5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Taj Mahal

The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (in English “King of the World”) spent 17 years–1631 to 1638 AD–building the Taj Mahal.  Located in Agra, India, this famous wonder of the world still holds a few secrets. Here then, are some things that you won’t find in any of the guidebooks.

The Taj gets a facial/Image courtesy of Gadling

The Five Secrets Of The Taj Mahal

1. “Facial”
The side effects of industrialization in Agra has resulted in a yellowing of the building’s marble. More recently, the government ordered all businesses within a specific proximity of the famous tourist attraction to switch to the use of natural gas or move. The building was given at least one facial to date using Fuller’s Earth or what is better known in India as Multani Mitti.
It is a mud-pack that many women in India use as a skin cleanser. The substance was applied to the surface of the building and then washed off with warm water after 24 hours had passed. It brought back the structure’s sheen.

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Shah Jahan/Image courtesy of History Discussion

2. “Nasty Rumors”
There is a well-known myth about the Taj Mahal that eventually makes its way to some who visit there. Legend has it that Shah Jahan ordered that all the chief artisans who built the structure be blinded and maimed so that the Taj Mahal’s unique beauty could not ever be replicated. Historians have only been able to determine that workers did suffer from deformities.
However, the truth is that over the nearly two-decade construction period of both back-breaking and incredibly intricate work, many who worked on it suffered from a bone disease which resulted in them becoming disabled and men who worked on the immaculate inlay lost or damaged their eyesight while doing so.

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The man who sold the Taj Mahal three times (and other national buildings/Image courtesy of YouTube

3. “Once, twice, three times . . .”
While the Taj Mahal is now a national monument and was deemed a UNESCO heritage site in 1983, it was sold three times in the past. A dishonest lawyer, M.K Srivastava a.k.a Natwarlal sold the famous site to tourists for approximately 100,000 rupees a total of three times. He posed as a government official and made the sales look legitimate using a fake ID, official-looking deeds of sales and apparently persuasive salesmanship. Although he was arrested he escaped from being imprisoned more than once.
Natwarlal was arrested and fled imprisonment several times. Last apprehended in 1996, he was then 86 years old. He was in a wheelchair being transported from prison to the hospital when he managed to escape. He has not been seen since then.

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Perfect symmetry/Image courtesy of Flickr

4. “Perfect Symmetry”
Although it was constructed without modern machinery, the Taj Mahal achieves perfect bilateral symmetry along a single, central axis line. Each corner is flanked by distinctive minarets; a pair of identical red stone structures. A guesthouse and a mosque are equidistant from the monument.
All four facades are also identical. They have vaulted arches. Quotes from the Quran are inlaid in Jasper onto marble.
It’s ironic that the one and only example of asymmetry there is Mumtaz’s crypt, the tomb of the maker, which is center stage while that of Shah Jahan’s breaks the rule. Legend has it that Jahan was going to build a Black Taj Mahal for himself but unfortunately died before it could be constructed. Ergo, his own burial spot was pretty much an afterthought.

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Taj Mahal 2017/Image courtesy of HDW

5. “Surviving”
The equivalent of 827 million of today’s US dollars was spent on lapis lazuli from Central Asia, makrana marble from Rajasthan, turquoise from Tibet and other precious materials. The resulting obvious opulence and the fall of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century put the Taj Mahal at risk. A North Indian Hindu community, the Jats, who were in a conflict with the Mughals looted the place in 1764 and stole the pair of silver doors. Later, British colonizers would plunder the precious gems and hand-woven carpets and the site became a party spot for the English. Finally, Lord Curzon, viceroy to India from 1899 to 1905, restored order by ordering the restoration of both the site and its gardens.