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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)

The World's Architectural Gem

The World's Architectural Gem.

From Tundla the City of Agra is the rendezvous. We all know of the Taj Mahal, India's architectural gem—in fact of the world—beggaring description. It is the mausoleum built by the Mogul Emperor, Shah Jahan (Emperor of the World), over the grave of his favourite Queen, Mumtaz Mahal (Honoured of the Harem). The building is entirely constructed of pink sandstone and pure white marble. Seen by moonlight no description can possibly convey the beauty of the sight. The marble lace work and carved pillars in support of the Burial Chamber are without rival or peer. When Shah Jahan decided upon building the Taj, he brought together the most skilled artificers of India and set them to work. When the building was completed, with the barbarous power of his day he had the eyes of all the workmen put out so they should never duplicate their work. He certainly pensioned them all for life, but what pension could recompense their loss of sight!

During the declining years of the Mogul power, when the Maharratas were at their zenith, Agra was ravished by this warlike and conquering people. The Taj suffered considerably from their greed of plunder and vandalism. Not only did they remove the decorative precious stones throughout the building, but they carried off the wonderfully chased and carved gates of pure silver; in fact, it appears strange, that, being of Hindu persuasion, and, therefore, inimical to all things pertaining to Mahomedanism, page 39 they did not completely destroy the whole structure.