In continuation of my earlier posts, lets us consider the Etymology of The Taj and Mahal.
Nowhere an Islamic Mausoleum the word Mahal is found anywhere in the World.
The name itself consists of two words, Mumtaz and Mahal.
The name of Mumtaz is not Mumtaz, it was a pet name , given by, one is not sure by whom.
That Shahjahan called her this way is not found in any reference.
Her Name.’Arjumand Banu Begum‘
Even if one were to assume her name has been given to the Taj Mahal, it should be The Taz Mahal and not Taj Mahal.
“Tavernier, a French jeweller has recorded in his travel memoirs that Shahjahan purposely buried Mumtaz near the Taz-i-Makan (i.e.,`The Taj building’) where foreigners used to come as they do even today so that the world may admire. He also adds that the cost of the scaffolding was more than that of the entire work. The work that Shahjahan commissioned in the Tejomahalaya Shiva temple was plundering at the costly fixtures inside it, uprooting the Shiva idols, planting the cenotaph in their place on two stories, inscribing the koran along the arches and walling up six of the seven stories of the Taj. It was this plunder, desecrating and plundering of the rooms which took 22 years.
Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra recorded in 1632 (within only a year of Mumtaz’s death) that `the places of note in and around Agra, included Taj-e-Mahal’s tomb, gardens and bazaars’.He, therefore, confirms that the Tajmahal had been a noteworthy building even before Shahjahan.
27. De Laet, a Dutch official has listed Mansingh’s palace about a mile from Agra fort, as an outstanding building of pre shahjahan’s time. Shahjahan’s court chronicle, the Badshahnama records, Mumtaz’s burial in the same Mansingh’s palace.
28. Bernier, a contemporary French visitor has noted that non muslim’s were barred entry into the basement (at the time when Shahjahan requisitioned Mansingh’s palace) which contained a dazzling light. Obviously, he refered to the silver doors, gold railing, the gem studded lattice and strings of pearl hanging over Shiva’s idol. Shahjahan commandeered the building to grab all the wealth, making Mumtaz’s death a , a convenient pretext.
Johan Albert Mandelslo, who describes life in agra in 1638 (only 7 years after mumtaz’s death) in detail (in his `Voyages and Travels to West-Indies’, published by John Starkey and John Basset, London), makes no mention of the Tajmahal being under construction though it is commonly , in error,,asserted or assumed that the Taj was being built from 1631 to 1653.
Next, The Emperors ,royalty including Humayun, Akbar, Mumtaz, Etmad-ud-Daula and Safdarjang have been buried in capture Hindu mansions and temples.
If the Taj is believed to be a burial place, how can the term Mahal, i.e., mansion apply to it?
The plaque put the archaeology department outside the Taj Mahal describes the edifice as a mausoleum built by Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal , over 22 years from 1631 to 1653. That plaque is a specimen of historical bungling. Firstly, the plaque sites no authority for its claim. Secondly the lady’s name was Mumtaz-ulZamani and not Mumtazmahal. Thirdly, the period of 22 years is taken from some mumbo jumbo noting by an unreliable French visitor Tavernier, to the exclusion of all muslim versions, which is an absurdity.
20. Prince Aurangzeb’s letter to his father,emperor Shahjahan,is recorded in atleast three chronicles titled `Aadaab-e-Alamgiri’, `Yadgarnama’, and the `Muruqqa-i-Akbarabadi’ (edited by Said Ahmed, Agra, 1931, page 43, footnote 2). In that letter Aurangzeb records in 1652 A.D itself that the several buildings in the fancied burial place of Mumtaz were seven storeyed and were so old that they were all leaking, while the dome had developed a crack on the northern side.Aurangzeb, therefore, ordered immediate repairs to the buildings at his own expense while recommending to the emperor that more elaborate repairs be carried out later. This is the proof that during Shahjahan’s reign itself that the Taj complex was so old as to need immediate repairs.
21. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur retains in his secret personal `KapadDwara’ collection two orders from Shahjahan dated Dec 18, 1633 (bearing modern nos. R.176 and 177) requistioning the Taj building complex. That was so blatant a usurpation that the then ruler of Jaipur was ashamed to make the document public.
22. The Rajasthan State archives at Bikaner preserve three other firmans addressed by Shahjahan to the Jaipur’s ruler Jaising ordering the latter to supply marble (for Mumtaz’s grave and koranic grafts) from his Makranna quarris, and stone cutters. Jaisingh was apparently so enraged at the blatant seizure of the Taj Mahal that he refused to oblige Shahjahan by providing marble for grafting koranic engravings and fake cenotaphs for further desecration of the Taj Mahal. Jaising looked at Shahjahan’s demand for marble and stone cutters, as an insult added to injury. Therefore, he refused to send any marble and instead detained the stone cutters in his protective custody.
The three firmans demanding marble were sent to Jaisingh within about two years of Mumtaz’s death. Had Shahjahan really built the Taj Mahal over a period of 22 years, the marble would have needed only after 15 or 20 years not immediately after Mumtaz’s death.
Moreover, the three mention neither the Taj Mahal, nor Mumtaz, nor the burial. The cost and the quantity of the stone also are not mentioned. This proves that an insignificant quantity of marble was needed just for some superficial tinkering and tampering with the Taj Mahal. Even otherwise Shahjahan could never hope to build a fabulous Taj Mahal by abject dependence for marble on a non cooperative Jaisingh.”
Shajahan himself was probably responsible for this twisting of historical truth. The truth would have shown him to be inconsistent and this could not be tolerated. For this reason also, the histories contain no statements of any kind that are critical of the Emperor or his policies, and even military defeats are rationalized so that no blame could be attached to him. … effusive praise of the Emperor is carried to such extremes that he seems more a divinity than a mortal man.” (p. xxvi)
With the court chroniclers’ histories carefully edited, and with the great scarcity of documents we are fortunate to have four surviving farmans or directives issued by Shahjahan to Raja Jai Singh of Amber-the very same local ruler from whom the Emperor acquired the Taj property. On the basis of these farmans, the court chroniclers and a visiting European traveler, we learn that: (i) Mumtaz died and was buried temporarily at Burhanpur on June 17, 1631; (ii) her body was exhumed and taken to Agra on December 11, 1631; (iii) she was reburied somewhere on the Taj grounds on January 8, 1632; and (iv) European traveler Peter Mundy witnessed Shahjahan’s return to Agra with his cavalcade on June 11, 1632.
The first farman was issued on September 20, 1632 in which the Emperor urges Raja Jai Singh to hasten the shipment of marble for the facing of the interior walls of the mausoleum, i.e., the Taj main building. Naturally a building had to be there to receive the finish. How much time was needed to put that basic building in place?
Every successful new building construction follows what we call in modern-day construction a “critical path”. There is a normal sequence of steps requiring a minimum time before other processes follow. Since Mumtaz died unexpectedly and relatively young (having survived thirteen previous child-births), we can assume that Shahjahan was unprepared for her sudden demise. He had to conceive, in the midst of his trauma, of a world class tomb dedicated to her, select an architect (whose identity is still debated), work out a design program with the architect, and have the architect prepare designs, engineer the structure and mechanical systems, detail the drawings, organize the contractors and thousands of workers, and prepare a complex construction schedule. Mysteriously, no documents relating to this elaborate procedure, other than the four farmans have survived.
We cannot assume that the Taj complex was built additively with the buildings and landscaping built as needed. It was designed as a unified whole. Begley and Desai make this clear by their analysis of the grid system that was employed by the designer to unite the complex horizontally and vertically to into a three-dimensional whole. If one did not “know” that it was a solemn burial grounds, one would believe that it was designed as a palace with a delightful air of fantasy and secular delights of waterways and flowering plants. Could it be that this is Raja Jai Singh’s palace, never destroyed, converted by decree and some minimum face-lifting to a Mughal tomb?
Assuming that Shahjahan was galvanized into prompt action to initiate the project on behalf of his deceased beloved, we can safely assume that he needed one year minimum between conception and ground-breaking. Since Mumtaz died in June 1631, that would take us to June 1632. But construction is said to have begun in January 1632.
Excavation must have presented a formidable task. First, the demolition of Raja Jai Singh’s palace would have had to occur. We know that the property had a palace on it from the chronicles of Mirza Qazini and Abd al-Hamid Lahori. Lahori writes:
“As there was a tract of land (zamini) of great eminence and pleasantness towards the south of that large city, on which before there was this mansion (manzil) of Raja Man Singh, and which now belongs to his grandson Raja Jai Singh, it was selected for the burial place (madfan) of that tenant of paradise.[Mumtaz]” (p. 43)
Measures would have to be taken during excavation of this main building and the other buildings to the north to retain the Jumna River from inundating the excavation. The next steps would have been to sink the massive foundation piers, put in the footings, retaining the walls and the plinth or podium to support the Taj and its two accompanying buildings to the east and west plus the foundations for the corner towers, the well house, the underground rooms, and assuming the complex was done at one time, all the supports for the remainder of the buildings throughout the complex. To be conservative in our estimate, we need at least another year of construction which takes us up to January 1634.
But here is the problem. On the anniversary of the death of Mumtaz, each year Shahjahan would stage the Urs celebration at the Taj. The first Urs occurred on June 22, 1632. Though construction had allegedly begun only six months earlier, the great plinth of red sandstone over brick, 374 yards long, 140 yards wide, and 14 yards high was already in place! Even Begley and Desai are somewhat amazed.
Where was all the construction debris, the piles of materials, the marble, the brick scaffolding, the temporary housing for thousands of workers, the numerous animals needed to haul materials? If “heaven was surpassed by the magnificence of the rituals”, as one chronicler puts it, then nothing should have been visible to mar the exquisite panorama that the occasion called for.
But by June 1632, it was not physically possible that construction could have progressed to completion of excavation, construction of all the footings and foundations, completion of the immense platform and clearing of all the debris and eyesores in preparation for the first Urs.(http://www.stephen-knapp.com/an_architect_looks_at_the_taj_mahal_legend.htm)