Taj Gang Agra History
Taj Ganj and Bad are the popular suffix used with the names of localities during the Islamic regime in India. Similarly present Taj Ganj area in the vicinity of Taj Mahal is most often searched by the tourists and historians. Tourists are in search of good hotels of Taj Ganj and the scholars in search of scattered ruined monuments in the close proximity to the Taj Mahal – such as Deevan ji begum ka makbara, Haathi khana etc. Have you ever wondered that the modern Taj ganj was once called Mumtazabad.
A project called Taj Mahal, how it was concieved how it was put in to black and white. There are so many things which today are not known. People visit Taj Mahal but very few know that area around Taj Mahal has been vitally connected with Taj Mahal. without Taj Ganj Taj Mahal was never possible.
Taj Mahal in Taj Ganj
Lets go bark to the times when Taj Mahal was not built. The city of Agra started from the precincts of the Agra fort beyond Agra fort on the banks of river Yamuna were a series of river side bagh (gardens) one such spot to the south of river Yamuna was owned by the Rajah of Jaipur. The river takes a conscIpicous turn towards east just before this spot then running for few hundred meters The river again turns towards north forming a u shape. This place was selected for construction of the Taj Mahal. The area was gradually sloping towards the river Yamuna this is a normal characteristic of the land around river Yamuna. The construction of the monument started right on the banks of river Yamuna where large walls were being dug. Just as the construction started not very far from the construction an area was very fast developing a city of masons, a city of artisans, a city of stone carvers. This area is even today in existence it is called Taj Ganj. Without this area the Taj Mahal would never have been built. As the wells were being dug the bricks kilns around the proposed site came in to existence. The chimneys of these kilns started fuming ,the labor toiled day in and day out forming the “ Kakkaiya” mughal bricks. This labor used to live in Taj ganj. The small city of Taj ganj was now a walled city with security gates. The colony had segregated makaan and mohallas classifies in the category of people living in them.
Construction of The Taj Mahal
It is said around 20000 people were involved in the grand construction project of the Taj Mahal, apart from the people who were directly involved in the project there were the mahauts of the elephants transporting the marble from makrana a distance of around 400 kms from the site of Taj Mahal. Ever wondered without cement what was used to fuse the bricks together at the Tajmahal?. Well, mortar the ancient cement was used to fuse the bricks together. Making mortar was a pains taking process first the lime was transported from Rajasthan, this area around 100kms from Jodhpur is even now famous for lime stone mines. The lime extracted from the mines was transported using the bullock carts and camel carts. The camel cart wallahs and bullock cart wallahs after delivering the load rested for a while at the Tajganj. The lime was roasted in the kilns before being crushed under stones and continuously mowed for few days under the rolling heavy stone. The stone was pulled by bullocks. The result of this tedious process was the mortar, it was used to weld and fuse the bricks together in the Taj Mahal.
The heavy white marble slabs after being dug from the mines of Makrana were transported to the Tajganj area using the huge elephant carts. The slabs of marble were cut by the stone cutters using steel wires and a huge bow. Today this tedious process is made simple by the engine and electricity powered gang saws but in those days the humans did the job with muscle power. The finished stones of marble were numbered and then transported to the place of construction just imagine the expertise of these stone cutters who were able to keep the thickness of marble unanimous. Just imagine now long they toiled to make this monument alive.
Old Colonies of Taj Mahal
These stone cutters, the masons, the brick makers they all lived together with their families in separate areas, these respective areas were called the Katras. Even today the Tajganj has these Katras as the official address. Resham Katra, Katra Fulel, Katra Jogidas,and Katra Umar are names of the katras of Tajganj still in existence.
As work was in full swing there was a Katra in Tajganj where the job of “Pachi Kari” was being done. The art of” Pachi kari” is known to have arrived from Florence in Italy where it was called “Pietre dura”. In comparison to the stone cutters job which was masculine and required raw power along with the skill. The art of inlay or the Pachi Kari was a more feminine job where delicate skills were required to design the delicate petals and sepals of the flowers and plants depicted using colored stones. The colored stones also called semi precious stones are said to be sourced from far off places, lapis lazuli a dark blue stone was imported from the then Afghanistan. The flowers of iris have been made alive by the inlay workers using lapis lazuli, Cornelian an orange coloured stone has been used to depict the petals of marigold. An array of these stones have been used to make poppy flowers.
How Taj Mahal was Built?
As the structure was shaping up it was becoming difficult to transport the construction material to the required height. The answer to this engineering problem was found and a wooden ramp was designed and laid. This ramp was so huge that elephants could easily scale the ramp. A distance of more than one and half kilometer was the span of the wooden ramp. This place where the wooden ramp ended was called “Gobar Chowki”.
As the Taj Mahal was rising in height the scaffolding surrounding the structure was also rising. It is said that when the construction was complete the king stood in front of the Taj Mahal but scaffolding was so huge and profound that very less of the Taj Mahal was visible. The king then made a public anouncement “Munaadi” was done and any one from the public was allowed to take away the part of scaffolding and within days the people of Agra cleared the scaffolding. The Taj Mahal was shining bright. The elephants used in the project lived in an adjacent area called Haathi Khana. Every elephant had a trainer called as Mahaut, the huge animal was always in control of the Mahaut respecting all the directions. The elephant and the mahouts and their families lived in Hathi Khana. The Taj Mahal was not actually separate from the Tajganj area. The prople of Tajganj used to spend their time sitting under the huge trees of the Taj Mahal forecourt. The forecourt was also very much used as a sarai by the carawans staying over here for days. The wells were there in forecourt the markets were there in Tajganj.
How Did Taj Ganj Become Trade Center?
On account of its location of close proximity to the river Yamuna, it emerged as a great center of trade. As it was a big habitat of artisans, the dealers found good chance to trade over here. Here weekly and monthly bazaars used to take place. Later on these markets areas emerged as mandis like Gurihai Mandi, Dalihai and Bakarwal mandi, during the british regime this place used to witness it at on Monday and Fridays.
Since the epoch of Akbar the great Agra and Lahore used to play a pivotal role in trade and commerce. In the markets Pashmina shawls, carpets, cotton, muslin, spices etc were sold. The Mandi system of Agra and other Mughal places was very strong and the special inspectors were appointed to inspect the adultery and forged weight. Akbar also started Ganj and Hai and this tradition flourished during the entire mughal period.
Hais were such places where weekly , monthly and fort night bazaars used to take place and the Ganj were the biggest centers of storage having large gowdons and bare houses. Thus in the present Taj ganj are lots of buildings of tradesmen were erected and prominent were a palaces. So this area beforehand was known as “Nau Mahal”. later on during the shahjahan’s time it came to be known as Mumtaz Ganj and after the completion of Taj Mahal , it came to be known as Taj ganj.