Jamia students rediscover the Black Taj

History remembered

To mark the World Heritage Day, the architecture and ekistics department of Jamia Millia Islamia recently held a two-day programme on the ‘Black Taj Mahal: Myth and Manifestation.’

The programme included a lecture series and panel discussions by various eminent historians. The focal attraction, though, remained the miniature model of the Black Taj created by artist IN Khan, and photographs of the white Taj taken by various students and faculty members.

The model which was awarded by president Shankar Dayal Sharma in 1985, attracted many history enthusiasts to Jamia’s programme. The fable of the black Taj Mahal has raised a lot of interest among historians worldwide.

It is said that Shahjahan wanted to build a Taj Mahal in black marble opposite the white Taj. This was supposed to be situated on the other side of Yamuna and some black marble found on the site is cited as proof of the plan which Shahjahan supposedly had in mind.

Also, the fact that Shajahan’s own cenotaph is placed haphazardly in the chamber where Mumtaz’s remains lie, is also cited as evidence that he wanted to place his own body in the black Taj Mahal.

Professor SM Akhtar, HoD Architecture and Ekistics, says, “The Taj is cited as one of the greatest architectural wonders. The black Taj would have also been a beauty of equal proportions if its construction could have been completed, some historians believe. Therefore, our department decided to take up this subject as a theme.

“There are many historical and artistic details of the white Taj which very few people are aware of – even fewer know about the black Taj. To bridge this knowledge gap as well, we felt the need to have seminars and panel discussions on the same.”

The students, on the other hand, enjoyed the various arguments in support of and against the myth of the black Taj Mahal. Shamik Ranjan Laskar, a IIIrd year student of Bachelor of Architecture says, “It is indeed fascinating to try and re-create what a man had imagined a 1000 years ago. He couldn’t complete the ode to his dead wife as his son Aurangzeb imprisoned him but the legacy (and the intrigue) lives on.”

His classmate Abhishek Mukherjee adds, “I was most fascinated by IN Khan’s model. It is 3 feet by 3 feet in pure ebony and looks beautiful. I would say, it is another work of passion and love, after the white Taj Mahal.”   

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