Saturday, July 7, 2007

7 Wonders:: Taj! wah! Taj.

The new seven wonders list will be out on Saturday night. We unravel some of the myths surrounding the Taj Mahal.

It's a marvel in marble, a symbol of eternal love. But the Taj is also a source of many legends.

For over 300 years, the Taj has attracted many a visitor right from travellers to architects, inspired work of art and even to a lot of curiosity. Its history is peppered with legends, another reason that has attracted many.

Writer Firoz Bakht Ahmed says, “Word of mouth has lead to a number of legends to crop up.”

The Taj is considered to be the epitome of love of a man for his wife. The proof of Shah Jahan's devotion to his beloved Arjuman Bano Begum, but is the Taj just that? A monument to mark Shah Jahan's love for his dead wife?

“It could be that he erected the structure to be remembered as a legend,” Bakht added.

And did this desire to achieve greatness lead the Mughal emperor to cut off the arms of the 20,000 workers who spent 22 years to raise this monument?

According to one myth, Shah Jahan committed this barbaric act to ensure that a similar structure of such grandeur was never built. How far is this true?

Bakht said, “Not true, was a compassionate ruler, theory maybe floated by the British.”

And what about the myth of the Black Taj. It is believed that Shah Jahan wanted to build another mausoleum, exactly identical to the Taj Mahal, except it was to be in black marble. So where is this black Taj?

“Maybe because his son imprisoned him, “Bakht said.

These legends may not have a seal of approval of historians but one thing is for sure they have kept the mystery and intrigue around the Taj alive and thus it's lure.