An emperor's dream lost in the mist of time

The story of Black Taj Mahal is as popular as the Taj Mahal itself. Shah Jahan wanted to build another identical mausoleum with black marble on the other bank of river Yamuna, for his own burial. But his son imprisoned him thereby the dream remained unfulfilled.

The Evidence

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Taj Mahal is one of the most perfect architecture in the world, but there is an irreparable asymmetry in the heart of this mausoleum.

The floor of funerary chamber is decorated with floral-border and eight-point-star with perfect balancing from all-sides. The cenotaph of Mumtaz is situated at the centre of the floor which is bordered from all-four sides but Shahjahan's cenotaph is superimposed on the floor decoration in such a way that make the setting unusual and abnormal.

This is the only asymmetry in world's most perfect architecture. It is clear that at the time of completion of the Taj Mahal, Shahjahan was not planned to be buried in it.

In 1679, a book "Les Six Voyage De Jean Baptiste Tavernier" was published in France. The author of the book was a traveller, he mentioned in his book that he had seen the beginning of the construction of another mausoleum for Shahjahan, but the war with his son interrupted the plan.

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Mahtab Bagh is the site of Shahjahan's mausoleum as describe by Tavernier. The Mahtab Bagh is perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal complex, such positioning confirms that Mahtab Bagh was an integral part of the original construction project of the Taj Mahal. Now, this fact has been approved with historical evidences. But the existence of Mahtab Bagh is an enigma itself. The architectural elements which are most visible in the Taj Mahal does not match with the elements present in the Mahtab Bagh.

Mahtab Bagh is architecturally disconnected with its counter-part which indicates that something unusual had happed with its ongoing construction after Shahjahan died.

The book, "BLACK TAJ MAHAL: The Emperor's Missing Tomb", contains a hypothesis to explain that under what circumstances the course of construction of Mahtab Bagh was changed.

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Emperor Shahjahan is well known for his demonstrative nature. The erection of twins mausoleum could be the supreme way to express the feeling of love for his departed wife.

• The white color is the symbol of femininity whereas the black color is a symbol of masculinity and mourning as well; a mausoleum clad in black color, symbolizes Shahjahan’s everlasting mourning.

• The two mausoleum, in front of each other but separated by the stream of water; symbolizes the pangs of separation which Shahjahan had after untimely demise of his wife.

• The conception of the twin mausoleums thus stand as a testimony to the eternal relationship between man and woman.

What other scholars says ?

Whether this monarch, even with all his vast resources could have carried out such an extravagant and spectacular project will never be known, but that he had the vision to complete it is an indication of the unlimited extent of his architectural ambition.

Percy Brown - 1964 AD

Archaeologists have found ruins of the Mahtab Bagh, or Moonlight Garden, on the other side of the river. Its reflecting pool forms a perfect image of the north face of Taj Mahal, possible evidence that Shah Jahan had already begun construction of its black replica when his illness triggered the war of succession putting an end to his plan.

Caroline Arnold, Madeleine Comora - 2007 AD

In one sense, the true story of the Mahtab Bagh is even more astonishing than the myth. It is clear from the (now comprehensible) references to it in the Mughal sources that it was built at the same time as the Taj itself.

Giles Tillotson - 2008 AD

In Agra, excavations were recently carried out at an enigmatic garden on the opposite bank of the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal. The Mahtab Bagh was built between 1632 and 1643 by Shah Jahan in conjunction with the construction of the Taj.

Fairchild Ruggles - 2008 AD