Contemporary court chronicles concerning Shah Jahan’s grief for the basis of the love story traditionally hold as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The construction work began after the death of Mumtaz in 1632 and was completed in 1648, though the adjoining areas were built five years later. Some controversy surrounds the question of who designed the Taj Mahal, but it has been largely accepted that a team of designers and craftsmen were responsible for the design with Ustad Ahmad Lahauri as the principal designer.
The Taj is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture-a style that combines elements of Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. While the white marble mausoleum is the most familiar part of the monument, the Taj is, in fact, an integrated complex of structures. Already a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Taj is cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world heritage estimates about the cost of construction of the Taj Mahal varies due to difficulties in estimating construction cost across time. The accepted cost has been estimated about 32 million rupees excluding the labour cost and the time period that was spent on it.
By the late 19th century, some parts of the Taj had fallen badly into disrepair. During the time of Indian Revolt of 1857, the Taj Mahal faced defacement by the British soldiers and government officials who chiselled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. In 1942, the government erected scaffolding over it in anticipation of an attack by German Luftwaffe, and later by the Japanese Air Force.
During the time of Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971? also the government erected scaffolding to save it from possible air attack. The most recent threat to the Taj, however, is from environmental pollution- precisely from the smoke that comes out of nearby factories. The Taj is a symbol of love and has stood for centuries as an embodiment of this most beautiful human emotion.
The Christ Redeemer is Art Deco-style statue of Jesus, which was inaugurated in 1931. It stands 38 metres (125 feet) tall, atop the Corcovado Mountain overlooking the Brazilian capital of Rio de Joneiro. A potent symbol of Christianity, the statue has become an icon of the city and a symbol of the great warmth of the Brazilian people. It was designed by the country’s renowned designer Heitor da Silva Costa.
The statue which took five years to build is made of reinforced concrete, with the outer layers made from soapstone because it is easy to work with and resistant to extreme weather. Created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, Christ Redeemer is one of world’s best-known monuments which have now become part of history by being included in the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Great Wall of China was built over 2200 years ago by the first emperor of the country, Qin Shi Huandi during the Qin dynasty in 220 BC. In Chinese the wall is called Wan Li Qang- Qeng which means 10,000 Li Long Wall. It was built to link existing fortifications into a united defence system and keeps the invading Mongol tribes out of China.
The Great Wall of China is the largest building construction project ever created. It is said that it is the only man-made structure that would be visible from the moon. It stretches across the mountains of northern China, winding north and northwest of Beijing. It is constructed of masonry rocks and packed earth. It is about 5,000 km long, with thickness ranging from 4.5 to 9 metres, and height up to 7.5 metres. During the Ming Dynasty, the wall was enlarged to 6,400 km.
The Colosseum (the Flavian Amphitheatre) is one of the most famous buildings of Rome and enduring monuments to the culture of the ancient Romans. The construction was initiated by the Emperor Vespasian around 72 AD. His son Titus resigned over its completion and official opening ceremonies, about eight years later in 80 AD. It was built near the site of Nero’s Domus Aurea ‘Golden House’.
This is significant because Nero’s successor Vespasian wanted to erase the memory of Nero’s extravagant reign from the minds of the Romans. It got its popular name, the colosseum because of Nero’s Colossus (120 ft high) statue of himself.
The huge theatre was originally built encompassing four floors. The first three had arched entrances while the fourth floor utilised rectangular doorways. The colosseum had a total spectator capacity of about 50,000.
Petra of Jordan is another of the seven wonders. It is an archaeological site lying in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah-large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. On the edge of Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabotean Empire of King Arctas-IV.
Petra is famous for having many stone structures carved into the rock. The long-hidden site was revealed to the western world by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. It was famously described as “a rose red city half as old as time”. It was designated as UNESCO as one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.
Another of the seven wonders is the sacred city of Itza, called Chichen Itza. It is located in Maya, 75 miles east of Merida, the capital of the State of Yucatan, Mexico. This archeological site is rated among the most important of the Maya Culture manifestations. It covers an area of approximately six square miles where hundreds of buildings once stood. Now most of them are mounds, though thirty of them may still be seen by tourists.
The ruins are divided into two groups. One group belongs to the Classic Maya Period and was built between 7th and 10th centuries AD. The other group corresponds to the Maya-Teltec Period, from the later part of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century AD. This area includes the Sacred Well, and most of the outstanding ruins.
Finally, the ruins of Machu Picchu, rediscovered in 1911 by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham, are the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the world. While the Inca people certainly used the Andean mountain top (9060 feet elevation), erecting many hundreds of stone structures from early 14th century. Legends and myths indicate that Machu Picchu (means Old Peak) was reserved as a sacred place from a far earlier time. One of its functions was that of astronomical observatory.
These new seven wonders of the world are the most popular sites in the world. Millions of tourists go to see them every year. The inclusion of Taj Mahal-the most photographed monument in the world has enhanced India’s prestige and glory.