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  • Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Case 9/Picture 11 (28.11.2013.)

The Taj Mahal

Built in the memory of a maternal death

Taj Mahal

“…The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes…” – Shah Jahan


* The Taj Mahal, from Persian/Urdu, “crown of palaces” is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

*  The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

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

* It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. * In 1631, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken when Mumtaz Mahal died during the birth of their 14th child Gauharara Begum (June 17, 1631) from Postpartum Haemorrhage (bleeding after childbirth).

* The child, Gauharara Begum, however, lived for about 75 years.

* In their nineteen years of marriage, they had fourteen children together, seven of whom died at birth or at a very young age (perinatal, neonatal and childhood deaths).

* Construction of Taj Mahal – 1632 to 1653 (21 years)
* The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.
*  Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome).
* The Taj Mahal was built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the center of Agra in exchange for the land.
* A labour force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India.
* The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afganistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.
* The total cost has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees at that time.
* There is no evidence for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb.
* A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble as a Black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna river.
* During the time of the Indian rebellion in 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by the British soldiers and government officials, who chiselled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls.
* The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists. UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors in 2001, including more than 200,000 from overseas.
* The grounds are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan. For security reasons only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies’ purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.
* Among the buildings modelled on the Taj Mahal include the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, West Bengal,  the Taj Mahal Bangladesh, the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mumtaz Mahal
Mumtaz Mahal
* Mumtaz Mahal means “the chosen one of the palace”
* Mumtaz’s original name was Arjumand Banu. She was born in Agra on 1 September 1593 into a family of Persian nobility, as a daughter of Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, making her a niece (and later daughter-in-law) of Empress Nur Jahan, the wife of the Emperor Jahangir. Arjumand Banu Begum was married at the age of 19, on 10 May 1612, to Prince Khurram, known as Shah Jahan, who conferred upon her the title “Mumtaz Mahal”.
* Empress Mumtaz was religiously a Shia Muslim.
* Mumtaz died in Burhanpur in 1631 AD (1040 AH), while giving birth to their fourteenth child. She had been accompanying her husband while he was fighting a campaign in the Deccan Plateau. Her body was temporarily buried at Burhanpur in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad originally constructed by Shah Jahan’s uncle Daniyal on the bank of the Tapti River. The contemporary court chroniclers paid an unusual amount of attention to Mumtaz Mahal’s death and Shah Jahan’s grief at her demise. In the immediate aftermath of his bereavement, the emperor was reportedly inconsolable. Apparently after her death, Shah Jahan went into secluded mourning for a year. When he appeared again, his hair had turned white, his back was bent, and his face worn. Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter, the devoted Jahanara Begum, gradually brought him out of grief and took the place of Mumtaz at court.
* Burhanpur was never intended by Shah Jahan as his wife’s final resting spot. As a result her body was disinterred in December 1631 and transported in a golden casket escorted by her son Shah Shuja and the head lady in waiting of the deceased Empress back to Agra. There it was interred in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna River. Shah Jahan stayed behind in Burhanpur to conclude the military campaign that had originally brought him to the region. While there, he began planning the design and construction of a suitable mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra for his wife. It was a task that would take more than 22 years to complete: the Taj Mahal. Postpartum Hemorrhage Today: Living in the Shadow of the TajMahal.

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