Once upon a time there was an emperor, Shah Jahan, who lived with his queens in an enchanted kingdom very far away. His third wife though, Arjumand Banu, was his favorite as she was the youngest and the most beautiful of the three: so beautiful she deserved the name of “Mumtaz Mahal”, “the chosen of the palace” that is. 

The emperor was so profoundly in love with his young bride (they were fifteen and fourteen years old when they got married) that he totally ignored the other wives. Unfortunately the young queen died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. The king decided  to build the most magnificent mausoleum there ever existed, made of white marble and adorned with precious stones, to commemorate his beloved. He hired the best architects,  masons, marble workers, mosaicists and decorators from all over the world.

The construction costs became a burden for the empire: the white marble was brought in from Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, sapphire from Sri Lanka and carnelian from Arabia, for a total of about thirty-two million rupees of that time. It took twenty-two years for the mausoleum to be completed and during that time the emperor thought he could build a copy of the same in black marble, near the one he had commissioned for his wife. One of his sons declared him insane though, before he could even started his new project. He died in Agra Fort when he was seventy-five years old. Only then he was laid to rest next to his queen underneath the dome of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is now considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.


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