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World Mysteries – Mysteries Surrounding The Construction of Taj Mahal

Updated on July 20, 2015
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is in Agra, India and it is one the greatest wonders of the world. UNESCO declared Taj Mahal as a World Heritage Site in 1983 and also cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” It is considered as one of the finest example of Mughal architecture (a combination of Persian, Indian, Islamic and Ottoman architectural styles), a dynasty that ruled India from 16th to 18th century A.D. This spectacular architectural beauty seems to glow in the light and the views of Taj Mahal at the time of sunrise and at sunset are enchanting.

Mughal dynasty was founded in India by Baber in 16th century and Shah Jahan was the fifth king of that dynasty. His wife Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth and the king decided to construct a tomb to keep her memory alive forever. The construction of Taj Mahal was started in 1632 and completed in 1653. This white marble memorial is a classic expression of a man’s love for his woman.

Taj Mahal

The Construction of Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal was constructed on the land bought by Shah Jahan from the Maharajah Jai Singh in exchange of a palace in Agra. Ustad Isa of Persia and Isa Muhammad Effendi of Persia were the architectural designers of this monument. The main dome was designed by Ismail Khan of Ottoman Empire.

Front View of Taj Mahal
Front View of Taj Mahal

For the construction works of Taj Mahal, 1000 elephants were used to transport building materials to the site of construction. White marble was brought from Rajasthan, crystals from China, turquoise from Tibet and sapphire brought from Sri Lanka.

22 years have been taken to complete the work of this memorial; a labor force of twenty thousand workers participated in this mammoth effort. Workers have been brought from different places as per the requirement of the expertise of the work that was to be completed; stonecutters were brought from Baluchistan, sculptors were from Bukhara and calligraphers from Syria.

Inside Taj Mahal

The Controversial Stories behind the Construction of Taj Mahal

Popular history is that Taj Mahal was constructed by Shah Jahan as a memorial of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. But some scholars do not support the story that this monument was built by Shah Jahan.

Taj Mahal Reflection on Yamuna River
Taj Mahal Reflection on Yamuna River | Source

Their argument is that this structure was an ancient temple of Lord Shiva (‘Tejo Mahalaya’ as known locally) built by the Rajputs of Agra and the Moghul Emperor captured it somehow and remodeled as his wife’s tomb. The main arguments supporting this theory are:

  • The name of the monument ‘Taj Mahal’ often found similarity with the buried Queen’s name ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. But the actual name of the Queen was Mumtaz-ul Zamani. Supporters of temple theory argue that ‘Taj Mahal’ was a corrupt version of ‘Tejo Mahalaya’, which means the Siva’s (Lord Shiva) Palace.

Morning View of Taj Mahal
Morning View of Taj Mahal | Source
  • ‘Mahal’ is an Indian word and it means ‘Palace’; it is not proper to call a tomb as ‘Mahal or Palace’. The name ‘Taj Mahal’ may be derived from the earlier temple’s name ‘Tejo Mahalaya’ which means ‘The Palace of Shiva’.
  • Under the rule of Moghul dynasty, many temples and mansions were captured and used for different purposes; it was a common practice at that time. In the autobiography of Babur, the founder of Moghul dynasty, he stated that a crystal palace in Agra was conquered by him and used as his summer palace. Other Moghul Kings Humayun, Akbar and many other prominent courtesans of Moghul period were buried in such remolded mansions.

Night View of Taj Mahal
Night View of Taj Mahal | Source
  • Professor P.N. Oak, author of the book ‘Taj Mahal’, supported this theory and he argues that Taj Mahal was not the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, but it was a temple earlier. Shah Jahan acquired the procession of the temple from Maharaja of Jaipur and remodeled it to his wife’s tomb. In his official biography ‘Badshahnama’ (on page 403 of Vol I), Shah Jahan mentioned about the acquisition of a beautiful mansion from Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur for the purpose of the burial of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Tah Mahal Mosque
Tah Mahal Mosque | Source
  • There are some documentary evidences also to support this theory. An English traveller Peter Mundy, who visited Agra within a year after Mumtaz’s death, wrote about this beautiful building which was there well before the time of Shah Jahan. Another European traveller Johan Albert Mandelso who came to Agra in 1638 made no reference about the construction works of this tomb. New York Professor Marvin Miller had done carbon dating tests of the samples taken from the riverside door of Taj Mahal and found that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan’s time.

More Mysteries Surrounding Taj Mahal

Many secret rooms are there in Taj Mahal which is not open to public. They were in closed status since the time of Shah Jahan. Those who are supporting the theory that Taj Mahal was formerly a temple, believes that all the remains of the temple (including a statue of Lord Shiva) were hidden behind these closed doors banning visitors and researchers to know the true history about the origin of the monument.

Entrance of Taj Mahal
Entrance of Taj Mahal | Source
  • Source of one of the streams found in Taj Mahal is not visible; it seems to flow out of nowhere. Researchers believe that the source of this stream is the same source which poured water on the Shivlinga (a conventional method to worship Lord Shiva) when Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple.
  • The Government of India is not allowing anybody to do more research about the sealed rooms, fearing that it will provoke communal riots. The Government also put a ban on any research on the origin of Taj Mahal and even tried to withdraw the book ‘Taj Mahal’, written by Professor P.N. Oak by threatening the publishers when it was first published. In 2000, P.N. Oak (author of the book ‘Taj Mahal’) submitted a writ petition to the Supreme Court of India to declare this monument was built by a Hindu king, but it was also rejected.

View of Taj Mahal Through the Entrance
View of Taj Mahal Through the Entrance | Source

Taj Mahal is indeed a mind capturing and beautiful creation like a poem written on white marble. But many mysteries that are surrounding about the origin of this monument are still remaining unsolved. The authorities are reluctant to do further research on the subject; their interest is only to maintain the present status. Historical facts are to be updated according to the new findings and developments in the related researches and studies. But here further studies or researches are not undertaking because of the fear that it may become harmful to the present peaceful social set up.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've always had a fascination with the Taj Mahal. Wonderful read!

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 2 years ago from India

      Well said.

      We hear these stories a lot of times.

      Don't know what is the truth. Many temples were captured and destroyed or converted by Mughal emperors is a truth.

      Another truth in front of our eyes is that Taj Mahal is stunningly beautiful

      Great article

      Voted up and shared