Just as their earthly life was lived together, so too was their journey into the world of spirit embarked resting, side by side. Emperor Shah Jahan's cenotaph has a lovely inkwell adorning it. The idea behind its appearance is that in Islam it is believed that the husband could write his desires on a slate which his wife would fulfill in the life beyond. Therefore, Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph has a slate gracing the top. Rather remarkably, Shah Jahan's cenotaph does not have verses from the Quran inscribed.
The sepulchres lie below in an airless crypt. They were once more heavily ornamented, sculpted and bejewelled than the cenotaph. However, some sections of the original ornamentation on the sepulchres were plundered. They have been artfully replaced by the regular quality material but the craftsmanship, in the discerning eyes of an expert, barely matches the original.
A maze of corridors and many basement chambers are present below. The entrances to the subterranean rooms are through two staircases on the northern side of the red sandstone plinth.
The temporary grave where Mumtaz Mahal was buried can be seen even today, a few meters to the southwest of the Taj Mahal. It rests solemnly near the western boundary wall where the well of the mosque is located. 'Badshahnama', the court journal of Shah Jahan, also records the burial of Mumtaz.
The mosque stands like a friendly pilgrim getting ready for a journey. Four octagonal towers and three elegant domes magnify its stately elegance. The sacred walls enclose 539 sparkling, velvet red, prayer carpet spaces in sandstone neatly outlined with black marble.
One stands magnetized by the ceiling's hypnotic design. The walls beam out a chain of inscriptions from the Holy Quran that needs no language to be intuitively understood by the collective consciousness.
This great Mughal emperor celebrated his love for his Queen Mumtaz Mahal by building the world's most beautiful monument of love. The Taj Mahal stands loftily as a surreal abode of love. Inspiring millions of visitors, the world over, feel the awesome energy of purity and perfection.
If a trick could be a feast, then the calligraphic verses would sure make a sumptuous celebration. Optical illusion is at its very best in Taj Mahal. The marvellous play with letters can only be experienced by standing in front of the inscriptions and moving forwards and backwards. Amazingly, the letters that loom so large above are all of uniform size. It is only the density that has made all the difference. At the bottom, the letters have been inscribed more densely. The gracefully curving lines of the Arabic script blend enchanting word pictures and holy names beautifully, within the marble blocks to form an exquisite tapestry of divine emotions.
A full fourteen chapters of the Holy Quran are inscribed on the walls. Semi-octagonal plasters rising from the plinth of the tomb along with a chevron pattern inlaid with black and yellow marble horizontally give a fantastic fluted effect.
What really matters at the end of the day is that there still remains on the face of the earth this remarkably, beautiful, monument created by human hands to celebrate an emotion; an offering to the divine or perhaps a sacred reminder to preserve forever the power of a divine emotion, Love.
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