Facts About Taj Mahal

"They drew up the plan for a magnificent building and a high-built dome which for its loftiness will until the Day of Resurrection remain a memorial to the sky-reaching ambition of His Majesty..." (Abdul Hamid Lahori, Padshahnama)

Built in white marble, the Mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, famously known as the Taj Mahal, is situated on the banks of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. This architectural marvel is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Drawing in approximately 7 to 8 million visitors annually, the Taj Mahal stands as a symbol of eternal love and beauty.

Mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan (r: 1628-1658), the fifth ruler of the Mughal dynasty, was the son of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Jodh Bai, the daughter of Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur.

During Shah Jahan's reign, Mughal architecture flourished, ushering in a golden era of prosperity. Some of the most remarkable structures from this period include the Red Fort (Lal Qila) in Delhi, the Peacock Throne, the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Pearl Mosque (Moti Masjid) in Agra Fort, and the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra.

The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal. 

Shah Jahan's Wives:

In 1607, at the age of 15, Prince Khurram, later known as Emperor Shah Jahan, was betrothed by his father Jahangir to Arjumand Banu Begum, who is more famously known as Mumtaz Mahal. However, his first wife was Kandahari Begum, the daughter of Muzaffar Husain Mirza, whom he married in 1610. He married Mumtaz Mahal in 1612. His third wife was the daughter of Shahnawaz Khan, the son of Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khan, in 1617.

Historians have observed that Shah Jahan's deepest affection was reserved for Mumtaz Mahal, to the point where he did not feel even a fraction of the love he had for her towards his other wives. "Even though the fortunate daughter of Muzaffar Husain Mirza Safavi and the honorable daughter of Shahnawaz Khan, also, had been exalted by the good fortune of marriage with His Majesty, they enjoyed nothing more than the title of wife. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which His Majesty had for the Lady, he did not have for any other. The Lady of the Age was always his intimate companion, colleague, and close confidante in distress and comfort, joy and grief, on journeys, or in residence.

The friendship and harmony between them had reached such an extent that has never been seen between a husband and wife among sovereigns or the rest of the people," notes Qazwini.

Mumtaz Mahal was the niece of Shah Jahan's step-mother Nur Jahan. Abdul Hamid Lahori, the author of Padshahnama, referred to her as Nawab Aliya Begum, while European Travelers such as Peter Mundy, Thevenot, Manucci and Bernier mistakenly believed that Taj Mahal was the name of the Queen. They referred to the magnificent mausoleum built by Shah Jahan in her memory as the "mausoleum of Taj Mahal," which later became shortened to simply "Taj Mahal." Ain-i-Akbari also mentions another name for Mumtaz, Taj Bibi. Like her aunt Nur Jahan, Mumtaz was actively involved in government affairs and held the royal seal.

Fourteen Children of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal:

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal were blessed with 14 children, eight sons and six daughters. Only seven of their children were still alive at the time of Mumtaz Mahal's passing.

Their 14 children were as follows: Hur un-nisa Begum (1613-1616), Jahan-Ara Begum (1614-1681), Dara Shikoh (1615-1659), Shah Shuja (1616-1660), Roshan-Ara Begum (1617-1671), Aurangzeb (1618-1707), Izad Bakhsh (1619-1621), Surayya Banu Begum (1621-.1628), a son (b. 1622 d. within few days), Murad Bakhsh (1624-1661), Lutf-Ullah (1626 -1628), Daulat Afza (1628-1629), Husnara Begum (b. & d. 1630) and Gauhar-Ara Begum (1631-1706).

Mumtaz Mahal's Death:

Mumtaz Mahal tragically passed away shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child, Gauhar Ara Begum, on June 17, 1631, in Burhanpur, the Mughal headquarters in the Deccan region. She had accompanied her husband on a campaign against Khan Jahan Lodi at the time. Mumtaz was only thirty-nine years old at the time of her death.

Here is the description of her last moments: After the delivery, the health of that Lady of angelic nature began to decline. She then requested Jahan Ara to summon His Majesty, asking him to come as the time for her farewell and final wishes had arrived. His Majesty, with a grieved heart and sorrowful mind, arrived at the bedside of his lifelong companion. In her final moments, she opened her eyes for a look at the august form of the chosen one of the Creator, finding solace for the impending separation. She made sure to entrust her beloved children, respected mother, and other relatives to his care. As the night approached its final hours, she peacefully answered the call of Allah, who beckoned her towards the Abode of Peace.

At Mumtaz's death, Shah Jahan was so overpowered by grief that for a whole week he did not appear in public or transact any affairs of state, which was unheard of in the history of the Mughal emperors.

Mumtaz's personal properties, valued at over a crore of rupees, were divided with half going to her eldest daughter Jahan Ara and the remainder distributed among her other children. Jahan Ara was entrusted with all responsibilities that had belonged to Mumtaz Mahal.

May the Abode of Mumtaz Mahal Be Paradise!

Mumtaz's body was temporarily buried in the Ahukhana in the garden of Zainabad on the bank of the river Tapti in Burhanpur.

A spacious ground to the south of Agra city on the bank of the river Yamuna was selected as the final resting place for the Queen. The site where the mausoleum now stands was originally a mansion belonging to Raja Man Singh of Amer, who had received the land as a gift from Akbar. Raja Man Singh's grandson, Raja Jai Singh, the then owner, was willing to donate the land for the construction of the tomb. Historical records indicate that in exchange for the land, Raja Jai Singh was granted four prestigious crown properties in Agra.


After six months, Mumtaz's body was taken out from Zainabad and brought to Agra. In Agra, the body of Mumtaz was temporarily buried a second time. Initially, a small domed building was built in the Taj gardens, while the foundations of the magnificent mausoleum were being laid. The body was then placed in the underground chamber where it rests today.


Shah Jahan gathered a vast number of skilled architects, masons, stone carvers, and inlayers from all corners of his kingdom to work on the construction of the Taj Mahal. Ustad Ahmad Lahori is the principal architect of the Taj Mahal and Amanat Khan Shirazi, the Calligrapher.

The Taj Mahal was built using brick, red sandstone from Fatehpur Sikri, and white marble from Makrana in Rajasthan. Construction began in early 1632 and was completed in January 1643, under the supervision of Makramat Khan and Mir Abdul Karim. The entire project, which included other buildings within the Taj Complex, took approximately twenty-two years to finish.

To ensure the upkeep of the mausoleum, revenue from thirty villages in the Agra region, totaling one lakh rupees, was allocated. Additionally, income from shops and sarais near the tomb contributed another lakh of rupees.

Shah Jahan passed away on January 31, 1666, and now rests in eternal peace within the Taj Mahal alongside his wife.


Muhammad Shah (1719-1748) was the last Mughal emperor to sit on the Peacock Throne. The Peacock Throne along with other priceless things were taken away by Nadir Shah when he invaded India in 1739.

Shah Jahan had a daughter named Purhunar Bano Begum by Kandahari Begum and a son by the daughter of Shah Nawaz Kan who died in infancy.


Taj Mahal - The Illumined Tomb: Anthology of Seventeenth Century Mughal and European Documentary Sources By W.E. Begley & Z.A. Desai

The Complete Taj Mahal: And the Riverfront Gardens of Agra By Ebba Koch


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