The Taj Mahal, from the top of the gateway, Agra.
Photographer: Impey, Eugene Clutterbuck
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from an album of 80 albumen prints taken by Eugene Clutterbuck Impey, giving a view of the Taj Mahal from the top of its gateway. Agra was the capital of the Mughal empire until Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-58) moved to a new city at Delhi in 1638. The uniquely beautiful Taj Mahal in its garden setting is a high expression of the evolution of Mughal architecture. It was built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum to his favourite wife Arjumand Banu, who died in 1631 during childbirth. The construction took several years, from 1631 to about 1648, and involved thousands of artisans. The name 'Taj Mahal' is derived from the corruption of the queen's title of Mumtaz-i-Mahal or Chosen of the Palace. The pure white marble was from the quarries at Makrana in Rajasthan. The inlaid stones which form part of its decoration included lapis lazuli, jasper, agate, chalcedony, cornelian, jade, onyx, coral, amethyst and turquoise. Scholars have speculated that the carefully planned complex may either represent an earthly manifestation of Paradise or be an embodiment of profound concepts of Islamic cosmology.