[Gateway of the Taj Mahal, Agra.]
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph showing the southern gateway to the formal gardens of the Taj Mahal enclosure in Agra, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1870s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views. The iconic white marble tomb, which lies at the other end of the gardens from this gateway, was built by Emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-1658) for his wife Arjumand Banu Begum, titled Mumtaz Mahal. She died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child. The Emperor himself was later buried alongside her. This gateway is built of brick with a red sandstone and white marble facing. Its surfaces are inlaid with coloured marbles in floral, geometric and calligraphic motifs. Quranic passages which run around the central 'pishtaq' or arched entrance make reference to themes of the afterlife. The final verses beseech the reader 'Enter Thou my Paradise', a reference to the heavenly gardens and pavilions in the complex beyond.