(as per sign)
The Taj Mosque & Jam’at Khanah (1631-48)
The Taj Mosque is built on a raised platform on the western side of the main, white marble tomb and its exact replica is there on its eastern side, in perfect symmetry. The eastern building is called ‘Jamat-Khanah’ or ‘Mehman-Khanah’. It is noteworthy that, more than fulfilling the need of a house of prayer and a house of assembly, these identical buildings flank the main tomb effectively and help to present the white marble monument in an aesthetic setting and thus do they form an integral part of the Taj design.
The façade of the mosque is composed of a central iwan, flanked on either side by a single arch entrance of almost half the dimensions. Ornamental arches have been framed above these side arches. Octagonal towers attached to the corners are surmounted by octagonal chhatris, while the turrets attached to the quoins of the iwan and side arches are crowned by pinnacles. The interior is composed of three bays which are roofed by three bulbous domes, the central one on the nave being larger. Padmakosh and kalash finials have been used to crown them as usual. The domes, chhatris and pinnacles combine to make up a beautiful superstructure. Dados have carved naturalistic plant designs. The rest of the mural space, including the ceiling, is either paneled to bear ornamental cartouches, or finished with incised painting in red and white colours, in highly stylized designs. Though it is built of red sandstone, white marble has been used on a large scale, e.g. on the domes and cupolas of the chhatris, and in the spandrels of the arches inlaid with rare polychrome stones. The total effect is simple, yet graceful.
The Jam’at-Khanah on the eastern side is exactly similar to the mosque except that it does not have a mihrab (central niche denoting the direction of the Ka’bah), minbar (pulpit), musallas (arched spaces marked in the pavement), zenana (ladies) seciont enclosed by marble railing, quranic inscription, or tank (hauz) in its front. But it has a curious historical record made in stone. At the northern end of its platform, in its front, is inlaid by black marble, an exact replica of the Kalash finial which crowned the main dome of the Taj Mahal. It measures 30 feet 6 inch in length and the width of the crescent is 5 feet 4.5 inch. The present finial measures 32 feet and 5.5 inch. The original, thick gold plated kalash measured 30 feet 6 inches. It was replaced by Captain Joseph Taylor in 1810. The second one was again replaced in 1876 by a finial which measured 32 feet. The third one was replaced in 1940 and the present on is thus, the fourth finial in succession. The replica of the finial was made on the platform of the Jam’at-Khanah by Nathjram in 1888 as a memorial to the original finial. It is remarkable that both these are monumental buildings capable of standing independently anywhere else.