The center of the tomb is called the main
chamber. In the middle of this chamber is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal
and to one side is the tomb of Shah Jahan. These tombs are not the
real ones. The real ones are buried in a crypt underneath the main
The main chamber of the Taj Mahal is an octagonal
shaped room. It is surrounded by eight empty chambers, four rectangular
and four eight-sided ones. These help support the heavy marble dome.
Each of these chambers are outlined with bands of inlaid calligraphy.
Passages from the Koran are also found here. Flowers in vases are
also etched on the walls.
When the tomb was first built, a gold screen was placed around the cenotaph
of Mumtaz Mahal. In 1643, Shah Jahan ordered that it be replaced
with a marble one.
Four different types of artistic designs was used in decorating the monument.
dura was a technique that was done by precisely carving hard and semi-hard
gems, then laying them in sockets of prepared marble. In the Taj
Mahal these designs for the arabesque floral tendrils
which cover the surface of the white marble. A tradition of hardstone
carving existed in India for years. This is seen in places in the
Taj Mahal where the carving is done directly on the marble. The verses
from the Koran were inscribed using calligraphy. In the Taj Mahal
the writing includes an optical trick. The size of the letters over
the arch seem to be the same from top to bottom. This was done by
heightening the letters as the distance from the eye increased. In
the mosque, the art of incised painting was used.
This is done by first painting a surface, then scraping a design.
Usually red and white paint were the colors used.
When visitors enter the Taj Mahal, it is Indian custom to remove your shoes.
This shows respect for the holy places. The interior is also very
dimly lit. The chambers on both levels are fitted with panes of milky
glass. This gives a diffused light which changes the atmosphere.
This altered light offers a mysterious quality to the inside. The
light changes throughout the course of a day.