Taj Mahal (1901)Archaeological Survey of India
The Taj Mahal was built in Agra, India, between 1632–53, by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a monument to his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and a mausoleum for his own body. Its gleaming white marble walls are complemented by the verdant gardens that surround it.
Step through the darwaza, or 'Great Gate', and take in the vista before you. Influenced by traditional Persian designs, the garden is split into four symmetrical sections divided by stone paths and pools of water.
Trees line the pathways, providing shade from the hot Indian sun, as well as fruits and fragrances to please the senses. Early visitors to the gardens also describe in lush detail the roses and daffodils.
This reflecting pool is known as the al Hawd al-Kawthar, the Pool of Abundance, in reference to the pool of paradise as described to Muhammad in the Qur'an.
The similarity in layout and architecture of the Taj Mahal gardens with the Shalimar Gardens in Jammu and Kashmir suggests that both may have been made by the same architect, Ali Mardan.
Standing on the resplendent platform of the Taj Mahal itself, the view back across the gardens is unparalleled. It's easy to see why this is widely considered the jewel in the crown of Islamic architecture in India.
On the other bank of the River Yamnua, perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal, lies the Mehtab Bagh, or Moonlight Garden. Like the gardens of the Taj Mahal, this was filled with fruit trees, white plaster walkways, pavilions, pools, and fountains.
Taj Mahal, Agra, IndiaFondazione Gianfranco Ferré