A marvel of beauty - looking N. to Taj Mahal, marble tomb of a Mogul Queen, Agra, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of the Taj Mahal at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) as a memorial to his favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known by her titles Mumtaz Mahal (Chosen of the Palace) and Taj Mahal (Crown of the Palace). Work on the tomb began in 1631 and by 1643 the entire complex was almost complete. Built of white marble inlaid with precious stones, the mausoleum is square in plan and surmounted by a bulbous dome. It stands on a plinth with a minaret at each of the four corners and stands at the northern end of enclosed formal gardens in the form of a Persian ‘char bagh', where a square garden is divided equally into four smaller quadrants. This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect, which were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.