Ustad Ahmad Lahawri
Agra, India. Moghul India (1526 - 1857))
The Taj Mahal Gateway
White Marble inlaid with semi-precious designs
93 ft high
The gateway is just one element among others, such as the dome and tomb room, displaying significant Hindu motifs on the Taj Mahal. It is an imposingly tall niche doorway in the shape of an ogival arch, and is half the height of the entire Taj Mahal. Like the Taj Mahal as a whole, the gateway has vertical symmetry. Above the sloping sides of the niche are interlaced flowers, leaves, and vines formed by semi-precious stones inlaid in the marble, the preponderance being red lotus flowers. They are idealized and a model of perfection in nature. Arabic calligraphy of verses from the Qu'ran made of black stone border the gateway. Located above the pointed tip of the niche is the image of a white teardrop in which is a red trident. At the ime of its construction, this frontal gateway functioned as the main entrance into the Taj Mahal.
The gateway is a structure that is of great importance because of its function and size as compared to the whole building. The fact that the flowers, vines, and leaves are sinuous and idealized rather than geometric proves that they have had a Hindu influence on them. The flowers themselves are, for the majority, red lotus flowers, a Hindu motif representing Brahma the Creator, and commonly found on Hindu temples (Symbols We Live With). Finally, the white teardrop containing a red trident is found on most Hindu temples because it is a symbol of Lord Shiva Ganesha Statues.) The great presence of these Hindu motifs on the front gateway of the Taj Mahal as well as on other parts of the building suggests that the Taj Mahal is as much a Hindu monument as it is an Islamic mausoleum. Other parts of the Taj Mahal that possess Hindu motifs as well are the dome and the tomb room.