The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most recognizable structures. The UNESCO heritage site is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World — alongside the Great Wall of China and Petra in Jordan. But the Taj Mahal is one of the newer World Wonders on the list, having been commissioned in 1632. For this reason, its admirers are often surprised to find out that nobody actually knows who designed it.
A Design of Its Time
The Story of the Taj Mahal
While historians know that Shah Jahan was very interested in architecture, he could not have designed the building himself — it was almost certainly designed by a team of world-class professionals, and that could be one of the reasons why their names are lost to history while Shah Jahan’s remains most closely tied to the mausoleum. Shah Jahan may have been interested in promoting the building as part of his imperial legacy and a testament to the loss of his beloved rather than a work of art to be appreciated independent of those factors.
So Who Designed It?
With a team like this, it’s likely that Shah Jahan acted in the capacity of something like an artistic director, gathering various world-renowned experts and giving them specific tasks to perform according to his own project schedule. More than 20,000 workers from throughout India, Europe, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire contributed to the construction of the Taj Mahal, alongside 1,000 elephants performing heavy lifting duties. Whether or not one person designed it, the final product was certainly a group effort.