Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world, means “Crown Palace.” The Taj was built over a period of 22 years from 1632, as a tribute to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan had the Taj constructed to enshrine her mortal remains and be a a center of the pilgrimage. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa. Shah Jahan was known to have patronized Indian artisans irrespective of religion and caste.


On June 17, 1631, Mumtaz Mahal died after delivering her 14th child. The Emperor had to be summoned from the battlefield to be with his dying wife. Overcome with grief, Shah Jahan promised to immortalize their love. Mumtaz Mahal asked her husband to create a symbol of their love and prosperity.
The Taj was built  on the banks of the Yamuna River using marble from the quarries of Makrana. A ramp 21 1/2 miles long was built to haul huge pieces of marble to the site of construction. There are four tapering minarets 136.48 feet high on each corner of the plinth. The minarets not only balance the main structure of the mausoleum, but are also leaning out so a natural disaster will not destroy the main edifice by falling on it. It is said that as many as 35 different types of precious and semi-precious stones were used in the inlay work done on the Taj. Turquoise, jade, agate, coral, lapis, lazuli, onyx, bloodstone, carnelian, jasper, garnet and malachite were used to decorate flowers like lily and honeysuckle.

On either side of the Taj are two identical buildings that are made entirely out of sandstone. While both are mosques, the one towards the west (left side) is important and used for offering prayers, as it not only sanctifies the Taj but also faces Mecca. The replica on the other side is known as the Jawab (answer).


In his later years when he was 65, his son Aurangzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan in the Red Fort at Agra and became the successor of the throne. In the last years of his imprisonment and until his death in 1666, he somehow managed to have a gaze at Taj Mahal through the grill work of the prison, the building, he had dedicated to his wife.



Heart Wood Block India Nov 2014

Wooden block for printing

I love India! If you know me, you know I notice hearts. We had our first full day in Delhi today and my heart is full. We arrived about 24 hours ago and we have already seen and done so much. It’s almost midnight here in Delhi, so I want to quickly share how my morning started today.


My mom and I rode a rickshaw through the busy and very loud streets of Old Delhi. The Red Fort is on our right. The Red Fort was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s new capital Shahjahandabad. It was built in 1648 A.D. The yellow and green vehicle is called a tuk tuk. The honking horn means you want to get around someone. See it live below and let me know what you think!

First Morning in Delhi from Patti Donnelly on Vimeo.