The grief of Shah Jahan and the plan for Taj Mahal
The death of Mumtaz shocked the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who went into a period of mourning for even years after her death. The whole world of Shah Jahan shattered and he abstained from all entertainment and celebrations as an effect of the grief that gripped him.
Mumtaz Mahal was said to have obtained four promises from Shah Jahan at her deathbed. One of them was to build a memorial over her grave as a symbol of their love. Shah Jahan who was broke over her death, decided to turn his attention towards architecture, one of his favorite passions. He was known for his architectural interests and marvelous structures he had ordered to be built from when he was of the age 16. The grief that he was filled with and the promise he had made to Mumtaz mixed with architectural interests lead to the creation of a world beauty, Taj Mahal.
A site along the riverside of Yamuna was acquired from Raja Jai Singh in which construction for the Taj started in 1631. Legends say that four mansions within the city were given in exchange for the site to Raja Jai Singh. The site was chosen so as to signify the importance of the pleasantness of the lady who lies within. Though she was temporarily buried in Burhanpur, she was removed to Agra within about six months and buried in the site which had been acquired for building the Taj Mahal. It is said that when her body was brought to Agra, food and money was distributed to many on the way in a grand manner. As soon as her body was bought in, a small domed building was erected upon it which is now near the western garden of the riverfront terrace.
The plan and design of the Taj Mahal was created by many and Shah Jahan was said to have been very choosy in deciding the final one. Many wooden models were designed for the tomb structure and after huge deliberation the emperor finally approved on the final design.
Many designers and architects of Turkish, Persian and Indian origin were employed by Shah Jahan for the construction of the mausoleum. The work on the world wonder began in 1631 and the main structure was completed as early as 1648 though the internal designs and architecture took another five years for completion.
Thus it took an overall 22 years and the labor of 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants along with crores of money spent on gold, silver, precious metal and marbles for the complete construction of this world famous monument. But more than the money and the efforts, the base for the design and the construction of the Taj Mahal was the love of an emperor towards his wife and the grief that engulfed him on her death.
The local guides may just make a passing comment of these gates and moves on, as there are so much other attractions to be seen inside the fort. In fact the so called "Somnath" Gates now stored in a room in Agra Fort has a curious story to tell.
Taj, while unparalleled for its beauty and fanfare, overshadows this otherwise majestic and historically far more important attraction, located just a mile east of the Taj.