Most of us are made to believe that the monument of love- Taj Mahal at Agra was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. But contrary to the general belief amongst people from around the world, the Taj Mahal was not built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan! Read on to find more.
Shah Jahan’s own admission in his autobiography
Shah Jahan himself mentions in his autobiography, the Badshahnama, that ‘a grand palace having a dome at the top’ was acquired for Mumtaz Mahal’s burial. The mansion was acquired from Raja Jai Singh, who the Maharaja (king) of Jaipur and the monument was the known as the Maharaja Man Singh’s Palace.
Farmans sent to Maharaja Jai Singh
Shah Jahan sent Farmans (royal orders) to Maharaja Jai Singh which ordered him to supply marbles and stone cutters which were needed to inscribe Quoranic verses on the walls of Taj Mahal; making it look as though it was an Islamic monument, which actually it wasn’t. The timing of the Farmans sent to Maharaja Jai Singh was sent within two years of Mumtaz’s death. Had Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal from scratch, he would have needed marbles and stone cutters after 18-20 years after the construction was started and not immediately after his wife’s death.
Peter Mundy’s account
Peter Mundy was an English traveler who visited Agra during the reign of Shah Jahan. His collections of 1632, just a year after Mumtaz Mahal’s death, mentions how noteworthy places in and around the city of Agra included the tomb of Taj Mahal, its gardens and bazaars. Another important observation made by Peter Mundy proves that Shah Jahan did not get the Taj Mahal built. Peter Mundy’s travel records point out that Mumtaz Mahal’s grave was surrounded by a gold railing with gems studded in it. However, the interesting thing to note here is that such luxury and costly fixtures are installed in a building or monument once the building’s construction work is over and is ready for use; which was not feasible to do so in year!
Aurangzeb’s letter to Shah Jahan
Aurangzeb, who was one of the four sons of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, wrote a series of letters upon his return from the eastern part of the empire. He, however, also adds that the roofs were so old that it was leaking which made water drip on the tomb of Mumtaz constantly. He also mentions that the dome has developed a crack on the northern side which should be repaired at once to prevent any more damage to the building.
However, the interesting thing to note here is that this series of letters written by Aurangzeb is dated 1652- a year even before the construction of Taj Mahal is said and believed to be completed. How can a newly monument turn “too old to start leaking” even before its construction work was yet to finish?
Trident pinnacle at the top of dome
If one looks at the close-up of the upper portion of the pinnacle, it is a horizontal crescent with a coconut top- a Hindu architectural form. Islamic crescents, however, are always oblique and with an almost-finished circle with a small space for stars. The one atop Taj Mahal’s dome is a semi-circle which can be noticed in multiple Hindu temples, especially in the Shiva temples.
Gardens present in the Taj Mahal
The existence of ‘Bel’ and other fruit trees in the garden located around the Taj Mahal again arouse suspicion. ‘Bel’ leaves are used while worshipping Lord Shiva, while other fruits and leaves are also used for the same. There is no logic behind fruit trees in the garden around a mausoleum as there is no need for one! A graveyard only has shady trees which provide shade to the grave. Using the fruits and leaves from a garden located in a graveyard is impossible to think of.
At the time of Shah Jahan’s reign, there was an extensive collection of court records where all revenues, expenditures and other details where jotted down in detail. This is the major reason why historians guess the amount incurred in constructing the Taj Mahal, because it’s nowhere in the record books!
This makes historians to make wild guesses of the cost incurred on Taj from 4 million to 100 million! The fact of the matter is that such a high amount of expenditure cannot escape the record books where even the salary of an army soldier is mentioned!
No record regarding the death of Mumtaz Mahal
Another thing to notice about the court records is that there’s no mention of the exact date of Mumtaz Mahal’s death- an astonishing fact given that Shah Jahan is believed to have loved her so much that he constructed the Taj Mahal in her memory. This points to another major fact that in a harem where Mumtaz Mahal was the not the only queen, her death was an insignificant event to be recorded in the court records. There were nearly 500 women in Shah Jahan’s harem, out of which Mumtaz Mahal was just one of them!
No record related to Mumtaz Mahal’s burial, either!
Given that how much Shah Jahan loved and adored his wife Mumtaz Mahal, as is the popular belief, there should be a record of when she was buried after her death. Much to your disbelief- there’s no record of when she died, neither regarding the date on which she was buried in Taj Mahal!
This is the most astonishing and accurate fact which points out that Shah Jahan did not build the Taj Mahal- it was right there for centuries!
Even if work on Taj Mahal started just after Mumtaz Mahal’s death, it would have taken at least 18-20 years before her body could be buried inside the mausoleum. She couldn’t have been buried before that as it amounts to disturbing the soul of the dead person as a soul cannot rest in peace where there is constant noise and construction going on.
On the other hand, if she was buried somewhere else for these 20 years when the construction of Taj Mahal was on, doesn’t it amount to disrespect shown to her soul while her grave was dug out and re-buried in the Taj Mahal after 20 long years?
However, regardless of who built the Taj Mahal or there was a love story involved; people continue to adore this beautiful monument which reigns over the heart of millions. People epitomize it as a monument of love and maybe that is more important for this world right now rather than knowing who really built the Taj Mahal.
By the way, History has its own set of charms in store for us, isn’t it so?
An arts student at Allahabad University,he is an avid writer and also takes a keen interest in reading; his favorite genre being science fiction.
He plays cricket, football and basketball; his fidelity lying with cricket. He remains sanguine irrespective of the circumstances around him.