Lesson Plan - Get It!
Can you guess what famous structure required 1000 elephants and approximately 22,000 laborers to construct?
For the answer to this question, take a closer look at the image above. Do you recognize the building? If you guessed that it is the Taj Mahal, then you are absolutely correct!
The Taj Mahal is a very famous mausoleum located on the banks of the Yamuna River in Agra, India.
Mausoleums are buildings containing a burial tomb or tombs. This particular mausoleum was built as a special monument by a very powerful emperor during the 17th century. Today, the Taj Mahal is considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, and it is also one of India's most famous tourist attractions.
Some more facts
- The name Taj Mahal means "crown of palaces."
- In 1632, Emperor Shah Jhan of the Mughal Empire constructed the Taj Mahal as the final resting place for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Emperor Jhan loved his wife very much and was very sad when she died. As a way to remember and honor her, he ordered the construction of a grand monument in her name: the Taj Mahal. After his death, Emperor Jhan was also entombed in the Taj Mahal.
- The Taj Mahal is constructed of white marble and has a large round dome at the top of the main structure. In architecture, this type of dome is often referred to as an "onion dome" because it is shaped like an onion.
- The architectural style of the Taj Mahal is a cultural mixture of Indian, Islamic, and Persian influences. To create this monument, skilled workers, including artists, masons, and builders, were brought in from all across Asia to help with the construction.
- The interior and exterior of the building are decorated with calligraphy, intricate carvings, and semi-precious and precious stones.
Now, about those elephants!
Think about the types of technology that did and did not exist during this particular time. Consider that during the 17th century, engineers and construction workers did not have the types of modern equipment that we do today. They did, however, have elephants — lots and lots of elephants. You may already know that elephants are very strong, intelligent animals, and were often used in many cultures to carry heavy loads. In fact, it is believed that more than 1000 elephants were used in the construction of the Taj Mahal. Now that's a lot of "ele-lifting"!
Building the Taj Mahal took more than twenty-two thousand (22,000) workers and over twenty years (20) to complete. If construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, can you estimate what year it was completed? If you answered 1653, your estimation skills are spot on!
Here are a few more questions to think about:
- After so many years, why do you think the Taj Mahal still stands today?
- Do you think it was necessary for Emperor Jhan to build such an elaborate monument?
- Do you think he could have conveyed his feelings with something less grand?
Share your thoughts with your parent or instructor before moving on to the Got It? section.