Shah Jahan was emperor during one of the most prosperous periods in the Mughal Empire’s history. In 1631, the beloved third wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal, passed away while giving birth to their 14th child. To show his love for Mumtaz, Shah Jahan comissioned the building of the most beautiful and magnificant masoleum.
Construction on the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and continued for 22 years until it was completed around 1653. Shah Jahan employed several architects to design the Taj Mahal, but Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is considered to be the lead architect. The Taj Mahal’s design is a blend of traditional Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. Many older buildings were constructed using red sandstone, but Shah Jahan preferred the use of white marble accented with semi-precious jewels in his buildings. Over 20,000 workers were used to build the Taj Mahal, while over 1,000 elephants pulled the heavy blocks of marble to the construction site.
The corners of the Taj Mahal’s main building were chamfered, so it takes the shape of an uneven octagon. Each side of the building is symmetrical with each side having a grand arched shaped doorway (iwan) set in a vaulted archway (phistaq). Two smaller iwans set in phistaqs stacked on top of each other were built next to each grand iwan. The same stacked iwan design was used on each of the chamfered corners. Each symmertrical side is 180 feet long. The massive base was built on a decorative square plinth. Minarets are set on each corner of the plinth and face the chamfered corner of base. Each Minaret is 130 feet tall and was fully functional during its use.
Quick Facts & Figures
Construction Start: 1632
Construction Ended: 1653
Lead Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri
Base Length: 180′
Minaret Height: 130′