In 1631 Shah Jahan was grief stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child. In her dying breath Mumtaz urged Shah Jahan to build a mausoleum for her that the world had never seen before. Shah Jahan granted his wife’s wish and in 1632 construction of the Taj Mahal began. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648. The surrounding buildings and garden were completed five years later.
Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should the guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs,
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory