Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal with fountains and walkways

Taj Mahal – a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. The white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal. It is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.


  • construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1631.
  • masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia and Iran
  • it took approximately 22 years to build what we see today.
  • needed 22,000 laborers and 1,000 elephants.
  • built entirely out of white marble, which was brought in from all over India and central Asia.
  • cost approximately 32 million rupees
  • Taj Mahal was finally completed in the year 1653.

What’s the problem?
Engineering the Taj Mahal] (video 4:00) and [[http://www.history.com/topics/taj-mahal/videos/deconstructing-history-taj-mahal?m=528e394da93ae|Deconstructing History: Taj Mahal (video 3:00) show how the Taj Mahal was built.

  • Ask – The Taj Mahal is located by a river, and the water table is high and variable. How could the foundations of the building be made to support the huge weight of the marble building and keep it level for centuries?
  • Imagine – The engineers knew that they would have to protect the foundations.
  • Design, Build – By incorporating an elaborate arch structure and filling it with rubble below ground, they would have a sturdy platform to build on.
  • Improve – Nothing has been changed since the Taj Mahal has been built. It was so perfectly designed and built in the 1630-1650s.

That’s engineering

  • dome – an element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory.
  • marble – metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to heat and pressure. It can be cut into pieces of specific size and used in monuments, buildings, sculptures, paving and other projects.

Engineering ideas

  • dome, arch, stonecutter, construction

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • Take a tour – Taj Mahal – virtual tour – Views from the Taj Mahal’s Roof, Minarets & Crypt, Includes 360° Panoramas, Movies, Photos, Descriptive Narration, Maps, Music and Text