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Mosque & Rest House


Mosque on the west side of Tai Mahal
On either side of the Tai Mahal are buildings of red sandstone. The one to the west is a Mosque. It faces towards Mecca and is used for prayer. Before we have a look at the mosque, let us take note of a small stone enclosure along the western boundary wall where the well of the Mosque is located. This greenery shaded structure, measuring 19 ft. by 6.5 ft. marks the site where the remains of Mumtaz Mahal were deposited when first brought to Agra. From this temporary grave they were removed to their present place of internment in the mausoleum.

On the outside the Mosque has pietra dura work twining across its spandrels. The platform in front of the Mosque is of red sandstone. A highly polished small marble piece is so fitted that it serves as a mirror and one can see the mausoleum reflected in it. The floor is of a material which is exceedingly fine and sparkling and appears velvet red in shade. On that 539 prayer carpets have been neatly marked out with black marble. All over there is exquisite calligraphy and the name Allah and quotations from scriptures inscribed. The roof supports 4 octagonal towers and 3 elegant domes. On either side of the Mosque, to the north and south, and set along and upon the enclosure wall, there are two towers.

Taj Mahal AgraThe Jawab, on the east side of Thaj Mahal
On the east side of the Thaj Mahal stands the twin of the Mosque, a parallel structure also made of red sandstone, referred to as the jawab, or "answer". Because it faced away from the Mecca, it was never used for prayer. Its presence there has always been something of an enigma. Was it a caravanserai for pilgrims, or a meeting hall before the faithful gathered before prayer? More p lausible is the theory that its purpose was purely architectural, to counterbalance the Mosque and preserve the symmetry of the entire design on the platform.

The jawab is similar to the Mosque. However, it does not contain the accessories which go with a mosque, and, instead of Koranic inscriptions, there are beautiful flower designs and other decoration effectively done in white marble on the red sandstone background. On the floor between the building and the mausoleum there is a full size reproduction of the pinnacle adorning the Tadj Mahal. This gives some idea of the true proportions (31 ft.) of what from below appears to be a tiny thing.

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