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Entrance gateway to the Taj Mahal, Agra.

Entrance gateway to the Taj Mahal, Agra.

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1820

Shelfmark: Add.Or.566

Item number: 566

Length: 40

Width: 65

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour of the entrance gateway to the Taj Mahal, Agra in Uttar Pradesh with the mausoleum in the background. The Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) in memory of his favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum upon her death in 1631. Constructed brick and faced in India’s finest marble, quarried at Makrana near Jodhpur, it took 12 years to build the mausoleum involving 20,000 craftsmen from all over Asia. The tomb and accompanying buildings are organised around a garden divided into four parts by raised walkways with water channels at their centres. The domed white marble mausoleum stands on a plinth with tapering minarets on each corner. There is a high recessed arch or 'pishtaq' at the centre of each of the building's four facades; each central niche is flanked by further small double arches. Inlaid coloured marbles and gemstones in floral designs embellish the exterior and interior of the building. Its harmonious proportions and the high quality of its craftsmanship have made the Taj Mahal one of the most famous buildings in the world. This view shows the southern gateway to the garden complex beyond. It is built of brick and faced in red sandstone and in places white marble. Its surfaces are further decorated by inlaid coloured marbles and gemstones. A calligraphic passage from the Qur'an around the central arch encourages the reader to 'Enter Thou my Paradise'.

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