One of the wonders of the world and the spectacular mausoleum that has been constructed in the year, 1654 by emperor Shah Jahan stands as a magnificent triumph of Indian architectural traits. The Taj Mahal, rendered by the Mughals is a splendid expression of architectural nuances of Indian architects. The monument in its entirety is the result of the grand total of all the efforts put meticulously by the expert artists of the age. 22,000 laborers lent their skills and sweat into construction of the mausoleum.
The chief architect of this mausoleum was Isa Mohammad Khan who was assisted by Ustad Isa of Persia. Qazim Khan of Lahore did the golden embroidery works where as Amanat Ali Khan of Iran did the calligraphy. Mohammad Arif was the chief supervisor. The Taj Mahal is the construction of architectural beauty, the construction traits of which are matchless.
The materials used in the construction of the Taj were very precious. A range of precious stones were used in construction of the Taj Mahal. Semi-precious stones like Aqiq (agate), Yemeni, Firoza (turquoise), Lajwad (Lapis- lazuli); moonga (coral), Sulaimani (onyx), Lahsunia (cat's eye), Yasheb (jade) and Pitunia (blood stone) were used in the construction process of the monument. These were mainly used for inlaying work.
Rare and scarce stones such as Tilai (goldstone), Zahar-mohra, Ajuba, Abri, Khathu, Nakhod and Maknatis (magnet stone) were used for bold inlay and mosaic work chiefly on floors, exterior dados and turrets. Common stones like sang-i-Gwaliari (grey and yellow sandstone) sang-i-Surkh (red sandstone), sang-i-moosa (black slate) and sang-i-Rukhan (sang-i-marmar; white marble) were used in foundations, masonry and for giving finishing touch to the external surfaces. Red stone was brought from the neighboring towns like Fatehpur Sikri, Karauli-Hindaun, Tantpur and Paharpur whereas white marble was brought from Makrana mines (Rajasthan). Semi precious and rare stones were occasionally brought from as distant places such as Upper Tibet, Kumaon, Jaisalmer, Cambay and Ceylon.
They harmonized all the fine features in their minutest details and brilliantly put together to produce the most pleasant impression. The minarets and the grand elevation play an important part in the aesthetics of the Taj Mahal.
The architect used his intricate skills and laid a beautiful garden in front of the monument. This, he planned in a way that it presents the white marble structure more imposingly. The main idea behind laying the garden was to give the monument a more beautiful setting. The sky provides a wonderful backdrop to the Taj. He planned it in such a style that the Taj grandly overhanged the river and the view is always seen in harmony with a blue sky in the background.
There are many substantial factors which add to the beauty of the Taj. Various parts combine together in symmetry and pleasing proportion to make the monument look more astonishing. And all these structural masses have been beautifully harmonized. The overall unity which has thus been obtained is simply elegant.
A wonderful artistic and visual effect of the Taj is obtained by its elevation, superstructure, balanced and symmetrical combination of its parts. Different structural masses have been balanced most harmoniously. The monument reflects beautiful admixture of lines, horizontal with vertical on the one hand and straight with curved on the other. A combination of solids and voids imparts a three dimensional effect and allows a beautiful play of light and gives a color independence to the monument.
Not only white marble was selected by the architects for exterior decoration but they also manipulated the material to produce the best possible effects of light. This is best reflected in the colored inlay of the portal-dados, the spandrels of the arches and the pilasters.
The receding plinths, give the Taj a towering effect and it appears as if it is about to rise high into the sky. The Taj marks the ultimate moment in the development of Mughal architecture. It formed the stage of the art from where it could only decline.
The Taj is the perfect expression of beauty and the illusionary effect of the monument adds to its aesthetics. This illusion was created by the architect with the help of such gross materials as lime, brick and white marble.
All this go together to prove the fact that the Taj is more a work of art than of architecture. It is more a work of beauty than a mere Mughal mausoleum. The architect of the Taj was a great master of aesthetics and he successfully incorporated it in his masterpiece.