The comprehensive study on its symbolic meaning. The

The stunningly beautiful wonder of the world, Taj Mahal is located to the east of Agra, a city 175km from the capital of India, New Delhi. To the unknown, the beauty of Taj Mahal corresponds to the depth of love between the 5th Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his 3rd wife Mumtaz Mahal. But its success owes nothing to chance, starting from the layout of the mausoleum, the garden, the choice of materials, engravings, everything is symbolic to contribute to it. From now, the monument is not mere a symbol of love but also a representation of Paradise associated with the notion of Last Judgment due to Wayne Ernest Begley who published a comprehensive study on its symbolic meaning. The Taj Mahal as a whole, including the south buildings, the gardens, terrace and the mausoleum were made compared to the “Plain of the Assembly”, the eschatological place of Last Judgement. (Begley, W 229) It is a rectangular area surrounded by seven rows of angels, two on either side and three on the farthest end representing the boundary of the garden. The Throne of God, which according to Islam is carried by 8 angels, depicted by the 8 sided star on the top representing the octagon of the mausoleum. According to Ibn al-‘Arabi, the “Plain of Assembly” will take place on the final day when God will sit upon his throne in judgement of humanity. It is flanked by 4 righteous, representing the two identical structures, the mosque and reception halls. Directly below the throne is Angel Gabriel, chief of angelic hosts and below this is a vertical line ‘Barrier’ dividing heaven and hell. In Taj’s allegorical scheme, the four water channels of the Chahar Bagh garden, symbolize the four flowing rivers of paradise mentioned in the Quran and Hadith literature, whereas the raised marble tank in the center called Hawd al-Kausar, where according to Islamic Tradition, the prophet Muhammad will stand before God to intervene for the faithful. Every aspect of the monument evokes the ascension of the souls to Paradise. The terrace of the mausoleum has a hidden stairway only seen from up close. From far away, the mausoleum seems to float in air without any constraints. It is the exceptional architectural lightness that corresponds to the ascension of the souls. Furthermore, the dome points to the sky. The Muslims believe that there is not one but 8 paradises, the mausoleum, octagonal in shape rests on a square base, a geometric form corresponding to the earth. Symbolically representing the passage from earth to paradise through the dome. According to Sura 69, verse 17 in the Qur’an, the divine throne is supported by 4 angels that will be eight on the Day of the Judgment. The decline of the Mughal Empire began in 1707 after the reign of Emperor Bahadur Shah. The Empire saw many failed successors from then until the British colonization in 1857. The Mughal Empire, once said to be the second largest empire to have existed in the Indian Subcontinent, lost its power and control to the British. The Taj Mahal for the English wasn’t a representation of Paradise or a monument of love, it was a regular garden much like the others. They made restorations to perhaps try to make the monument less Mughal, more them. A large part of the trees, plants and flowers were removed to make perfectly square lawns, or a “French garden.” Initially all the architectural structures built by the British were strictly functional. As the empire expanded, they developed certain styles. Later the British ruling authorities realized that in the history of all rulers, mainly the Mughal, the expression of power of dynasty was judged based on show of wealth and splendor. Victoria Railway Terminus is an outstanding example of British Colonial Architecture and Victorian Gothic Revival mixed with Indian traditions. To the British, success in the field of architecture on their colonial lands not only served the utilitarian purpose but also projected cultural statements of superiority. It was designed by the British Architect, Frederick William Stevens and took 10 years to build, longest time for any building of that era in Bombay. The Victoria Terminus, massive in size, sits awkwardly between three major roads, which need to adjust their course of way to facilitate the building and the crowd that uses it. “These various attributes of the Victoria Terminus–its physical interaction with the city’s urban order, its significance and meaning in the minds of the people who use it, and its architectural uniqueness–fit together to create a structure that is both meaningful as an historical artifact and active as a representational performance.To state that a physical structure can function both as an ‘artifact’ and as a ‘performance’ is to imply that it has the capacity to embody meaning or have meaning assigned to it, while also actively participating in the creation of meaning.” (Cole, R) 


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