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Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal (/td mhl/, more often /t/;[4] meaning Crown of the Palace[5]) is an ivory-
white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was
commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 16281658), to house the
tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-
acre)[6] complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens
bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.
Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other
phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been
completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees,
which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The construction
project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the
court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of
Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as "the tear-drop on the cheek of time",[7][8] it is
regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich
history. The Taj Mahal attracts 78 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of
the New7Wonders of the World (20002007) initiative.
The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal
architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including
the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty,
in Samarkand),[12] Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj),
and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily
constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-
precious stones. Buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.[13]

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble
structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an
arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic
elements are Persian in origin.[14]
The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal
eight-sided structure that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. Each
side of the iwan is framed with a huge pishtaq or vaulted archway with two similarly shaped
arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the
chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building.
Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners.
The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual
graves are at a lower level.[15]
The most spectacular feature is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb. The dome is nearly
35 metres (115 ft) high which is close in measurement to the length of the base, and accentuated
by the cylindrical "drum" it sits on which is approximately 7 metres (23 ft) high. Because of its
shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome).[16] The top is decorated
with a lotus design which also serves to accentuate its height. The shape of the dome is
emphasised by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the
onion shape of the main dome. The dome is slightly asymmetrical.[17] Their columned bases open
through the roof of the tomb and provide light to the interior. Tall decorative spires (guldastas)
extend from edges of base walls, and provide visual emphasis to the height of the dome.
The lotus motif is repeated on both the chattris and guldastas. The dome and chattris are topped
by a gilded finialwhich mixes traditional Persian and Hindustani decorative elements.
Qutb Minar
Qutub Minar is a minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India.[1][2] Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is a 73-
metre (240 feet) tall tapering tower of five storeys, with a 14.3 metre (47 feet) base diameter,
reducing to 2.7 metres (9 feet) at the peak.[3] It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps.[4] Its
design is thought to have been based on the Minaret of Jam, in western Afghanistan.
Qutb Ud-Din-Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, started construction of the Qutub Minar's first
storey around 1192. In 1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Iltutmish completed a further
three storeys. In 1369, a lightning strike destroyed the top storey. Firoz Shah Tughlaq replaced
the damaged storey, and added one more.[5]
The Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments of the Qutb complex,
including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which was built at the same time as the Minar, and the much
older Iron Pillar of Delhi.[1] The nearby pillared Cupola known as "Smith's Folly" is a remnant of
the tower's 19th century restoration, which included an ill-advised attempt to add a sixth storey.
Qutb Minar was established along with Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque around 1192, by Qutb-ud-din
Aibak, first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.[6] The mosque complex is one of the earliest that survives
in the Indian subcontinent.[7][8] The minaret is named after Qutb-ud-din Aibak, or Qutbuddin
Bakhtiar Kaki, a Sufi saint.[9] Its ground storey was built over the ruins of the Lal Kot, the citadel
of Dhillika.[10] Aibak's successor Iltutmish added three more storeys.[9]
The minar's topmost storey was damaged by lightning in 1369 and was rebuilt by Firoz Shah
Tughlaq, who added another storey. In 1505, an earthquake damaged Qutb Minar; it was
repaired by Sikander Lodi. On 1 September 1803, a major earthquake caused serious damage.
Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army renovated the tower in 1828 and installed a pillared
cupola over the fifth story, thus creating a sixth. The cupola was taken down in 1848, under
instructions from The Viscount Hardinge, then Governor General of India. It was reinstalled at
ground level to the east of Qutab Minar, where it remains. It is known as "Smith's Folly".[11]
An inscription in Persian at the mosque's inner eastern gateway states that material used in its
construction was salvaged from the demolition of twenty-seven of Delhi's Hindu and Jain
temples.[12][13][14] Pillars from these demolished temples were used in the mosque, with their
iconography intact. The nearby Iron Pillar from the Gupta empire, which predates the Islamic
minar and still bears its Brahmic inscriptions, survived as part of the Qutb complex.[2]
The tower's style is basically Iranian, though likely patterned on Afghanistan's Minaret of Jam,
and adapted to local artistic conventions by the incorporation of "looped bells and garlands and
lotus borders into the carving".[15] Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in
different sections of the Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction, and the later
restorations and repairs by Firoz Shah Tughluq (135189) and Sikandar Lodi[16] (14891517).
The tower has five superposed, tapering storeys. The lowest three comprise
fluted cylindrical shafts or columns of pale red sandstone, separated by flanges and by
storeyed balconies, carried on Muqarnas corbels. The fourth column is of marble, and is
relatively plain. The fifth is of marble and sandstone. The flanges are a darker red sandstone
throughout, and are engraved with Quranic texts and decorative elements. The whole tower
contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps.[17] At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat ul
Islam Mosque. The minar tilts just over 65 cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within
safe limits, although experts have stated that monitoring is needed in case rainwater seepage
further weakens the foundation.[18]
Before 1974, the general public was allowed access to the top of the minar, via the internal
staircase. On 4 December 1981, the staircase lighting failed. Between 300 and 400 visitors
stampeded towards the exit, and 45 were killed in the crush and some were injured. Most of
these were children. Subsequently, public access to the inside of the tower has been
stopped.[citation needed]
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is an arch monument built during the 20th century in Bombay, India.[2] The
monument was erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Maryat Apollo
Bunder on their visit to India in 1911.
Built in Indo-Saracenic style, the foundation stone for the Gateway of India was laid on 31 March
1911. The structure is an arch made of basalt, 26 metres (85 feet) high. The final design
of George Wittet was sanctioned in 1914 and the construction of the monument was completed
in 1924. The Gateway was later used as a symbolic ceremonial entrance to India
for Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay.[3] It served to allow entry and access to India.[4]
The Gateway of India is located on the waterfront at Apollo Bunder area at the end
of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea.[5][6][7] The monument
has also been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai,[8] and is the city's top tourist attraction.[9]
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to
Mumbai, prior to the Delhi Durbar in December 1911. However, they only got to see a cardboard
model of the monument, since the construction did not begin till 1915.[citation needed] The foundation
stone was laid on March 31, 1913 by the governor of Bombay, Sir George Sydenham Clarke with
the final design of George Wittet sanctioned on March 31, 1914.
The land on which the Gateway was built on was previously a crude jetty, used by the fishing
community which was later renovated and used as a landing place for British governors and
other prominent people. In earlier times, it would have been the first structure that visitors arriving
by boat in Mumbai would have seen.[10][11]
Between 1915 and 1919, work proceeded at Apollo Bundar (Port) to reclaim the land on which
the gateway and the new sea wall would be built. The foundations were completed in 1920 and
construction was finished in 1924.[12] The gateway was opened on December 4, 1924 by
the Viceroy, the Earl of Reading.[10]
The last British troops to leave India following the country's independence, the First Battalion of
the Somerset Light Infantry, passed through the Gateway on their way out in a ceremony on
February 28, 1948, signalling the end of British rule.[10][13]
The Scottish architect George Wittet combined the elements of the Roman triumphal arch and
the 16th-century architecture of Gujarat.[14] The monument's design is a combination
of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. The arch is of Muslim style while the decorations are of
Hindu style.[15] The Gateway of India is built from yellow basalt and reinforced concrete.[16]The
stone was locally obtained, and the perforated screens were brought from Gwalior.[17] The
gateway faces out to Mumbai Harbour from the tip of Apollo Bunder.[18]
The central dome is 48 feet (15 metres) in diameter and 83 feet (25 metres) above the ground at
its highest point.[19] The whole harbour front was realigned in order to come in line with a
planned esplanade which would sweep down to the centre of the town. On each side of the arch,
there are large halls with the capacity to hold 600 people.[16] The cost of the construction was 2
million (US$31,000), borne mainly by the Imperial Government of India. Due to a paucity of
funds, the approach road was never built and so the gateway stands at an angle to the road
leading up to it.[10][19]
The Gateway of India is considered as a "symbolic monument" that represents the city of
Mumbai, India.
Located opposite the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel,[20] For the British arriving to India, the
gateway was a symbol of the "power and majesty" of the British empire.[5] Though built as a
welcome to King George V for his visit of 1911, then an event of grand significance for British
India and the British empire, today serves as a "monumental memento" of British colonial rule
over India.[4]

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