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the taj mahal
By Dennis Batchelder 6 April 1998

ok - more on the taj mahal. we endured 6 hours of crazy taxi driving each way to see it.for 90 minutes of viewing. was it worth it?

you bet it was! it was stunning, magnificant, awesome.

first of all, the history. "Mum Taj Mahal" is the nickname Shah Jehan (son of Akbar) gave to his third wife (a good Muslim, he had four). She bore Shah Jehan all 14 of his children. She was deeply loved by the Shah Jehan (that means King of the World), and travelled with him everywhere. She died at the age of 39, while giving birth to the 14th child.

Shah Jehan never remarried, and spent the next 22 years building this tomb for her. he hired an architect from turkey, and an engineer from iran, who designed the Taj Mahal. He hired 20,000 Muslims to build it, and spent 65 million rupees for their labor (today's $8.4 billion US) to build the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is constructed out of white marble. all the designs and inscriptions are made by inlaying semi-precious stones into the marble, including jade, onyx, black marble, lapiz lazuli, mother of pearl, abalone shells, etc. the effect of the translucent marble mixed with these stones is breathtaking! the Taj Mahal changes colors based on the time of day: pink at sunrise, white/yellow during the day, ivory in the moonlight.

what i thought was the most impressive part, though, was the symmetry and the mathematical preciseness of it all. standing in the center of the gate 400 meters away from the taj, you have a perfect view, framed by the inner door of the gate. walking closer to the relecting pools, you see every part of it designed perfectly to make all the architectural lines come together. what incredible planning! And to think that these guys were building this while the Pilgrims were trying to survive. It boggles the mind.

anyway, it was awesome. we had a really good tour guide who gave us lots of history, and who knew all the great spots to stand for the perfect views.

i've enclosed the following pictures:

1) the taj mahal from the reflecting pool. This beast is huge: the base is 100 meters square, the platform is 6 meters tall, the cresent on top is 10 meters. Total height:
2) the taj mahal carvings. each line you see is inlaid semi-precious stones 3 mm. thick
3) the taj mahal framed by one of the gates.
4) this is a group of Muslim direct descendants from the original workers, who pass down through the generations how to do this kind of work. we saw
them at a government sponsored factory.

the taj mahal - india