'The Taj Mahal is a poem in marble, a romantic conception of heavenly beauty on earth.' Give a critical account of its architecture and picturesque setting to bring out its two aspects mentioned in the above quotation.

Published: May 1, 2016

Taj Mahal is a living monument of the perfect synthesis of the Islamic and Indian styles of architecture. The master-piece of Shah Jahan’s art remains the Taj Mahal at Agra, begun bythe prince in 1646 as a tomb for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and completed in 1653.
It is a poem in marble, a romantic conception of heavenly beauty on earth. It is unique in the world for the abiding impression it leaves on the beholder’s mind. The Taj is a joy forever and for any imaginative visitor, a rare aesthetic experience. It is located on the bank of Jamuna at Agra, in a rectangular enclosure aligned north and south. The main tomb occupying the centre is placed on a platform with four cylindrical minarets at the corners, rising in three stages and topped by graceful kiosks. The white marble tomb in the centre of the platform is surmounted by a great bulbous dome resplendent like a giant pearl under the moonlit sky. The four corners of the tomb’s building are beautified by two-storeyed wings topped by four cupolas, which gradually lead the eye along the bulge of the dome to its top. A fascinating feature, and also an integral part of the planning is the garden with its water channels, lotus pools, colourful flower beds and trees. The monument fully mirrors the deep adoration of Shah Jahan for the feminine beauty enshrined inside. The building was designed by a Persian named Ustad Isa, and the rich talents of Indian workmen contributed to the realisation of the royal dream.
The Taj Mahal at Agra stands as a creation of superb beauty and magnificence not only in Mughal architecture but in Indian architecture as a whole.

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