The story goes…
Shah Jahan was the son of the fourth Mughal emperor of India and was one day walking through the bazaar when he caught a glimpse of a lovely Muslim Persian Princess. At the time, Shah Jahan was only 14 years old but was so certain of his love for this girl (or he was just a spoilt prince who liked pretty things) that he declared to his father the emperor that he wanted to marry her. At the time the princess was 15 years old and was known as Arjumand Banu Begum. In the year 1612, five years after the fateful stroll through the market the pair were married.
In 1628, Shah Jahan became emperor and bestowed on his beloved the title of Mumtaz Mahal, ‘Jewel of the Palace’. Although Shah Jahan had other wives, Mumtaz Mahal was his favourite and the pair were hardly ever parted, with her even accompanying him on military campaigns. She was a good emperors wife, providing him with fourteen children. Sadly their story was ill-fated and during the birth of their fourteenth child, Mumtaz Mahal died due to some complications.
Shah Jahan was devastated but had promised her as she was in her last moments that he would never marry again and would build her the richest mausoleum over her grave.
This he most definitely did, creating one of the wonders of the world, the icon of India- the Taj Mahal.
The story definitely adds to the wonder of this white marbled structure. But it is in the details that the Taj Mahal really shines. Just as we place flowers on a grave, Shah Jahan has covered his beloved’s final bed with everlasting flowers.
The flowers carved out of marble were clearly created by master craftsmen (like the rest of the mausoleum). In their pale marble sheen, they hold a sadness as despite their appearance of living there exists, a lack of life. Like the feeling of someone who has just lost their loved one.
Soon after the Taj Mahal was completed, Shah Jahan was displaced as emperor by one of his sons and imprisoned. After his death he was placed next to Mumtaz Mahal in a chamber underneath the main structure of the Taj Mahal. This chamber is blocked to the public, but the central chamber within the main structure has two fake tombs. In this chamber there is a strange hum as the walls echo those of the living visiting the dead. The carved and stone inlay flowers within the tomb area, seemed to be even more intricate with a surreal beauty.