We now look into the veracity of the chronicles(?) put up and how Shah Jahan could not have built the Taj Mahal.
View of Taj Mahal from the West looking East, from what is called the Mosque.
“The Taj Mahal is a seven storeys edifice with its plinth at the level of the riverbed. The courtyard in front of the building corresponds to the third story of the edifice. The entire skeleton of the edifice is made of red stone, the top four floors being plastered with marble. It measures a height of 243 ½ ft (whereas the Qutb Minar of Delhi is only 238 ft). The marble platform (4th storey) on which the central edifice is standing has a floor area of 328 ft x 328 ft, and has four marble minarets at its corners. The marble superstructure covers an area of 187 ft x 187 ft with 33 ft chambers cut off at each corner. It has a huge central dome with an inner diameter of 58 ft and a wall thickness of 14 ft — surrounded by four smaller Cupolas with a diameter of 26’8″.
The central edifice is flanked with two identical red-stone buildings–the one on the western side is a mosque and the other a community hall–each having three domes. Facing the main building at the other end of the courtyard is the Main Gateway, which is a four-storeyed edifice covering a floor area of 140 ft x 110 ft. Midway between the Gateway and the marble edifice, there are two identical double-storeyed buildings, placed on either side of the courtyard known as the “Nagar Khanas” (Drum Houses). The courtyard covers a net area of 1460 ft x 100 ft.
Outside the Main Gateway is the Great courtyard, which covers an additional area of 430 ft x 1000 ft, having rows of red stone constructions, at present used as shops. Thus, the Taj Complex covers a net area of 1890 ft x 1000 ft, which is roughly equal to half the area of the Red Fort of Agra. The whole complex is perfectly symmetrical about the North-South axis, the two halves forming mirror images of each other to minutest details…
It’s curious to note that none of the Court Papers of Shah Jahan contain any information regarding the Date of Commencement of the Taj Mahal,Duration of Construction and the Total expenditure incurred.
The Badshahnama makes a passing remark that a sum of Rs.40 lakhs was spent in building the Taj Mahal.
The present story of 20,000 workers and 22 years are based upon the writings of Tavernier.
“Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605 – 1689) was a 17th Century French gem merchant and traveler. Tavernier, a private individual and merchant traveling at his own expense, covered by his own account, 60,000 leagues, 120,000 miles making six voyages to Persia and India between the years 1630-1668. In 1675, Tavernier, at the behest of his patron, Louis XIV, published Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier’(wiki)
Dr Godbole also says, “In 1889 Dr Ball translated the original French book (Travels in India by J B Tavernier) into English, corrected some mistakes in earlier translation and provided extensive footnotes. He also studied Tavernier’s movements thoroughly and provided details of his six voyages. From this it is clear that Tavernier came to Agra only twice – in the winter of 1640-41 and in 1665.”  So, it was not possible for Tavernier to see either the beginning, or the finishing of the construction of Taj Mahal. It therefore appears that his claim of seeing the beginning and end of the construction of Taj Mahal is baseless and untrue.
2.The acquisition of the ‘Mahal’.
On the other hand, it is clear from the accounts of Badshahnama that in the same year (most probably within 6 months) Arjumand Banu had died, her body was exhumed from her temporary burial at Burhanpur and brought to Agra, and in the next year her body was permanently laid to rest in Agra. As it was not possible to erect a new building within such a short period of time and hence there is no doubt that an existing building was used as her permanent burial. In this regard, Badshahnama says that a marvelous building (imarat-e-alishan), with splendid dome (wa gumbaje) known as the palace of Raja Man Singh, at present owned by Raja Jai Singh, grandson of Man Singh, was selected for the burial of the Queen. Badshahnama also says that Shah Jahan gave Raja Jai Singh a place called Sharifabad in exchange of that grand palace (Ali Manzil). It is to be noted here that Badshahnama did not furnish any detail of the place Sharifabad, not also the location of the place. So, many believe that, Shah Jahan occupied the palace by brute force and to save his face his sycophant chronicler Abdul Hamid Lahori, later on, fabricated the story exchange of land in the mythical place Sharifabad.
3.The Gift from a King.
(On) “Friday–15th Jamadi-ul Awwal, the sacred dead body of the traveller to the kingdom of Holiness, hazrat Mumtaz-ul Zamani–who was buried temporarily…. was brought to the capital Akbarabad (Agra)…
The site covered with magnificent lush garden, to the south of that great city and amidst which (garden) the building known as the palace of Raja Mansingh, at present owned by Raja Jaisingh (Pesh az ein Manzil-e Rajan Mansingh bood Wadaree Waqt ba Raja Jaisingh), grandson (of Mansingh) was selected for the burial of the queen whose abode is in heaven.
“Although Raja Jaisingh valued it greatly as his ancestral heritage and property, yet would have been agreeable to part with it gratis for the Emperor Shahjahan. (Still) out of sheer scrupulousness so essential in the matters of bereavement and religious sanctity, in exchange of that grand place, he was granted a piece of government land (Dar’ awaz aan aali Manzil-e az khalisa-e sharifah badoo marahmat farmoodand) after the arrival of the dead body in that great city on 15th Jamadul Soniya.
“Next year that illustrious body of the heavenly queen was laid to rest. The officials of the capital, according to the royal orders of the day, under the sky-high lofty mausoleum hid the pious lady from the eyes of the world, and the edifice so majestic and with a dome, and so lofty in its stature, is a memorial to the courage of sky-dimensions of the king–and a strength so mighty in resolution so firm–the foundation was laid and geomatricians of farsight and architects of talent incurred an expenditure of Rs. 40 lakhs (chihal lakh roopiah) on this building.”
“ It is explicitly stated that the “palace of Raja Mansingh was selected for the burial of the queen”. That it is no ordinary building is obvious as Raja Jaisingh “valued it greatly as his ancestral heritage and property”. And piece of government land was given in exchange of that great palace (aali manzil). The transaction was clinched only after the arrival of the dead body in Agra (which explains the presence of the Temporary Grave). The body was finally buried in the “sky-high lofty mausoleum” the following year (probably soon after the palace was suitably modified). And the subsequent decorations and calligraphical work upon the building cost Rs. 40 lakhs.
What is this grand palace?
Aurangzeb’s letter states.
Excerpts from the translation of the letter provided by M. S. Vats are quoted below:
“The dome of the holy tomb leaked in two places towards the north during the rainy season and so also the fair semi-domed arches, many of the galleries on the second storey, the four smaller domes, the four northern compartments and seven arched underground chambers which have developed cracks. During the rains last year the terrace over the main dome also leaked in two or three places. It has been repaired, but it remains to be seen during the ensuing rainy season how far the operations prove successful. The domes of the Mosque and the Jama’at Khana leaked during the rains…
“The master builders are of the opinion that if the roof of the second storey is reopened and dismantled and treated afresh with concrete, over which half a yard of mortar grout is laid the semi-domed arches, the galleries and the smaller domes will probably become watertight, but they are unable to suggest any measures of repairs to the main dome…”
The letter is eloquent enough. In 1652 AD, the dome of the holy tomb, the fair semi-domed arches, the four smaller domes and the domes of the Mosque and the Jama’at Khana all had developed serious defects. How does it compare with the supposed period of its construction 1631-53 AD?
And do the master builders of Shah Jahan who were “unable to suggest any measures of repairs to the main dome” appear to be the original architects of the edifice? Does it mean that the statement of Badshahnama, “Next year that illustrious body… was laid to rest… under the sky-high lofty mausoleum… with a dome” is literally true?