walkways, on the Timurid-Persian scheme of the walled in garden. The enclosure walls on the east and west have a pavilion at the centre.
It is a perfect symmetrical planned building, with an emphasis of bilateral symmetry along a central axis on which the main features are placed. The building material used is brick-in-lime mortar veneered with red sandstone and marble and inlay work of precious/semi precious stones.
  • Taj has been described as having been designed by giants and finished by jewellers.
  • As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument of enduring love, it reveals its subtleties when one visits it without being in a hurry. Its ctangular base is in itself a symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. In Indian tradition, the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of it, his eyes are directed to an arch which frames the Taj.
    • Renu Saran in: “Wonders of the World”, p. 10
  • We had admired the presidential palace and parliament houses, paused beside the striking India Gate, inspected the 16th Century Humayun's Tomb--a forerunner to the Taj Mahal--and cruised past scores of international embassies.
  • It is a celebration of woman built in marble and that’s the way to appreciate it.
  • The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the moods of woman.
    • Susant Pal in: "Imbibed In Faith" P.104
  • An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, it is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.
  • It is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Its recognised architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex and light shadow; such as arches and domes further increases the aesthetic aspect. The colour combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show cases the monument in ever changing tints and moods. The relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones make it a monument apart.
  • The most impressive in the Taj Mahal complex next to the tomb, is the main gate which stands majestically in the centre of the southern wall of the forecourt. The gate is flanked on the north front by double arcade galleries. The garden in front of the galleries is subdivided into four quarters by two main walk-ways and each quarters in turn subdivided by the narrower cross-axial walkways, on the Timurid-Persian scheme of the walled in garden. The enclosure walls on the east and west have a pavilion at the centre.
  • It is a perfect symmetrical planned building, with an emphasis of bilateral symmetry along a central axis on which the main features are placed. The building material used is brick-in-lime mortar veneered with red sandstone and marble and inlay work of precious/semi precious stones.
  • Although an important amount of repairs and conservation works have been carried out right from the British period in India these have not compromised to the original qualities of the buildings.

The Taj Mahal[edit]

Panoramic view - It is a complex of buildings; a mosque, a guest house, an enormous entrance gate, four minaret towers and the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s wife. It is laid out in a rectangular grid on 42 acres along the Yamuna River, with water fountains and gardens and reflecting pools.

Lesley A. DuTemple in: The Taj Mahal,Twenty-First Century Books, 1 January 2003

  • It is in Agra, a city in India, which was part of the Mughal Empire in the seventeenth century. A Monument To Love, India's Taj Mahal is a beautiful example of a great building feat. With the exception of its gardens, it is exactly as it was designed in 1631.
    • In: p. 6
  • It is a complex of buildings; a mosque, a guest house, an enormous entrance gate, four minaret towers and the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s wife. It is laid out in a rectangular grid on 42 acres along the Yamuna River, with water fountains and gardens and reflecting pools.
    • In: p. 6
  • Wagon loads of colorful gemstones arrived from all parts of Asia and Europe. Its story is one of great passion and sorrow. Shah Jahan built it as a tomb for his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, whose beauty inspired many royal poets. He chose to express his grief through architecture. It is a testament to his undying love.
    • In: p. 7
  • The mystery surrounding it does not dim its beauty. It has been called one of the wonders of the world. In modern times millions of visitors journey to India every year to see the tomb, its grounds and the buildings around it. Sixty thousand people visit the site every day, making it one of the popular tourist attractions in the world. They find an extraordinary white marble building, shimmering like a jewel on the banks of the Yamuna River – the famous Taj Mahal, tangible evidence of a love story that has endured for centuries.
    • In: p. 7
  • Europeans could not believe that anything so beautiful could have been designed by a non-European. Europeans of the time considered the people of India uncivilized. They recognized that it was a magnificent building. So they thought it couldn’t have been designed by an Indian.
    • On the question as to who built the Taj Mahal, whether it was Austin de Bordeaux, a Frenchman or Geronimo Veroneo who were both in the Mughal court at the time quoted in: P.23
Base, dome and minaret - The tomb sits on a large marble platform, called a plinth. At each corner of this platform is a minaret.
  • The building is a domed structure made of white marble inlaid with colourful gemstones in the shapes of flowers. Passage from the Quran are inlaid in black marble.
    • In: P.23
  • The tomb sits on a large marble platform, called a plinth. At each corner of this platform is a minaret (a tall, narrow tower from which a Muslim calls the devout to prayer). It is this building which is called the Taj Mahal, although the name often refers to the whole complex.
    • In: p. 25
  • Mughal court records refer to Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb as the illuminate tomb, probably because of the beautiful decorations and passages from the Quran inlaid in the marble. (“Illuminated” refers to lustrous decoration and marble reflects light well). As the years passed, though, the tomb and surrounding complex came to be called the Taj Mahal. Historians aren’t really sure why, but most likely the name is an abbreviation of “Mumtaz Mahal”.
    • In: P.25-26
  • It is a spectacular example of Mughal architecture, blends Islamic, Hindu, and Persian styles.
    • In: P.26
  • Many of the architectural features found in it were first tried out in other buildings, such as the tombs of the emperors Humayun and Akbar.
    • in: P.27

It Never Disappoints; The Taj Mahal has the sort of majestic beauty that catches you unawares[edit]

Bill Coles in: It Never Disappoints; The Taj Mahal has the sort of majestic beauty that catches you unawares, The Wall Street Journal, 25 February 2006, the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.

  • It is, like the Mona Lisa, one of those masterpieces with which you will be outstandingly familiar long before you ever get to see it...it does not disappoint. It does not disappoint the first time you see it, nor the third time, nor even the 30th time...
Its appearance is constantly changing. It might sound strange to say this of an inanimate building, but every time you see the Taj, it looks different. The color of its white marble changes throughout the day, from the waxy yellow at dawn through to the pastel blue-gray of a full moon.
  • Its appearance is constantly changing. It might sound strange to say this of an inanimate building, but every time you see the Taj, it looks different. The color of its white marble changes throughout the day, from the waxy yellow at dawn through to the pastel blue-gray of a full moon.
  • It is, according to almost every guidebook, the world's "greatest monument to love.
... the Taj was long ago plundered of its loot, and all that remains in the crypt are the ornate marble tombs of Shah Jahan and his Mumtaz.
  • Shah Jahan was said to have been so delighted with the end result that he had the architect beheaded, the better to ensure that no other building would ever rival the Taj. Even to this day, the emperor's wish would appear to have come true...later on in his life, he planned to build a black Taj for himself on the other side of the Yamuna. It was to have been every bit as magnificent as the white Taj, and the two were to have been connected with a bridge of solid silver.
  • If the light is right, you can squint at the Taj and see the specter of its black twin on the other side of the Yamuna -- and it is then that you truly marvel not just at the Taj, but at the wonder of what might have been.

Taj Mahal[edit]

Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal
Artistic depiction of Mumtaz Mahal.

Giles Tillotson in: Taj Mahal, Profile Books, 1 October 2010

  • It is the queen of architecture. Other buildings may be as famous, but no other is so consistently admired for a beauty that is seen as both feminine and regal. Many people feel that to class Taj Mahal as architecture is a mistake: it is both too personal and too magnificent.
    • In: p. 1
  • To too many people in India it suggests not only a building but a blend of tea. It is also cry of admiration as Wah Taj!, indicative of Mughal sophistication and elegance...There are several appropriations to the building name to brand names such as of hotels, tea, saffron, and bars of soap and so forth.
    • In; P.2
  • It is a tomb, most famous of the Mughals, whose empire flourished in India between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, enshrining the remains of the fifth emperor of the dynasty, [[w:Shah Jahan|Shah Jehan| and those of his second wife Mumtaz Mahal. She died before him and construction of the complex began immediately.
    • In: p. 3
  • The building’s [[beauty is a metaphor for hers [Mumtaz Mahal] and is thus contemplated as feminine. It is builder's feeling for the woman interred within. What else but passion, they ask, could have inspired something so perfect?
    • In: P.4
  • So grand a structure cannot be purely and simply a tomb.
    • Wayne Begley commenting on the ideological agenda of Taj Mahal, quoted in: p. 6
  • Its secondary career has been as a symbol of India. The prize piece of Indian heritage, it is seen to embody the country’s celebrated history and civilization...Elevated to the national symbol by outsiders, not until about 1900 was it accepted as such by Indians.
    • In: P.6
  • Early Indian visitors to the Taj, who came either as pilgrims or sightseers, were far outnumbered by those going elsewhere. And this continues. Today it is seen by two million Indians per year. The Tirupati temple in southern India, meanwhile welcomes nearly twelve million pilgrims per year. Yet it is the Taj that is recognized as the symbol of India.
    • In: p. 6
  • The other seeming oddity of its role as a national symbol is that it has achieved this status for Indians in spite of it being Islamic.
    • In: P.6
  • The year 2005 was declared as the buildings 350th anniversary, and in September of that year, a crowd of people collectively offered at the building a shawl measuring 100 m in length....as a standard gesture of congratulations meted out to persons but offering a shawl at a tomb is a religious rite in Islam. To avoid any misunderstanding the members of this crowd were at pains to point out that they represented many different religions and theirs was a ‘secular shawl’. Reverence for the Taj was thereby removed from any specifically ‘Islamic’ context and a common ownership was declared.
    • In: P.7-8
  • No one it seems is willing to play by the rules. The original builders overlooked orthodoxy (Islamic), and modern devotees overlook unwanted historical associations, both in order to shape the Taj according to their own desires.
    • In: p. 8
  • One of the first to do [including Taj under the Seven Wonders of the world] so was the French physician François Bernier, who was present in India at the time of its construction and averred: 'this monument deserves much more to be numbered among the wonders of the world than the pyramids of Egypt’, which he described by comparison as ‘unshapen masses and heaps of stone’. The Taj has achieved inclusion among the New Seven Wonders of the World, the subject of a worldwide popular internet vote organized by the Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber.
    • In: P.11
  • There was a major restoration programme initiated by Lord Curzon. His efforts at the Taj Mahal have had a mixed reception. They are often judged to be largely benign, and they even received complimentary accolades from Jawaharlal Nehru. Post-colonial critics of the Raj have predictably been less willing to exonerate this exemplar of aristocracy.
    • In: p. 14
  • ...how Mughal is the name Taj Mahal anyway? It is usually said that the name derives from Mumtaz Mahal, the title given to the empress which means ‘select of the palace.’ There is room for doubt about this; ‘taj’ need not be abbreviation of ‘mumtaz’ since it is itself a perfectly good Persian word meaning ‘crown’. It is also worth noting that the building is not called Taj Mahal in the contemporary Mughal sources. Abdul Hamid Lahauri, the author of Padshahnama, the official history of Shah Jahan’s reign calls it rauza-i munawwara, meaning the illumined or illustrious tomb (where rauza implies specifically a tomb in a garden.
    • In: P.14
...Crowning this dome of heavenly rank, the circumference of whose outer girth is 110 yards, there has been affixed a golden filial 11 yards high, glittering like the sun, with its summit rising to a total height of 107 yards above the ground. - w:Abdul Hamid Lahauri Abdul Hamid Lahauri.
  • Above the inner domes, which is radiant like the hearts of angels, has been raised another heaven-touching, guava-shaped dome, to discover the minute mathematical degrees of which would confound even the celestial geometrician. Crowning this dome of heavenly rank, the circumference of whose outer girth is 110 yards, there has been affixed a golden filial 11 yards high, glittering like the sun, with its summit rising to a total height of 107 yards above the ground.
At the corner of the white marble platform, which is 23 yards above the level of the ground, stand four minarets, also of marble, with interior staircases and capped by cupolas, which are 7 cubits in diameter and rise to a total of 32 cubits from the pavement of the said platform to the filial, appearing as it were, like ladders reaching towards the heavens. - w:Abdul Hamid Lahauri Abdul Hamid Lahauri.
  • At the corner of the white marble platform, which is 23 yards above the level of the ground, stand four minarets, also of marble, with interior staircases and capped by cupolas, which are 7 cubits in diameter and rise to a total of 32 cubits from the pavement of the said platform to the filial, appearing as it were, like ladders reaching towards the heavens.
  • Its designers drew inspiration from three related traditions: the architecture of the Mughals' central Asian homeland; the buildings erected by earlier Muslim rulers of India, especially in the Delhi region; and the much older architectural expertise of India itself.
    • In: p. 46
  • For a building that is supposedly a symbol of love, it has generated a lot of anger. Or rather, some people have been angered by what others have said about it, and have felt called on to defend its honour.
    • In: p. 85

The Garden and the Fire: Heaven and Hell in Islamic Culture[edit]

Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs.

Nerina Rustomji]] in: The Garden and the Fire: Heaven and Hell in Islamic Culture, Columbia University Press, 1 October 2013

  • The interior dome of the mausoleum was built to evoke eternity, since it held a single tone for nearly half a minute. What is remarkable about it is not only the complete and sophisticated program that included architecture, inscriptions and floral imagery to project a permanent garden, but also the intention that the complex would be visited by a large public purpose.
  • It was intended as an earthly reflection of paradise not just for Mumtaz Mahal, but also for the visitors who would visit it over the years. In fact the larger Taj complex with its forecourt of the Jilaukhana complex and the surrounding bazar and caravanserai zone were meant to accommodate travelers.
    • In: P.154
  • It is a special case because it illustrates both intention to represent a Paradise on earth and reception of its message. While it is unique in scale and dimension, it also exemplifies the special place that gardens held for the Mughal dynasty.
    • In: P.179

External links[edit]

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