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.
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.