Taj Mahal is a grand mausoleum that has an advanced architecture. It was built during the period 1632 to 1652 by Shahjahan, the Indian Mughal emperor in commemoration of his favorite and beloved wife Mumtaz, who left for the heavenly abode while giving birth to her child. The land for the mausoleum was procured from Raja Man Singh, a Rajput king.
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The premise is rectangular with dimensions of 567 meters from north to south and 305 meters from east to west. The mausoleum is situated at the center and is constructed on a platform towards the northern portion. A mosque was built towards the western side of the mausoleum and in order to balance the architectural look, a guest house was constructed on the eastern side (Ruggles 118). The location of the mosque on the western side can be attributed to the fact that Muslims face towards the west while offering their prayers.
Four minarets around the mausoleum have been kept lower in height so that the impression of the huge dome is not diminished. A canal is constructed at the front in a manner so that a reflection of the mausoleum can be seen in the water. The entrance gate is so massive that it can be considered a historical monument in itself (“Taj Mahal Garden” par. 1). Quranic verses are inscribed on the walls that give an impression of Islamic architecture.
The total area of the Taj Mahal is 174,000 square meters, out of which the gardens alone occupy 90,000 square meters. These gardens are based on geometrical designs and a peculiar thing is that number four and its multiples are used in the arrangements. It is worth mentioning that the number four is considered to be sacred and auspicious in Islam (“Taj Mahal Gardens” par. 2).
Alhambra is one of the most renowned castle gardens of Europe. It is situated on a fortified plateau that is encircled by the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The word ‘Alhambra’ has been derived from Arabic literature and its literal meaning is ‘red castle’. Though the castle was initially built by Muhammed I, the garden was developed by Muhammed ibn-Yusuf ibn-Nash. The Court of the Pool, within the garden, has abundant instances of Islamic architecture. An impact of northern European gardens’ design is visible in Alhambra (“Alhambra” par. 1).
The garden is based on the concept of Islamic paradise, the influence of which is apparent all over the place. It is worth mentioning that according to the Quran (holy book of the Muslims) paradise is a lavish garden. Water was a scarcity during those days in the deserts and was considered to be a luxury.
Within the Alhambra gardens, water has been used liberally in order to give people reprieve from the usual scorching heat of the desert; water was believed to humidify and cool the surrounding atmosphere. The sound of water was considered to be soothing to the ear as well (“The Alhambra – Islamic Jewel of Granada” par. 12).
Islamic architecture is also evident in Alhambra’s huge horse-shoe-shaped entrance. It was called the Gate of Justice. Trivial complaints were heard and justice was rendered here; an Islamic custom. ‘Generalife’, a Moorish villa, can be considered an extension of Alhambra. It is also an excellent paradigm of Arabic landscaping and is considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens (“The Alhambra – Islamic Jewel of Granada” par. 13).
Ruggles, Fairchild. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Print.
Taj Mahal Garden, 2014.
Taj Mahal Gardens, n.d.