Theory Of Black Taj Mahal; Failed Attempt To Create A Mirror Image Of The Original One
By Divija Jain
One of the greatest architectural wonders of India and the world, Taj Mahal, is claimed by a few to be incomplete without its mirror image “The Black Taj Mahal”.
A myth surrounding the monument of love is that Shah Jahan planned to build a replica of the original monument opposite to it, which was to be divided by the river Yamuna and connected by a bridge. Shah Jahan planned to be buried in the replica.
Origin of the Legend of the Black Taj Mahal or the emperor’s missing tomb
The first written record of the legend is found in Tavernier’s writings about his travels to India. He was a French traveler who found his way to the royal court during the reign of Shah Jahan.
He mentions how the emperor’s plans were disrupted due to the war of succession between his sons. And eventually, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father and put an end to his plans for his separate tomb beside the tomb of his wife.
The locals in the city of Agra also believe that the work had started in Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden opposite Taj Mahal) but was suspended by Aurangzeb.
Proof that Shah Jahan wasn’t supposed to be buried alongside Mumtaz Mahal inside Taj Mahal
The most indisputable proof is the placement of the tomb in this image. If Shah Jahan was to be buried beside his wife, he would have constructed space for his mausoleum when he initially built the monument.
Many excavations at the site proved to be in favour, as a map of a well-planned garden was found. Even the width of Mehtab Bagh and Taj Mahal’s garden matched!
Another proof is the local folklore and tales of the plan passed on to the descendants of workers of Taj Mahal who are till date engaged in similar professions.
The descendants of the workers now reside in a small colony in Agra, Tajganj. They too believe, like Tavernier, that the work stopped after Aurangzeb claimed the throne.
They also claim that black marble which is called ‘Sang-e-Musa ‘ in their local language was to be used for the black Taj Mahal. A few excavations of the same were found in Mehtab Bagh.
What do the critics of the myth say?
Many historians and scholars refute the entire theory. They believe even if the emperor was to be buried somewhere else it surely wasn’t in Mehtab Bagh (the claimed site for the replica).
They argue that Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry is not visible at the site. The height of the Moonlight Garden is comparatively extremely low. To avoid seasonal flooding a good level of height was necessary.
The water tank in Mehtab Bagh is also not in line with the Taj Mahal’s structure. Another disapproval of critics is that the so-called ‘black marble’ is just white marble which got discloured over time.
They also argue that if he wanted a ‘ Black Taj Mahal ‘ he would have started the construction much earlier.
However strong the critics may be, the myth of the Black Taj Mahal isn’t something to be dismissed without an in-depth analysis.
It is undeniable, that if the mirror image of the original Taj Mahal had been erected it would have been the greatest architectural wonder of all times.
Do you believe the myth to be true or do you think it’s just an imaginary story created by fanatics of the original work?
Originally published at https://edtimes.in on June 19, 2020.