ArchDaily | Broadcasting Architecture Worldwidethe world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

h

Nominate now the Building of the Year 2017 »

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Cultural Architecture
  4. India
  5. Shah Jahan
  6. 1653
  7. AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan
AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan, © Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

© Wikimedia Commons © Wikimedia Commons © Wikimedia Commons © Wikimedia Commons +24

From the architect. Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal's harmonious integration with its environment makes it a prime destination for many. Completed in 1648 as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan's late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it stands as a symbol of eternal love as its history and beauty never fail to captivate the heart.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

More than twenty thousand workers were hired to complete the masterpiece that is the Taj Mahal, from its grand exterior to the most intricate details of the interior spaces. Construction began in 1632 and continued persistently until 1648 when the principal mausoleum was completed and the other surrounding buildings started. It wasn't until five years later that these and the gardens were finished.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The Taj Mahal is a perfect representation of the Mughal style, which fuses architecture techniques of Persian, Islamic and Indian styles. This connection can be easily made, as the red sandstone and white marble materials are classic to the Mughal style. 

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The most recognizable aspect of the complex is the tomb; standing on a square plinth, the structure consists of a symmetrical building with an arch-shaped doorway, or iwan, topped with a large dome and finial. These basic elements are Persian in origin.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The multi-chambered cube has chamfered corners, which creates an unequal octagon that measures about 55 meters on each side. All four walls frame the iwan with their vaulted archways, or pishtaqs. The boundaries of the white marble tomb are framed with four minarets, one at each corner.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

Designed to be functional minarets, they are traditional elements of mosques that call Islamic faithful to prayer as they stand more than 40 meters tall. In the event that the minarets collapsed, they were designed and built to fall away from the tomb. In the main chamber, false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan can be found, and their actual graves rest lower into the ground.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The most distinguishable feature of the structure is the marble dome, with a height around 35 meters, that sits atop a cylindrical drum roughly 7 meters high. Decorated with a lotus design, the top of the dome is accentuated which makes it appear even taller.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

This shape is replicated in the four smaller domed kiosks at the corners, with bases that open to provide light to the interior of the tomb. Spires that are tall and decorative extend from the edges of walls of the base, which also emphasize the height and repeat the lotus motif.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

Evidence of the thousands of craftsmen and workers that were used to build the Taj Mahal is found in the detail of the surface area, which is related proportionally on every scale. With elements varying from paint, stucco, stone inlays and carvings, they are used to represent calligraphy, abstract forms and vegetative motifs. Passages from the Qur'an are also used, specifically ones that refer to themes of judgement.

© Taj Mahal Virtual Tour
© Taj Mahal Virtual Tour

It is hard to believe that the interior can be just as captivating as the exterior, but the inlays of precious and semiprecious gemstones and the detailed carvings tie the astonishing experiences together, creating a harmonious and somewhat religious encounter. 

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The space is defined by eight pishtaq arches, which form four central upper arches. These become balconies and viewing areas, with exterior windows featuring marvelous views and intricate screens cut from marble. Light enters through these windows as well as through openings in the corners of the roof.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

The Mughal garden is divided into 16 sunken flowerbeds, surrounding a central reflecting pool on the north-south axis. Typical gardens were designed with the tomb or pavilion in the center, so the Taj Mahal is unusual in that the main element is located at the end of the garden. At the other ends of the garden are the mausoleums built for Shah Jahan's other wives, as well as one for Mumtaz's favorite servant. Composed mostly of red sandstone, these were more similar to the Mughal tombs of the era. These two grand buildings are open to the sides of the tomb, and are mirror images of each other. One is a mosque, and the other is used as an architectural balance and possibly as a guesthouse.

© Wikimedia Commons
© Wikimedia Commons

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 has been made;

To display thereby the creator's glory.

In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Megan Sveiven. "AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan" 02 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/100528/ad-classics-taj-mahal-shah-jahan/>
Read comments

46 Comments

Megan Ward · March 20, 2012

Famous Mausoleum.. The Taj Mahal
http://t.co/eEv35XwK

young_user · March 03, 2012

i cant believe you made a mistake like this!!!!the architect is not shah jahan!he was the king who hired a persian architect to build this temple.The chief architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, an Indian of Persian descent.you can easily see the persian architecture techniques used in Tajmahal...
anyway, Shah Jahan had his minions cut off the hands of the Taj Mahal's architect after the structure was completed, ensuring they would never build another of its kind. so the architect is definitely not shah jahan he was the crazy guy who cut off the architects hand!!!so please do correct the mistake its a shame to name him as the architct...!

Josh · January 20, 2011

I find the very reason it exists a great tribute to architecture and
it's importance in society, as an expression and as a symbol...

Graphity · January 19, 2011

"In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site." http://feedly.com/k/eMDLOF

Aqua Blue Pools · January 07, 2011

Love water and architecture..... just absolutely beauuuuuteeeeeeful!!!!! http://fb.me/HPwI67uI

yuyuyu · January 06, 2011

??????????????? AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://www.archdaily.com/10052...

iimura kenji · January 05, 2011

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????QT ???????AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://bit.ly/hX02b6

TsubasaKoumura · January 05, 2011

RT @thykw: ???????AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://bit.ly/hX02b6

tomokazu hayakawa · January 05, 2011

???????AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://bit.ly/hX02b6

okauchi yuka · January 05, 2011

RT @thykw: ???????AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://bit.ly/hX02b6

Goutam Mitra · January 04, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture #in

Grazia Design · January 04, 2011
Priya Bhayana · January 04, 2011

gorgeous imagery of the taj http://goo.gl/r6fgx via archdaily.com

Priya Bhayana · January 04, 2011

gorgeous imagery of the taj http://goo.gl/r6fgx

daqb design · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

enrico · January 03, 2011

A stunning building, a magic atmosphere.

Andy Marshall · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://pulsene.ws/DHlH #architecture

Knut Eric Wingsch · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://fb.me/AG6OCnUE

ilaria defilippo · January 03, 2011

Taj Mahal • http://bit.ly/fYmtdi #architecture #mausoleum #India #TajMahal #Mughal #Agra

Ujenzi Bora · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan Cc: @nzembi @natekev http://bit.ly/h3ZV26

Susana Hdz · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

Rajan Reddy · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

frooqi · January 03, 2011

Documentary by art commentator Waldemar Januszczak on Islamic architecture (including of course the Taj Mahal) here:

http://www.youtube.com/mrfrooq...

Al Handasi · January 03, 2011

Good article, but the architect is not Shah Jehan. The architect is mentioned here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U...

DEZIGN · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia CommonsEasily one of the most recognizable buildings in the worl... http://bit.ly/hHJdfJ

MNR · January 03, 2011

RT @moldingdesign: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the world... http://bit.ly/eLcrhA

tuttibubulonis · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia Commons Easily one of the most recognizable… http://goo.gl/fb/OB1s8

Scott @ Cube Studio · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan | ArchDaily: Easily one of the most recognizable buildin... http://bit.ly/gb1YVC www.cubestudio.info

Architekt R V Scholz · January 03, 2011

#Architekt #Calau AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia CommonsEasily one of the... http://bit.ly/i6sGgG #in http://dy.cx/c03

Architecture+Molding · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal’s... http://bit.ly/eLcrhA

DesignGraph · January 03, 2011
Stella · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

spectives#design · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal’s... http://bit.ly/gBO6iu

Barry Maguire · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan via ArchDaily - ©Wikimedia Commons Easily one of the most ... http://tinyurl.com/2b57k7r

Engy · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan via ArchDaily - ©Wikimedia Commons Easily one of the most ... http://tinyurl.com/24jnk29

Vincent Beneche · January 03, 2011

RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

Corporate Punk · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia CommonsEasily one of the most recognizable buildings in the worl... http://bit.ly/eq5zgY

Priya Bhayana · January 03, 2011

RT @archfeeds: Via @ArchDaily - AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://dlvr.it/CY8Lp #architecture

???? · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan | ArchDaily http://t.co/ABiUFC9 via @archdaily

GR2TF · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia CommonsEasily one of the most recognizable buildings in the worl... http://bit.ly/hHJdfJ

Alison do Carmo · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

ArchitecturePassion · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia CommonsEasily one of the most recognizable buildings in th... http://tinyurl.com/26h7wno

MNR · January 03, 2011

RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

Ayesha Luciano · January 03, 2011

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan http://archdai.ly/h80sVU #architecture

Erik Joya · January 03, 2011

AD Classics: Taj Mahal / Shah Jahan: ©Wikimedia Commons Easily one of the most recognizable… http://goo.gl/fb/7iesO

justbeinghelpful · January 03, 2011

there is a typo error in the date written in the article

"Construction began in 1932 and continued persistently until 1648 when the principal mausoleum was completed and the other surrounding buildings started"

···

Comments are closed

Read comments