The Taj Mahal Complex
The Taj Mahal Complex in Agra covers an area measuring 60 bighas. The terrain gradually slopes from south to north and incline towards the Yamuna River that shapes up like descending terraces. The forecourt is situated at the southern point with the main gate built in front. The tombs of Akbarabadi Begum and Fatehpuri Begum, who were the Queens of Emperor ShahJahan are situated herewith on the south-east and south-west corners and are respectively named as Saheli Burj 1 and Saheli Burj 2.
On the second terrace is a spacious square garden, with side pavilions. It is divided into four quarters by broad shallow canals of water, with wide walkways and cypress avenues on the sides. The water channels and fountains are fed by overhead water tanks. These four quarters are further divided into the smaller quarters by broad causeways, so that the whole scheme is in a perfect char-bagh.
The main tomb situated within the Taj Mahal reveals a square shaped structure with chamfered corners. The minarets are detached and face the chamfered corners of the main tomb which is placed on the main plinth. A red sandstone mosque erected on the western end and the Mehman-Khana erected on the eastern side of the tomb offer an aesthetic appearance with its clear contrast of colour.
The Taj Mahal Complex features some of the most spectacular specimens that depict polychrome inlay art work on both the interior and exterior sections. These are seen on the cenotaphs, the dados, and on the marble Jhajjhari or Jali-screen fringed around them.
The Taj Complex Components
It was in the year 1632 that ShahJahan, the fifth Moghul Emperor, initiated the development of one of the best landmarks ever, the Taj Mahal worked on a 22 feet high and 313 feet square platform with corner minarets 137 feet tall and 81 feet high and 58 feet in distance across focal inward vault surmounted by an external shell about 200 feet in stature. As present, an “UNESCO World Heritage Site,” the sepulcher worked to satisfy a promise he made to his dearest wife, Mumtaz Mahal as she laid on her deathbed, “To erect a landmark to match her magnificence.”
THE MOSQUE and JAWAB
The sepulcher is flanked by verging on indistinguishable two structures on either side of the platform. The mosque on the west (left, when seen from the greenery enclosure) and the Mihman Khana or assembly hall on the east are the integral components of the riverfront troupe. Toward the east is the Jawab, which signifies “answer,” balances the respective symmetry of the structure and was initially utilized as a site for accommodating and entertaining significant guests.
The catacomb is the prevailing and novel element in the focal point of the tripartite artwork of the qarina plan, and the lateral structures, correct alike, are the mirror-symmetrical segments. Still, the mosque sets the tone, and as a religious building, it gives the riverfront extra gravity. It is recognized by a couple of components identified with the ritual of request to God and the sermon. The mosque floor was laid out with the blueprints of mats with 569 requests to God imprinted in dark marble. Moghul mosques of that era isolate the lobby of the sanctuary into three territories. At the Taj Mahal, every one of these opens onto vaulting arch.
MIHMAN KHANA (THE ASSEMBLY HALL)
The Mihman Khana was made as its imitation exclusively to adjust the gathering, to give a jawab, an answer, for the mosque balances the reciprocal symmetry of the structure. Its unique capacity was to suit guests for watching the passing commemorations of Mumtaz, which were held in the initial couple of years in tents, occurred in this building once it was finished. The platform here has two ‘working drawings’ of the finial of the catacomb arch outline dented into stone chunks. These are frequently found in structures created by ShahJahan.
Both, the Mosque and the Mihman Khana (Assembly Hall), are preceded by an expansive platform, 25 inches over the level of the patio. On every side, the region between these platforms and the sepulcher is explained as a shallow depressed rectangular ‘court’. The tank is a ritual necessity of the mosque for the ablutions before petition to God. The tank of the Mihman Khana is a counter-image with no capacity.
THE JILAUKHANA (FORECOURT ZONE)
The Taj complex is currently accessible through one of three gateways leading into the Jilaukhana, or the forecourt zone. The east and west gateways are those usually utilized by visitors. The arcaded ranges along the south side of the Jilaukhana, and the bazaar avenues prompting it were restored between 1905 AD and 1922 AD. The street toward the west gateway is flanked by two inter-structures – the ‘Fatehpuri Masjid’ and an unknown tomb, which is presumably believed to be that of the Chief Lady-in-waiting of Mumtaz Mahal, named Satti-un-Nisa Khanum.
The two bazaar boulevards lead into the considerable stylized forecourt, alluded to as “jilaukhana” (truly, ‘before the house’). An obvious component of the Shahjahani design for court decorum and legitimate stylized conduct had turned out to be progressively imperative and required a satisfactory engineering encircling. Here guests to the tomb would get down from their elephants and stallions and amass in style before entering through the immense gateway. The Jilaukhana is flanked by two sets of fenced courtyard or enclosures. On the north, bordering the patio nursery wall, are the two Khawasspuras, the quarters of the tomb specialists. On the south are two tomb buildings, generally known as ‘Saheli Burj’ or the tower of the ‘female companion’.
THE SAHELI BURJ (INNER SUBSIDIARY TOMBS)
The two Saheli Burj are identical tombs situated at the southern corners of the jilaukhana. They are believed to be smaller than expected imitations of the primary complex and stand on raised platforms accessed by steps. Each octagonal tomb is built on a rectangular platform flanked by smaller rectangular structures before which is laid a charbagh garden. Some vulnerability exists as to whom the tombs may memorialize. Their depictions are truant from the contemporary records either on the grounds that they were not assembled or in light of the fact that they were overlooked, being the tombs of the ladies. As per the principal record that mentions them, the plan was drawn in 1789 by Thomas and William Daniel, in which the eastern tomb is set apart as that fitting in with Akbarabadi Mahal and the western as Fatehpuri Mahal (the two other wives of Emperor ShahJahan.)
KHAWASSPURAS (NORTHERN COURTYARDS)
A couple of patios are found in the northern corners of the jilaukhana, which gave quarters (Khawasspuras) for the tombs chaperons and the Hafiz. This private component offered a shift between the outside world and the other-common delights of the tomb complex. The Khawasspuras had fallen into a condition of deterioration by the late eighteenth century, yet the foundation of the Khadim proceeded into the twentieth century.
The Khawasspuras were restored by Lord Curzon as part of his repairs somewhere around the 1900 and 1908, after which the western yard was utilized as a nursery for the greenery enclosure and the western patio was utilized as a dairy stable for farm animals until 2003.
THE BAZAAR STREETS
Two indistinguishable bazaar boulevards lead from the east and west gateways to the Jilaukhana. The boulevards are lined with lines of small detached rectangular cells devoid of windows, with a façade of arcaded verandah with multi-cusped curves bolstered by segments of particular Shahjahani type of style, which show up here in their most essential structure.
Over the arcades inclining sandstone parts upheld by volute sections venture from the wall as a shield from downpour or sun; this component, known as chhajja, is the Moghul variant of a structure that had been a well-known Indian architectural design for a considerable length of time.
THE TAJ GANJI (THE TAJ MARKETPLACE)
The caravanserai and bazaar were built as a basic part of the complex, at first to furnish the laborers with convenience and facilities for their wellbeing, and later as a spot for trade, the income of which supplemented the costs of the complex. The section turned into a residential area in its own time during and after the working of the Taj. It was initially known as ‘Mumtazabad’, and at presenty, is called Taj Ganji or the ‘Taj Market’.
Its planning took the trademark type of a square separated by two cross pivotal roads with doors to the four cardinal tapered ends. Bazaars enveloped every road and the resultant squares to every corner housed the caravanserais in wide open courtyards accessed from the interiors of the gateways from where the avenues met the Chowk. Modern-day sources give careful consideration toward the north eastern and western parts of the Taj Ganji or the Taj Market, and it is likely that just this half earned tremendous finance. Along these lines, the nature of the design was better than the southern half.
The refinement between how the sacrosanct part of the complex and the mainstream was respected is most intense in this part of the complex. Whilst whatever is left of the complex were maintained post its development, the Taj Ganji turned into a clamoring town and the focal point of Agra’s monetary traffic where “various types of stock from each area, assortments of products from each nation, a wide range of extravagances of that time, and different sorts of need of human advancement and comfort living, brought from all parts of the world” were retailed.
A thought of what kind of merchandise may have been exchanged is found in the names for the caravanserais; the north western one was known as ‘Katra Omar Khan’ or ‘Market of Omar Khan’, the north eastern as ‘Katra Fulel’ or ‘Perfume Market’, the south western as ‘Katra Resham’ or ‘Silk Market’ and the south eastern as ‘Katra Jogidas’. It has been continually redeveloped following the time of its development, to the degree that by the nineteenth century, it was unrecognizable as part of the Taj Mahal and didn’t really included on contemporary plans, and its engineering was to a great extent, crushed.
Today, the differentiation is stark between the Taj Mahal’s rich, formal geometric format and the narrow roads with natural, irregular and un-merged developments found in the Taj Ganji. Just sections of the first developments remain – most strikingly the gates.
FATEHABADI DARWAZA (THE EAST GATE) and FATEHPURI DARWAZA (WEST GATE)
The east and west gates are indistinguishable. Their external veneers have an expansive focus with a pishtaq, here taking the type of a pointed Archway in a rectangular edge, set between connected polygonal shafts topped by fancy zeniths stretching out above the rooftop level, which stamp the middle off from flanking angled areas of the wall. At the top is a parapet cut in alleviation with a trademark Moghul example of multi-cusped crenellations. Here we first experience the triadic structure that determines most veneers in the Taj complex, including that of the sepulcher.
SIDHI DARWAZA (THE SOUTH GATE)
The configuration of the south gate is a vertically elongated adaptation of that of the external exteriors of the east and west gates. Both its countenances have a simple pishtaq, flanked by connected shafts ending in guldastas. Due to the general slant of the site, it stands 7 feet 10 inches over the level of the Jilaukhana and comes up to a short flight of stairs. Outside, a further short stairway paves the way to the bazaar and caravanserai complex, the Taj Ganj, which lies at a level that is three-feet and three-inches higher.
The Jilaukhana complex is overwhelmed by the considerable passage gate set in the focal point of the southern wall of the funerary patio nursery. Lahauri calls it the Darwaza-i Rauza, ‘gate of the catacomb’, a commendable counterpart to the tomb. The monumental structure sets a formal complement and intercede the shift between the area of the Jilaukhana and the funerary patio nursery. It prepares the guest for the loftiness of the tomb that anticipates within. The considerable gate is preceded by platforms cleared with geometrical examples gone on the south and north fronts.
The south front of the colossal gate confronts the Jilaukhana as an astonishing prologue to the royal engineering of the area of the tomb. It is a monumental rendition of a Moghul elevation formula that also shows up in the tomb – that of a vast pishtaq flanked by two levels of specialties.
The triadic plan had been declared inside the Jilaukhana region in a more unassuming structure on the internal appearances of the east and west gates. The outline has its roots in the Sultanate design of Delhi, starting with the Ala’i Darwaza of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. It infers Roman triumphal curves; however, no undeniable association can be determined.
ANCILLARY EDIFICES AND FRONTIER WALLS
The Taj Mahal complex is limited on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls, with the river confronting side left open. The greenery enclosure confronting the inward sides of the wall are fronted by lined arcades, a component regular of Hindu temple sanctuaries, which was later fused into Moghul mosques. The wall is blended with domed chhatris (umbrellas), and small structures that may have been survey regions or watch towers.
Outside the walls are a few extra mausolea. These structures, made fundamentally out of red sandstone, are run of the mill of the smaller Moghul tombs of that time. The external eastern tomb has a related mosque called the Black Mosque or Kali Masjid, or the Sandalwood Mosque or Sandli Masjid’. The configuration is firmly identified with the internal backup tombs found in the Jilhaukhana – small, landlocked variants of the riverfront patio with a greenery enclosure isolating the mosque from the tomb. The individual buried here is unknown; however, was likely a female from the Imperial family of Emperor ShahJahan.