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Taj Mahal (Monumental Legacy)

Taj Mahal (Monumental Legacy)


Item Code: NAC838

by Som Prakash Verma

Hardcover (Edition: 2012)

Oxford University Press
ISBN 9780198080350

Size: 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Pages: 119 (35 B/W Illustrations)
Weight of the Book: 305 gms
Price: $27.50
Discounted: $20.62   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 13th Oct, 2013


From the Jacket

Representing the pinnacle of Mughal art and architecture, the Taj Mahal has captured both popular and aesthetic imagination. Reconstructing the architectural glory of this monument, this book chronicles why the mausoleum is a marvel.

The volume presents a graphic account of the intricacies of carvings and calligraphy as well as the overarching grand design of the Taj. From the chahar bagh pattern, water courses, tanks, and fountains to the delicate handiwork, surface ornamentation, inlay of gemstone, and pietra dura, it underscores the confluence of many styles. Also included are little-known facts on architects, workmen, expenditure, and maintenance, as well as artistic renditions of the Taj Mahal down the ages.

Part of the prestigious Monumental Legacy series, this book is replete with line drawings, visuals, and rare paintings, as well as practical tips and information. It will not only be the definitive guide for tourists but will also interest students and scholars of medieval history, art and architecture.


Time has constructed this edifice, to display thereby the Creator’s glory. Its foundation is stable like the earth, and firm alike the faith of the pious. I know not who with such magic conceived its beauty, for even the ‘inconceivable’ has taken refuge here. ‘Qudsi’, court poet of Shah Jahan (see Begley and Desai [1989: 86]).

The Taj Mahal, which has an exceptional importance for humanity and is listed as a World Heritage Site, is the subject of the present monograph. This historic monument, captured through photographs by everyone who visits it and frequently described and portrayed by artists, has surpassed any other creation in the world in the same category, with respect to its delicacy, grace of form, perfect proportions, and purely decorative architectural designs—testing Indian architects’ high idea of aesthetics.

This book is adequately equipped with academic scholarship and aims at providing general readers information about this wondrous monument, which is reckoned to attract the largest number of visitors compared to any other monument in the world. Most studies on the Taj Mahal describe historical sources, architectural forms, and style. Among these, the foremost are Ram Nath’s The Immortal Taj Mahal (1972), W.E. Begley and Z.A. Desai’s Taj Mahal: The Illuminated Tomb (1989), and Ebba Koch’s The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (2006). The other notable works include The Taj Mahal (1972) by David Caroll, Taj Mahal and the Glory of Mughal Agra (1982) by John Lall and D.N. Dube, and Architecture of Mughal India, New Cambridge History of India (1992) by Catherine B. Asher. I have little to cavil with and much to admire in their works. In shaping this small volume, I have been enlightened by the works of Begley and Desai, and Koch, despite a slight difference of opinion on a few occasions. Z.A. Desai’s scholarly contributions to the subject inspire me to devote the present monograph to his cherished memory.

I would like to thank Nadeem A. Rezavi, Mohammad Afzal Khan, Ishrat Alam, and Vinod Kumar Singh for their occasional discourses on the Taj Mahal. Special thanks are due to my friends Ghulam Mujtaba and Anis Alvi for the on-the-spot photographs. I would also like to thank Dr Imtiaz Ahmad, Director of Khuda Bakhsh O.P. Library, Patna for granting permission to publish two miniatures (Plates V and VI) from the Library’s Collection.

I express my gratitude to Devangana Desai, series editor of the Monumental Legacy series, for giving me the opportunity to share definite views on the Taj Mahal. I also thanks the entire editorial staff of the Oxford University Press for their support.

My acknowledgements will be incomplete without the mention of Smriti Prasad, Astha, and Ami, who always worked for me during my visits to Agra and its monuments.


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List of Illustrations viii
Preface and Acknowledgements xi
Introduction 1
1. Historical Sources 10
2. Architecture: Concept and Form 16
3. Gardens of the Taj Mahal: Chahar Bagh 63
4. Marble with Gemstone: Inlay and Relief 69
5. Calligraphy on the Taj Mahal 77
6. The Picturesque Taj: Artists’ Perception 81
7. The Taj Museum 87
8. Monuments around the Taj 89
Appendix 1. Donation of Land for the Taj Mahal 92
Appendix 2. An Imperial Tribute to the Taj Maid 94
Practical Tips and Information 95
Glossary 99
Bibliography 103

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