Facts about the Taj Mahal
1. The Taj Mahal was built by a whopping 22,000 laborers, painters, stonecutters, embroidery artists.
2. Legend has it that Emperor Shah Jahan intended to build another Taj Mahal in black marble across the river but a war with his sons interrupted these plans.
3. The changing moods of the Emperor’s wife are well captured by the changing hues of the Mausoleum at different times of the day. It takes a pinkish hue in the morning, milky white in the evening, and golden at night when illuminated by moonlight.
4. Its intricate work of art and architectural genius took 17 years to complete.
5. The most recognizable feature is the white dome at the peak of the mausoleum. Often called the ‘onion dome’, it rises to about 35 meters (115 feet) and is surrounded by four other domes.
6. Taj Mahal is a famous Indian landmark and tourist magnet, attracting more than a million tourists every year.
7. As always, rumor mills are on the overdrive about this mausoleum. It is rumored that the Emperor ordered that all the workers who worked on the mausoleum get their hands chopped of so that no one could make anything like it ever again.
8. If it was to be built today, the Taj Mahal would cost the Emperor about US$100 to make it as beautiful as it is.
9. The materials that were used to build Taj Mahal were transported to the construction site by a whopping 1,000 elephants.
10. Many of the precious stones on the mausoleum were ripped off from the walls of the mausoleum by the British army during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
11. It was built to honor the favorite wife of Shah Jahan
12. The Taj Mahal is one of the new seven wonders of the world
13. It has Islamic calligraphy inscriptions all over
14. Cars and buses must stay at least 500 meters away from Taj Mahal
15. The architecture of Taj Mahal is a combination of Islamic, Persian and Indian style
Taj Mahal Trivia Quiz Questions With Answers
Q. What is the Taj Mahal?
A: The Taj Mahal meaning “Crown of the Palace” is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra.
In what year was it was commissioned?
A: In 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan.
Who was it built for?
A: It was built for the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes what?
A: 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 what year?
A: 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 what?
A: At the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million).
The construction project employed how many 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 what?
A: The jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.
It is regarded by many as the best example of what?
A: Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history .
The Taj Mahal attracts how many visitors a year?
A: 7–8 million.
In 2007, it was declared a winner of the what?
A: New 7 Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.
How did Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz die?
A: Giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum.
The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of what kind of architecture?
A: Persian and earlier Mughal architecture.
While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of what?
A: White marble inlaid with semi-precious stones.
What is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal?
A: The tomb.
It is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of what?
A: A symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial.
Buildings under his patronage reached what?
A: New levels of refinement.
Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are of what origin?
The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal eight-sided structure that is approximately how long on each of the four long sides?
A: 55 meters (180 ft).
Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each what?
A: Corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners.
The main chamber houses the what?
A: The false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.
What is the most spectacular feature?
A: The marble dome that surmounts the tomb.
How high is the dome?
A: It is nearly 35 meters (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 meters (23 ft) high.
Because of its shape, the dome is often called what?
A: An onion dome.
The top is decorated with what?
A: A lotus design which also serves to accentuate its height.
The shape of the dome is emphasized by four smaller domed kiosks placed at its corners, which replicate what?
A: The onion shape of the main dome.
Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb and provide what to the interior?
Tall decorative spires extend from edges of base walls, and provide visual emphasis to what?
A: The height of the dome.
The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial which mixes what traditional decorative elements?
A: Persian and Hindustani.
The main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by a copy made of what?
A: Gilded bronze in the early 19th century.
This feature provides a clear example of integration of what?
A: Traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements.
The finial is topped by a what?
A: A moon, a typical Islamic motif whose horns point heavenward.
How tall are the minarets?
A: More than 40 meters (130 ft) tall.
They were designed as what?
A: Working minarets, a traditional element of mosques, used by the muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer.
Each minaret is effectively divided into how many equal parts by balconies that ring the tower?
Q. The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in what?
A: Mughal architecture.
As the surface area changes, the decorations are what?
A: Refined proportionally.
Q. How were the decorative elements created?
A: By applying paint, stucco, stone inlays or carvings.
Q. In line with the Islamic prohibition against the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into what?
A: Either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs.
Q. Throughout the complex are passages from the Qur’an that comprise what?
A: Some of the decorative elements.
Recent scholarship suggests that the passages were chosen by whom?
A: Amanat Khan.
Q. The calligraphy on the Great Gate reads what?
A: O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.
The calligraphy was created in 1609 by a calligrapher named what?
A: Abdul Haq.
Shah Jahan conferred the title of “Amanat Khan” upon him as a reward for his what?
A: His dazzling virtuosity.
Q. Near the lines from the Qur’an at the base of the interior dome is what inscription?
A: Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi.
Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth script made of what?
A: Jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels.
Higher panels are written in slightly larger script to reduce what?
A: The skewing effect when viewed from below.
Q. The calligraphy found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is particularly what?
A: Detailed and delicate.
Q. Abstract forms are used throughout, especially in the what?
A: Plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab and, to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb.
The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create what?
A: Elaborate geometric forms.
Q. Herringbone inlays define what?
A: The space between many of the adjoining elements.
Q. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings, and dark or black inlays on what?
A: The white marbles.
Q. Mortared areas of the marble buildings have been stained or painted in a contrasting color which creates what?
A: A complex array of geometric patterns.
Q. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in what patterns?
A: Tessellation patterns.
On the lower walls of the tomb are white marble dados sculpted with what?
A: Realistic bas relief depictions of flowers and vines.
The marble has been polished to emphasize what?
A: The exquisite detailing of the carvings.
The dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with what?
A: Pietra dura inlays of highly stylized, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits .
The inlay stones are of what?
A: Yellow marble, jasper and jade, polished and leveled to the surface of the walls.
The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal reaches far beyond what?
A: Traditional decorative elements.
Q. The inlay work is not pietra dura, but what?
A: A lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones.
The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from where?
A: From each face, although only the door facing the garden to the south is used.
Q. How high are the interior walls?
A: They are about 25 metres (82 ft) high and are topped by a “false” interior dome decorated with a sun motif.
Q. The four central upper arches form what?
A: Balconies or viewing areas.
Each balcony’s exterior window has a what?
A: An intricate screen or jali cut from marble.
In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through what?
A: Roof openings covered by chattris at the corners.
The octagonal marble screen or jali bordering the cenotaphs is made from what?
A: Eight marble panels carved through with intricate pierce work.
Q. The remaining surfaces are inlaid in delicate detail with what?
A: Semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.
Q. Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of what?
The bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan were put in what?
A: A relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with their faces turned right, towards Mecca.
Q. Mumtaz Mahal’s base and casket are elaborately inlaid with what?
A: Precious and semiprecious gems.
Q. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket do what?
A: Identify and praise Mumtaz