The Taj Mahal’s Great Gate

AGRA, India — At the entrance to the 42-acre Taj Mahal complex in which one of the most famous buildings in the world sits is a red sandstone building known as Darwaza-i Rauza, “Gate of the Mausoleum,” or as it’s commonly known, the Great Gate.

Four octagonal towers sit at the corners of the building, each sporting a white marble dome.

Similar to the writings found at the Taj Mahal, the main archway was inscribed with stylized calligraphy — comprising black marble inlaid into white — attributed to Abd ul-Haq of Shiraz, Iran, who migrated to India in 1609 and was awarded the title “Amanat Khan” by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

It bears the inscription, “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.”

The Taj Mahal website writes:

The main entrance is framed in rectangular with sura 89 of the Qur’an, namely al-Fajr (daybreak) inviting the believers into the Paradise. The Gate does not have an outer dome. The miniature eleven domes (cupolas) between the two high columns namely guldastas, framing the entrance from the base are the topping features above the entrance. The northern entrance from the funerary garden is ornamented with another sura of the Qur’an as the only difference. The calligrapher, Amanat Khan’s signature is at the bottom left end of the frame dated Hijri 1057 (AD 1647/48).

A remarkable building in itself and a fine example of Islamic architecture, the Great Gate likely doesn’t get the respect it warrants due to its sister structure to the north, the Taj Mahal.

The Great Gate greets visitor at the Taj Mahal. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)

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