Taj Mahal, Agra, and the garden
Watercolour of the Taj Mahal in Agra, by an anonymous artist working in the Agra style, c. 1820s.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) for his favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum upon her death in 1631. Constructed of India’s finest marble, quarried at Makrana near Jodhpur, it took 12 years to build 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 pietra-dura was done with thousands of imported precious and semi-precious stones arranged in floral designs that embellish the exterior and interior of the building. The domed white marble mausoleum stands on a plinth with tapering minarets on each corner. Its harmonious proportions and exquisite craftsmanship have made the Taj Mahal one of the wonders of the world. This drawing shows the gardens in front of the mausoleum, with trees, cypresses and flower beds visible in the foreground, and a gardener with a basket of greenery on his head.