other Mughal tombs, the garden of the Taj Mahal has been laid out entirely in
front of the tomb and does not play any part in the 'background'. Instead, the
background has been provided by the sky. This background is not constant; it
changes its colour and texture more than often, and the
Taj is always presented in a variety of tints and moods. Its shades
are subtly reflected on the white marble surface of the Taj Mahal which changes
its colour and complexion accordingly.
The Makrana marble used is of such a nature that it takes on incredibly subtle
variations of tint and tone, according to the changes in the light, thus picturing
the passing colour of the moment.
The colossal height of the tomb, along with its pyramidal appearance (which
is obtained by the receding plinths, the square tomb and the bulbous dome, along
with the pilasters surmounted by pinnacles, the tapering minarets and the decreasing
volume of the dome culminating in a kalasa) give it a soaring effect. It appears
as if it is about to rise into the sky...an ethereal quality full of lightness
Correction of Illusionary Effects
The indigenous builders of the Taj Mahal fully understood the deceptive nature
of the human eye. They knew that the reality and its perception and interpretation
thereof differed. The plinth of the main tomb is 2'10'' high on an average.
But the height varies at different places, particularly the central point between
two piers being in each case 0.5" to 0.7" higher than the sides. This
convexity has deliberately been given to the plinth in the centre of each arch,
or else the building would have appeared as if it were falling down! The facades
are not exactly at a right angle with the plinth, but are slightly inclined.
The finial is a stupendous crowning feature which measures nearly 10 meters!!
The architect fully anticipated the apparent size which a finial would present
from such a great height. It has therefore been very ingeniously been planned.
These features of construction demonstrate the ability of the Indian architects
to reconcile the illusionary effects created by distance and light.
in each facade have been demarcated by semi-octagonal pilasters that rise from
the plinth of the main tomb. They have chevron patterns inlaid with black and
yellow marble horizontally along their whole height.
They appear to be fluted on each side though, as a matter of fact, there is
no real fluting at all. They create a beautiful illusionary effect which the
architect has very skilfully manipulated.
Uniform Size of Calligraphic Characters
The letter of the inscription around archways at the Taj Mahal, are generally
supposed to become larger and larger above. On closer scrutiny, however, they
are found to be of uniform size. Instead, the letters have been inscribed densely
at the bottom, with little plain surface in between; the inscription becomes
more and more sparse as it rises with more plain surface in between the letters.
The diminution of the plain surfaces has been accurately calculated. Thus, the
optical perspective of the letters has been reconciled, and unmistakable uniformity
Forms and Lines
The composition of the forms and lines of the Taj Mahal is perfectly symmetrical.
Here we meet with a beautiful admixture of lines, horizontal with vertical,
and straight with curved - all harmoniously set together in the total unity.
They adopt each other with amazing uniformity.
The combination is entirely rhythmic and melodic. Especially the semi-octagonal
alcoves at the chamfered angles which are perceptible from every perspective
view and give a 3-dimensional appearance from the outset. They emphasise the
diagonal lines and suggest depth.
Solids and Voids
The great depth has also been further suggested by the double arches, one over
the other, on each side of the central portal. The solids and voids have very
judiciously been distributed to provide a variety, yet an undiminished uniformity.
These alcoves, the balconies in each minaret, the chhatris near the dome, and
certain pronounced projections in each facade allow a beautiful play of light
Taj Mahal Building, Information of Taj Mahal