Place

Taj Mahal Bhopal

Believe it or not, apart from a Shahjehan, Bhopal also has a Taj mahal. Taj Mahal palace stretches across the entire northern side of Motia talab with its central courtyards including the grounds of Bab-e-ali. The grounds could also be approached from the west through a highly ornamental three-bayed entrance that is higher in the center with cusped arched opening topped with a pediment. The entrance gate is a strange square structure of Palladian style mixed with Islamic elements. Semi-circular arches, circular pillars, pediments and plain facade is punctured centrally with cusped arch opening that appears strangely foreign in the flat elevation. The entire treatment finds a parallel in the basement of the Diwan-e-Aam of Taj Mahal Palace. The flat flagstone roof of the gate is supported on iron girders that rest on Lakhuri bricks. The entrance leads to a ground that was used for festivals, ladies club and other occasions. Today it is a cricket stadium with huge interventions in concrete.
The most spectacular constructions of all times is the cascading waters of the three tanks, Motia Talab, Noor Mahal Talab and Hussain Baksh Ki Talaiya, built at descending heights of 15 m each. Kaiser embankment of Motia talab, was also fitted with rails that connected the Taj Mahal to Noor Mahal and on which plied the saloon of the Begum. True to their legendary nature, Bhopalis named the saloon thela and the road is still called thele wali sadak by the locals! The water tanks were part of the larger water system of Bhopal where the waters harvested went through hammams and chaddars of the palaces around it and watered the charbaghs within. The waters from the natural springs of Jharnewala bagh were transported by canals to Motia talab and after cascading into the Patra nala some distance away joining the larger water system of Betwa and Yamuna near Lalitpur.
Covering the entire north side of Motia Talab, the Taj Mahal Palace was the political center during Nawab Shajehan Begum who stayed here amidst beautiful water bodies and green char-baghs. Inward looking, the interiors consist of residential quarters around large courtyards approachable through five highly embellished double storied gateways that punctuate the external high blank wall. One of them is rectangular, the rest are octagonal. The main entrance way is however towards the east. This seven-storied structure is the grandest entrance to any structure of Bhopal. The forty-five feet clear span done acted as a porch for the alighting of Shahjehan Begum in the purdah and could accommodate the turning of a chariot drawn by seven horses within. The rectangular plan of the palace revolved around a large central rectangular courtyard with its water bodies and charbaghs. The single storied red-sandstone square, colonnade, central piece is sculpted for falling and gushing waters that is enhanced by blue ceramic tiles probably imported from England. South side of the central courtyard opens towards the Motia talab from where the cool winds were directed inside through cooling ducts of the basement of Diwan-e-Aam. The Deewan-e-Aam itself was embellished with mirror works and exquisite stucco work and roofed with stone slabs on timber rafters all polished in black.
Lying in ruins, Taj Mahal palace is now a protected monument and conservation work by the Madhya Pradesh government is under way.

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