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Taj Mahal, By Giles Tillotson
Friday 15 January 2010
In 1631, empress Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to the 14th child of Shah Jahan. Plunged into "profound and long" grief, the Mughal emperor planned a tomb for her in Agra.
Swiftly built, combining the local architectural breakthroughs of structures such as Humayun's tomb in Delhi with sumptuous decoration that included the pietra dura of Italy, the result became perhaps the best loved building on Earth. How, and why?
Tillotson addresses the Taj's life and afterlife with panache and precision. He takes its story from Mughal times through Raj restorations into the age of Lego models, Bollywood sets – and lonely Diana on that bench.
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