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Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Black TajMahal  
It's Reality 
The Story of a Second Taj 






Taj Mahal is a monument built for the symbol of true love. Taj Mahal was hailed as a ‘Epitome of Love and Beauty’; the great monument was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, after the death of his dearest wife Mumtaz Mahal, as a memorial. Shah Jahan cannot expose his love more than building Taj Mahal for Mumtaz. There is a myth in the history of Taj Mahal

Shah Jahan decided to build another monument in black marbles exactly identical to the Taj Mahal. This was to act as his burial place, as his own mausoleum. He decided to construct it opposite to the bank of the River Yamuna and connect the two monuments by a beautiful decorated bridge. Shah Jahan began to build the tomb but the war with Aurangzeb (his son) interrupted his plan. Aurangzeb was not too keen on completing it afterwards. Shah Jahan spent the remaining eight years of his life under imprisonment looking at the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan used to see the Taj Mahal from his balcony. Ultimately, he was buried beside his wife Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal. Black Taj Mahal- The other half of the wonder became only as a dream of Shah Jahan.




According to the Black Taj myth, Shah Jahan had planned to build mirror image of the Taj Mahal he built for Mumtaz, albeit in black, on the other side of the river and connect the two by a bridge. This Black Taj was to be dedicated to Shah Jahan himself. A European traveler by the name of Jean Baptiste Tavernier who visited Agra in 1665 first mentioned the idea of Black Taj in his fanciful writings. And considering Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry, the idea certainly seems plausible. More credibility to the story is added by an observation made by archeologists in 2006, when they reconstructed part of the pool in the moonlit garden and it reflected a dark reflection of the white mausoleum. The writings of Tavernier mention that Shah Jahan began to build his own tomb on the other side of the river but could not complete it as he was deposed by his own son Aurangzeb.
Fuel to the fire is further added as some scholar suggests that the blackened marbles in Mehtab Bagh that lie on the other side of the river are actually grim remains and foundations of an abandoned plan. On the other hand, other section of scholars totally dismiss the theory of Black Taj as it was discovered that the black marble remains in the Mehtab Bagh are not natural black but have become black over the course of time due to staining and wear and tear. Also, Mehtab Bagh was built by the first Mughal Emperor Babur, years before construction of Taj Mahal even started. The theory is once again dismissed by some scholars who believe that if Shah Jahan wanted to build a Black Taj Mahal, he would have started working on it immediately after completion of the first Taj Mahal in 1653, after which he had 5 years before he got arrested. While historians continue to argue over it, the idea of a Black Taj standing in front of the White Taj certainly keeps the anticipations and imaginations on a high.
According to the Black Taj myth, Shah Jahan had planned to build mirror image of the Taj Mahal he built for Mumtaz, albeit in black, on the other side of the river and connect the two by a bridge. This Black Taj was to be dedicated to Shah Jahan himself. A European traveler by the name of Jean Baptiste Tavernier who visited Agra in 1665 first mentioned the idea of Black Taj in his fanciful writings. And considering Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry, the idea certainly seems plausible. More credibility to the story is added by an observation made by archeologists in 2006, when they reconstructed part of the pool in the moonlit garden and it reflected a dark reflection of the white mausoleum. The writings of Tavernier mention that Shah Jahan began to build his own tomb on the other side of the river but could not complete it as he was deposed by his own son Aurangzeb.
Fuel to the fire is further added as some scholar suggests that the blackened marbles in Mehtab Bagh that lie on the other side of the river are actually grim remains and foundations of an abandoned plan. On the other hand, other section of scholars totally dismiss the theory of Black Taj as it was discovered that the black marble remains in the Mehtab Bagh are not natural black but have become black over the course of time due to staining and wear and tear. Also, Mehtab Bagh was built by the first Mughal Emperor Babur, years before construction of Taj Mahal even started. The theory is once again dismissed by some scholars who believe that if Shah Jahan wanted to build a Black Taj Mahal, he would have started working on it immediately after completion of the first Taj Mahal in 1653, after which he had 5 years before he got arrested. While historians continue to argue over it, the idea of a Black Taj standing in front of the White Taj certainly keeps the anticipations and imaginations on a high.
Fuel to the fire is further added as some scholar suggests that the blackened marbles in Mehtab Bagh that lie on the other side of the river are actually grim remains and foundations of an abandoned plan. On the other hand, other section of scholars totally dismiss the theory of Black Taj as it was discovered that the black marble remains in the Mehtab Bagh are not natural black but have become black over the course of time due to staining and wear and tear. Also, Mehtab Bagh was built by the first Mughal Emperor Babur, years before construction of Taj Mahal even started. The theory is once again dismissed by some scholars who believe that if Shah Jahan wanted to build a Black Taj Mahal, he would have started working on it immediately after completion of the first Taj Mahal in 1653, after which he had 5 years before he got arrested. While historians continue to argue over it, the idea of a Black Taj standing in front of the White Taj certainly keeps the anticipations and imaginations on a high.
It was the weirdest of idea of that time, an idea that is not known by many people. This idea as we may assume had a lot of potential but before this potential materialized, Emperor Shahjahan was captured by his son Emperor Aurangjeb and put into prison. Had this idea being materialized, this Tajmahal and its copy would no doubt be the most historical monument of all times.



Tajmahal complex Layout
Many scholars, however, believe that this is a myth and has no relation to truth. The traces, which are identified as the foundations of the second Taj, are actually the enclosing wall of a garden founded by Babur. The irregular position of Shah Jahan's cenotaph in comparison to Mumtaz Mahal's, is similar to that at the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, and thus should not be of any striking significance. Besides, according to Islamic law, bodies are buried with their faces towards Mecca and legs towards the south, and the husband is placed on the right hand side of his wife. The interpretation that the cenotaph of Shah Jahan was not meant to be placed here appears to be superfluous Many scholars, however, believe that this is a myth and has no relation to truth. The traces, which are identified as the foundations of the second Taj, are actually the enclosing wall of a garden founded by Babur. The irregular position of Shah Jahan's cenotaph in comparison to Mumtaz Mahal's, is similar to that at the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, and thus should not be of any striking significance. Besides, according to Islamic law, bodies are buried with their faces towards Mecca and legs towards the south, and the husband is placed on the right hand side of his wife. The interpretation that the cenotaph of Shah Jahan was not meant to be placed here appears to be superfluous




The Taj Mahal of Agra is one fine example of how to plan and then successfully apply symmetry into the proceedings. Every inch of Taj Mahal is a breathing example of it, except for one thing: the cenotaph of Shah Jahan himself, which appears to be an afterthought as it was added much later and disassembles the symmetry of the burial chamber as it is bigger in size when compared to the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal. Ever wondered why is this the only dissymmetrical thing in the entire Taj complex? Some scholars believe that Shah Jahan had never meant for himself to be buried along with his wife but was planning something big. Something that if was seen in actuality, would have been literally beyond the scope of words, and would have put other monuments to shame. Scholars believe this "something big" to be another Taj Mahal, but built in black marble instead of white.

Many people believe that corresponding to this sparkling white Taj, Shah Jehan had planned to build another Taj Mahal in black marble, which was to be his own tomb on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna and connect the two by a bridge. This legend further got wings in form of the records of a contemporary traveler who noted that Shah Jehan began to build his own tomb on the other side of the river but because of the war with his sons, his plan was interrupted. Later, Aurangzeb was unwilling to complete it. These people also cite irregular positioning of the cenotaph of Shah Jehan as compared to the central positioning of that of Mumtaz Mahal as a proof to their theory. They further attach the Mehtab Burj opposite the Taj Mahal and its adjoining wall as actually the foundations and remnants of the abandoned plan

Later the historical guidebooks and gazetteers mention this story almost invariably. The irregular position of the cenotaph of Shahjahan as compared to that of Mumtaz Mahal, which occupies the exact centre of the hall, is said to be proof of this assumption. The Mehtab Burj and the wall adjoining it opposite the Taj Mahal are generally said to be the foundations and remains of the proposed plan.



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