Taj Mahal completed 1643

The Taj Mahal was the only Mughal mausoleum that was built by a ruler for his own purposes during his own lifetime. This may serve as one of the reasons that the sheer scale, delicacy of material usage, and overall harmonic aesthetics are more prevalent in this structure than any other Mughal mausoleum.

Built to honor his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan built not only one, but two major mausoleums during his lifetime, one for his wife and another for his father Jahangir. It was under the rule of Shah Jahan, that it is said that Mughal architecture entered its classical phase.

The intentional use of design principles in sacred buildings demonstrates the desire to express the complex relationship between the human and the divine through architecture. Evidence of careful composition and study of these principles is seen during Mughal rule in India, through the progressive understanding of construction of predecessors to the Taj Mahal. Constructed successively, these structures became the paradigm by which all other successors were judged. As building type, the Taj Mahal primarily served the function of veneration, and secondarily, exhibits governing authority. Identification and analysis of the principles used to compose paradigmatic structures help describe the devices with which to continue the discourse of sacred architecture, so that designers are equipped with the necessary understanding and tools to compose equally commendable, contemporary centers for veneration.

The overall site plan of the Taj Mahal is more complex than any of its precedents. To elucidate why Taj became the most refined building in the history of tomb designs in India, the various components used to create tombs are examined and their alteration to perfection studied. The components include:

  1. The use of charbagh (the garden that reflects paradise)
  2. The complex use of the Nine-fold, Hasht-Bihisht plan
  3. Hierarchy of materials used
  4. The careful planning of building approach at Taj
  5. Proportion and geometry
  6. The use of perfect proportions