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The inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level and, as with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall.
In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings covered by chattris at the corners. The octagonal marble screen or jali bordering the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels carved through with intricate pierce work.
The remaining surfaces are inlaid in delicate detail with semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.
Each chamber wall is highly decorated with dado bas-relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels which reflect, in miniature detail, the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex.
Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves. Hence, the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan were put in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right, towards Mecca.
Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph is placed at the precise centre of the inner chamber on a rectangular marble base of 1. Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems.
Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet.
Shah Jahan's cenotaph is beside Mumtaz's to the western side, and is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex.
His cenotaph is bigger than his wife's, but reflects the same elements: On the lid of the casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box.
The pen box and writing tablet are traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating the caskets of men and women respectively. The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He travelled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab , in the year Hijri.
The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds. Halfway between the tomb and gateway in the centre of the garden is a raised marble water tank with a reflecting pool positioned on a north-south axis to reflect the image of the mausoleum.
The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad.
Elsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees labeled according to common and scientific names  and fountains.
The charbagh garden , a design inspired by Persian gardens , was introduced to India by Babur , the first Mughal emperor.
It symbolises the four flowing rivers of Jannah Paradise and reflects the Paradise garden derived from the Persian paridaeza , meaning 'walled garden'.
In mystic Islamic texts of the Mughal period, Paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers flowing from a central spring or mountain, separating the garden into north, west, south and east.
Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the centre. The Taj Mahal garden is unusual in that the main element, the tomb, is located at the end of the garden.
With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or "Moonlight Garden" on the other side of the Yamuna, the interpretation of the Archaeological Survey of India is that the Yamuna river itself was incorporated into the garden's design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.
By the end of the 19th century, the British Empire controlled more than three-fifths of India,  and assumed management of the Taj Mahal.
They changed the landscaping to their liking which more closely resembled the formal lawns of London. The Taj Mahal complex is bordered on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls; the side facing the river is open.
Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives , and a larger tomb for Mumtaz's favourite servant.
The main gateway darwaza is a monumental structure built primarily of marble, and reminiscent of the Mughal architecture of earlier emperors.
Its archways mirror the shape of the tomb's archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb.
The vaulted ceilings and walls have elaborate geometric designs like those found in the other sandstone buildings in the complex. At the far end of the complex are two grand red sandstone buildings that mirror each other, and face the sides of the tomb.
The backs of the buildings parallel the western and eastern walls. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab answer , thought to have been constructed for architectural balance although it may have been used as a guesthouse.
Distinctions between the two buildings include the jawab's lack of a mihrab a niche in a mosque's wall facing Mecca , and its floors of geometric design whereas the floor of the mosque is laid with outlines of prayer rugs in black marble.
The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas comprising a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side.
At the Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an expansive vaulting dome. The outlying buildings were completed in The Taj Mahal is built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra.
Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the centre of Agra in exchange for the land.
In the tomb area, wells were dug and filled with stone and rubble to form the footings of the tomb. Instead of lashed bamboo , workmen constructed a colossal brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb.
The scaffold was so enormous that foremen estimated it would take years to dismantle. The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia.
It is believed over 1, elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana , Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab , jade and crystal from China.
The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan , while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty-eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.
According to the legend, Shah Jahan decreed that anyone could keep the bricks taken from the scaffold, and thus it was dismantled by peasants overnight.
Water was drawn from the river by a series of purs , an animal-powered rope and bucket mechanism, into a large storage tank and raised to a large distribution tank.
It was passed into three subsidiary tanks, from which it was piped to the complex. The plinth and tomb took roughly 12 years to complete.
The remaining parts of the complex took an additional 10 years and were completed in order of minarets, mosque and jawab, and gateway. Since the complex was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on "completion".
Construction of the mausoleum itself was essentially completed by  while work continued on the outlying buildings continued for years.
Estimates of the cost of construction vary due to difficulties in estimating costs across time. The total cost at the time has been estimated to be about 32 million Indian rupees,  which is around Abdul Hamid Lahauri in his book Badshahnama refers to Taj Mahal as rauza -i munawwara , meaning the illumined or illustrious tomb.
Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife. Kanbo, a Mughal historian, said the gold shield which covered the 4.
By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen into disrepair. During the time of the Indian Rebellion of , the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiselled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls.
At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a sweeping restoration project, which was completed in During this time the garden was remodelled with British-style lawns that are still in place today.
In , the government erected a scaffolding to disguise the building in anticipation of air attacks by the Japanese Air Force.
More recent threats have come from environmental pollution on the banks of the Yamuna River including acid rain  due to the Mathura Oil Refinery ,  which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives.
Concerns for the tomb's structural integrity have recently been raised because of a decline in the groundwater level in the Yamuna river basin which is falling at a rate of around 1.
In , cracks appeared in parts of the tomb, and the minarets which surround the monument were showing signs of tilting, as the wooden foundation of the tomb may be rotting due to lack of water.
It has been pointed out by politicians, however, that the minarets are designed to tilt slightly outwards to prevent them from crashing on top of the tomb in the event of an earthquake.
In , it was reported that some predictions indicated that the tomb could collapse within 5 years. Small minarets located at two of the outlying buildings were reported as damaged by a storm on April 11, The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists.
UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors in ,  which had increased to about 7—8 million in Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February.
Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus.
The Khawasspuras northern courtyards are currently being restored for use as a new visitor centre. The small town to the south of the Taj, known as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, was originally constructed with caravanserais , bazaars and markets to serve the needs of visitors and workmen.
The grounds are open from The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after,  excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan.
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