Building Materials Used for the Construction of TajMahal (1) Semi-precious stones like agate, Yemeni, turquoise, Lapis- lazuli; coral, onyx, cat's eye, jade and blood stone. These were mainly used for inlaying work. (2) Rare and scarce stones such as 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. (3) Common stones: 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 FatehpurSikri, 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. Country ingredients such as molasses; batashe (sugar-bubbles), belgiri-water, urd-pulse, curd, jute and Kankar (pieces of fossilized soil) were mixed with lime mortar to make it an ideal cementing material.
The tomb stands on a square plinth. The base structure is a large, multi-chambered structure. The main chamber houses the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz (the actual graves are a level below).
The base is essentially a cube with chamfered edges, roughly 55 metres on each side.Onthe long sides, a massive vaulted archway, frames the iwan, with a similar arch-shaped balcony above. These main arches extend above the roof of the building by use of an integrated facade.
Four minarets each more than 40 m tall frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. Each of the minarets was constructed slightly out of plumb to the outside of the plinth, so that in the event of collapse the material would tend to fall away from the tomb.
The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is its most spectacular feature. Its height is about the same size as the base of the building, about 35 m. Its height is accentuated because it sits on a cylindrical "drum" about 7 m high. The dome is topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Islamic and Hindu decorative elements.
The decorative elements come in three categories:1) Calligraphy 2) Abstract geometric elements 3) Vegetative motifs Islamic strictures forbade the use of anthropomorphic forms.
The interior of the mausoleum comprises a lofty central chamber, a crypt immediately below this and four octagonal corner rooms originally intended to house the graves of other royal family members
Tombs of Shah Jahan and MumtazMahal Cenotaphs, interior of TajMahal
TajMahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in the memory of his beloved wife, MumtazMahal. Apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, TajMahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The name TajMahal, with Taj meaning Crown and Mahal meaning Palace, literally means ‘Crown Palace’. The construction work on TajMahal was started in the year 1632 and carried on for the next 16 years, ending in 1648. It is believed that 20,000 workmen, who worked on a daily basis, were involved in the construction of TajMahal. It is said that as many as 1000 elephants were used to transport the white marbled used in construction of TajMahal.
The main entrance gate of TajMahal faces the Southern gate and is 151 feet by 117 feet. It rises to a height of 100 feet. A very popular myth surrounding the TajMahal is that after its construction, Shah Jahan ordered amputation of the hands of all the workers. It is said that he wanted to make sure that no person on this earth will ever be able to recreate the magic of ‘Taj’. The cost of construction of TajMahal, even at that time, came to 32 crore rupees. The inlay work in the TajMahal has been done with 28 kind of rare, semi precious and precious stones. The calligrapher of TajMahal was Amanat Khan Shirazi, since his name appears at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the Taj. The main red sandstone gate of TajMahal is 30 feet high and stands adorned with verses from the Koran, in Arabic.
The central dome of TajMahal is 187 feet high at the centre. The architecture of TajMahal represents a kind of fusion of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. The main building of TajMahal is surrounded by gardens known as Charbagh (four gardens), measuring 300 X 300 mt. The minarets of TajMahal measure 41.6 m in height and have a deliberate outward slant. The interior of the TajMahal comprises of a lofty central chamber, which has a crypt immediately below it. There is a mosque on the left of TajMahal, made of red sandstone. It is used for conducting Friday prayers, even today. There is another mosque, standing on TajMahal’s right hand side. Since it faces west, it is not used for prayers. It is believed to have been built for maintaining symmetry.