The Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful and mystic wonders of the world today, has an extremely rich history to it. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, it is a masterpiece of architecture and art.

Originally, the Taj was to be built for Shah Jahan's wife, Mumtaz. The original plan was to build the existing Taj for Mumtaz, and build an identical structure next to it, only in black marble, for himself. The two were then to be connected by a silver bridge, symbolizing their love. However, since the original taj took over 22 years and a massive amount of money to build, his sons were a little distraught, and wound up deposing Shah Jehan in order to preserve some money as well as for numerous other reasons. So today, the foundation for the black taj still exists, but the structure was never built.

Another interesting fact is that the Mughal gardens of the Taj are highly symbolic and reflective of the legendary gardens of Paradise in Islamic scripture, divided into four categories. The gardens only exist in ruins today, but there is effort by the Indian Government to restore these majestic gardens. The four gardens were supposed to represent heaven on earth, with the center being the Taj complex, and Shah Jehan and his wife as manifested deities. Needless to say, Jehan had a little superiority complex.

The last bit of legend, (don't know if it's true) relating to the Taj is that Shah Jehan was so marveled by his accomplishment, and so protective of it, that he didn't want anything ever close replicated, he had the head architect's hands cut off. The architect was very very pissed off. So he drilled a hole into the dome, and later said to the Shah, now your masterpiece is flawed forever.

Taj Mahal is a master of finger-picking country blues, bluegrass banjo, slide guitar, southern blues, soul, R&B, reggae, music of Hawaii, the Caribbean, and more.

Emerging from the folk music scene of the early 1960's, Taj established himself as an artist who knew no boundaries. Along the way, he played a pivotal role in the mid-'60s blues revival and went on to make his mark in the worlds of rock, soul, world music, and blues.

Taj Mahal has recorded 40 records during his career-six of which were Grammy-nominated (2 won). His passion for music goes back to his earliest days. The oldest of nine children, Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Claire Fredericks) grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, in a home filled with music. His mother was a gospel-singing school teacher, and his father a Jamaican composer/arranger and avid jazz fan.

"My father had this old Firestone radio with a short-wave band. I could listen to London, Rio, Havana, Kingston, Moscow, all around the world, and I could hear people's souls through their music."

As an adolescent, Taj explored the roots of American blues and other forms of music filtered through the black experience in America. He idolized such pioneers as Jimmy Reed, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Big Mama Thornton, Sleepy John Estes, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny Terry, and others. During 1961-63, he had an R&B band called Taj Mahal and the Elektras and was performing in Boston coffeehouses and college mixers. After earning his degree in agriculture and animal husbandry from the University of Massachusetts in 1964, he emerged professionally the following year as co-founder with guitarist Ry Cooder of The Rising Sons. This led to a recording contract for Taj, who quickly rose to prominence with his first solo albums, Taj Mahal (1968), The Natch'l Blues (1968), and Giant Step (1969).

Over subsequent years, Taj toured, recorded and/or performed with other great artists, including Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B.King, John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Bob Marley, the Pointer Sisters, the Neville Brothers and the Rolling Stones. In 1968, Taj was a featured guest in the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus - a remarkable event, which was released on video and record for the first time after an almost 30-year wait, that showcased the cream of the music community including John Lennon, George Harrison, Jethro Tull, The Who, and Marianne Faithfull.

A self-taught musician, Taj plays over 20 instruments, including the National Steel and Dobro guitars, and his remarkable voice ranges from gruff and gravelly to smooth and sultry. His music remains a well-seasoned gumbo, spiced with influences that originate in the Caribbean, West Africa, the southern states, and the inner-cities of America.

In addition to his regular work, Taj has acted in films and composed motion picture scores. Among the esteemed titles he has been associated with are Phenomenon, The Mighty Quinn, Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored, Sounder I and II, The Man Who Broke A Thousand Chains, Scott Joplin - King of Ragtime and the Wynton Marsalis-scored Pulitzer Prize winning epic, Rosewood. He also wrote the Grammy-nominated score for the Broadway production Mule Bone, based on a play by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Taj has also recorded several Grammy-nominated children's albums and provided voices for popular cartoon characters, such as "Sage," from the , The Blues Brothers animated series.

Discography:

BEST OF TAJ MAHAL 2nd Edition 2000
SHOUTIN' IN KEY 2000
KULANJAN 1999
SACRED ISLAND 1997
SEÑOR BLUES 1997
PHANTOM BLUES 1996
AN EVENING OF ACOUSTIC MUSIC 1996
MUMTAZ MAHAL 1995
DANCING THE BLUES 1993
WORLD MUSIC 1993
SMILIN' ISLAND OF SONG 1992
RISING SONS 1992
TAJ'S BLUES 1992
RISING SUN COLLECTION 1992
LIKE NEVER BEFORE 1991
MULEBONE 1991
BRER' RABBIT 1990
HOTSPOT SOUNDTRACK 1990
BIG BLUES 1988
LIVE AND DIRECT 1987
SHAKE SUGAREE 1987
TAJ 1986
BEST OF #1 1981
EVOLUTION 1977
MUSIC FUH YUH 1977
MUSIC KEEPS ME TOGETHER 1975
MO' ROOTS 1974
OOOH SO GOOD 'N BLUES 1973
RECYCLING THE BLUES 1972
HAPPY JUST LIKE I AM1971
THE REAL THING 1971
BROTHERS 1971
GIANT STEP 1969
THE NATCH'L BLUES 1968
TAJ MAHAL 1968

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info for this node was taken and edited from www.taj-mo-roots.com

I
am some kind of centre
echo vacuum where sound cyclones
an eye behind black glass
a girl on her birthday, shaking
as the animals charge from their cages
a boy swaying in the treetop
summer wind, raincloud chic
a wave in a clear medium
a smile full of smiles

I bring
the giant's gold down from the cloud castle
so naive, sold on magic
carrying my riches in a satchel
appleseed and honest water
heart and brain pierced by an icicle
calling for my sister,
dead and buried in the belly of a wolf

I bring the sky
in between my toes,
under my fingernails, in my hair
all by accident, I never know where I go
a grinning face in a crazed mirror
shards of the shattered air
a jigsaw for a fevered brain
a dance of numbers, archetypes
around a hole in reality

I bring the sky and the earth
with me to the palace door:
orange sun on the becalmed sea,
a road between the darkness and the light
unfinished, mapped and wished for
in the mad dreams of Shah Jahan,
sick with love for Mumtaz, eating death
in small bites, like a handful of rice
no lover, no kingdom, no freedom
he loves her, always will, forever

I bring the sky and the earth together


This is original work
Taj Mahal is also a song by brazilian singer Jorge Ben Jor. It's probably one of the most popular samba/pop songs of the 70s and it's a sure way to get a party going. It first appeared on the album "Ben" in 1972.

Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te.
Foi a mais linda história de amor oh oh que até hoje eu já ouvi contar
Do amor do príncipe Shaj Jahan pela princesa Muntaz Mahal
Do amor do príncipe Shaj Jahan pela princesa Muntaz Mahal
Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taja Mahal
O monumento em homenagem ao amor construído em 1040 no ano égira para a sua amada Muntaz Mahal
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te...

Translation:

Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te.
It was the most beautiful love story oh oh that i've ever heard
About the love of prince Shaj Jahan for princess Muntaz Mahal
About the love of prince Shaj Jahan for princess Muntaz Mahal
Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal, Taja Mahal
The monument in hommage to love, built in 1040, the year of the hegira, to his beloved Muntaz Mahal
Te te teterete, te te terete, te te terete te te...

History

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan between in the 17th century (There seems to be dispute as to exactly when) for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal at the height of the Mughal Empire. Its name means "crown palace". Shah Jahan was then deposed by his son, Aurangzeb and imprisoned in the Red Fort at Agra. He is now buried in the Taj Mahal alongside his wife. Several myths exist about the Taj, including:

  • As well as the white Taj, Shah Jahan planned to build a black Taj for himself on the other side of the river, joined by a silver or interlaced black and white marble bridge (depending on which version you hear). This may be true, and is certainly made more believable by the presence of the start of some constructions on the other side of the river.
  • When the Taj was complete, the workmen refused to take the scaffolding away, so Jahan announced that the scaffolding was free to take to the citizens of Agra. The scaffolding went within a day.
  • When the Taj was complete, Shah Jahan cut of the hands of the architect to prevent him outdoing his masterpiece. In retaliation the architect drilled a hole in the dome so that it was flawed.

Architecture of the Taj

The Taj itself is possibly the most perfect building on the planet, built out of the translucent white marble from Agra. Technically it has a number of interesting features: it was built on several water-filled wells, which are designed to serve as "shock absorbers" in the case of an earthquake, and the four corner towers are actually tilted slightly outwards, so that if they did fall down, they wouldn't damage the main Taj. The white marble is decorated with thousands of semiprecious stones inlaid using techniques unique to Agra. The dome of the Taj is itself two domes, a large outer one and a smaller, inner one which prevents the inside of the mausoleum feeling out of proportion. The entire complex is symmetrical, which the notable exception of Shah Jahan's tomb. Other things to note are the extracts from the Koran which decorate the main doorways: they are engraved so that their boldness increases as though go up, reducing dramatically the effect of perspective on them. Aesthetically the Taj is fantastic, as well as the beautiful inlaid designs, perfectly proportioned architecture and cunning design, Agra marble is a beautiful, translucent substance that dramatically alters its appearance depending on the light: apparently the Taj at sunrise and sunset looks completely different. Photos do not do it justice.

Seeing the Taj

The Taj Mahal is located close to Agra, and can be reached from Delhi by train or car, though travel will be slow and may take several hours. As the Taj Mahal is India's premier tourist attraction, it is now continually crowded, even by Indian standards. It is best to go as early in the morning as possible, both as there will be fewer people and as a sunrise on the Taj is said to be magnificent. However you arrive in Agra, it is relatively cheap to get an auto rickshaw to drive you there, although you will initially be asked for a ridiculous price. For entry you will have to pay the comparatively expensive non-Indians price: about $5 which is exorbitant compared to the Indians price of about 50 rupees. By this point you will have been assaulted by the two main species of Taj parasite: tour guides and picture takers. Both can be useful, but remember that they are used to fleecing tourists, so haggling is essential. Be careful with both, and remember that you only have to pay to enter at the gate, whatever they may claim. If you visit during the day, the crowds round the actual Taj are incredible, particularly the people lining up to be photographed on the famous Taj bench (almost every set of holiday photos of the Taj has a picture from here). After visiting the Taj be careful of the auto-rickshaw drivers: they are almost certain to take you to their "uncle's" marble shop to try and get you to buy something.

Taj Ma*hal" (täj mahäl"). [Corruption of Per. Mumtaz-i-Mahal, lit., the distinguished one of the palace, fr. Ar.]

A marble mausoleum built at Agra, India, by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his favorite wife. In beauty of design and rich decorative detail it is one of the best examples of Saracenic architecture.

 

© Webster 1913.

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