The Taj Mahal from the north-east, Agra
Photographer: Caney, W.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Taj Mahal at Agra from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections taken by W. Caney during the 1880s. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known by the title Mumtaz Mahal. The name 'Taj Mahal' is derived from the corruption of the queen's title of Mumtaz-i-Mahal or Chosen of the Palace. The construction took several years, from 1631 to about 1643, and involved thousands of artisans. 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. The mausoleum is square in plan and surmounted by a bulbous dome. It stands at the centre of a rectangular plinth with a minaret at each of the four corners. The plinth is sited at the northern end of enclosed formal gardens, with a grand entrance gate at the southern end. 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. This is a view of the Taj Mahal from the north-east, where it borders the banks of the River Jumna.