January 11, 2012

inspired: taj mahal

We've all heard of the Taj Mahal. It's on my list of places to see before I die. Did you know it was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal? It is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-strickent when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words.

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.

Photo found via Pinterest.

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