Power. Dedication. Love. These were the driving forces behind the construction of the Taj Mahal, the majestic 17th-century mausoleum built by the Shah Jahan to entomb his late Empress Consort, Mumtaz Mahal. With the wealth and resources of all of the Mughal Empire – an empire spanning the Indian subcontinent and encompassing the modern-day territories of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh – Shah Jahan was free to undertake an architectural project that would span over 20 years of construction and 20,000 workers to give the world one of its greatest architectural masterpieces.
We are so familiar with the opulent photos of the mausoleum and the famous love story of a man and his wife that even the Taj Mahal can become commonplace in our thoughts. Yet there is more to the Taj Mahal than a handful of wispy or romantic legends. Much more.
How was the Taj Mahal built before cranes and trains? Who transported the huge, carved bricks of marble – and how? How many men sweat under the steaming sun over the 22 years of construction to erect such beauty? Where did the materials come from, and in what volume?
The Taj Mahal is more than just a love story, and it is more than an architectural achievement. The Taj Mahal is an embodiment of an era and symbolic of the rich variance of 17th century Indian life. This is why understanding how it was planned and executed gains more importance than ever before.
Because we know the why.
But not the how.