simplistic european approach in defining Taj Mahal architecture and its re evaluation?

Mar 2019
Taj mahal architecture is frequently declared ‘’Persian’’ and in some videos the western scholars were claiming that taj mahal was straight out of foreign lands and no resemblance with indian architecture what so ever.

So question is, how much indian, taj mahal building really is? is it more lets say persian than Indian? is its conception straight out of west or central asia? i’ll do some structural analysis by discussing architectural elements of taj mahal

general form

some experts might say that Taj mahal resembles a typical central asian/samanid tomb architecture and that its conception was based in central asia and the samanid tombs are direct descendant of Persian chartaq fire temple, these samanid tombs more resemble the buddhist architecture than the persian chartaq fire temples, because their features have more indian origins than persian. The reason why they are called ‘’persian’’ is because the area of central asia is generally considered as part of greater persia, so anything originating from greater persia will be declared as persian, but buddhist influences were also prevalent in those regions who acquired more buddhist sense in architecture than persian. The persian fire temples are not elevated on a higher plinth/platform and have all four sides open unlike samanid tombs where only one side is open and the rest are supplied with perforated jaali windows with one set of stairs leading to the tomb, not to mention the fourfold chartaq design is not even persian and is perhaps a borrowing directly from central asia through buddhism, the cruciform architecture observe in some persian palaces are not roman borrowings but indian because romans didn’t base their architecture on cruciform planning, only indians did.


The platform are a very characteristic Indian architecture element and can be observed as early as first century AD in taxila stupa platforms. The niches carried on the plint of the stupa is also quite similar to the plinth niches in the taj mahal.

a highly elaborate platform styles with square building was always the style of Indian architecture and not persian, from this element we can definitely say that the Taj has Indian influence

kafirkot temples


Four towers arrangement

The four towers have been declared as turkic elements and it stands true as turkish architecture used this four tower design in designing for instance blue mosque and also erected four towers around Hagia sofia, but the origin of this turkic element can be traced to buddhist architecture from gandhara reliefs and has been common motif in the indian architecture as well.

angkor wat four tower arrangement


ellora caves towers


buddhist chaitya gandhara


two tier arrangement

if you observe carefully the taj mahal is using double storey arrangement even though its a single storey and not a double storey building, there is no second floor which you can access, this is a typical indian design which has been incorporated into the taj mahal and it was borrowed ‘’after’’ the islamic conquest of the indian subcontinent.

Dhammayangyi Temple

Taj mahal two tier arrangement


The design of taj mahal to build a cenotaph on the main floor while hide the actual grave underneath the building was again a hindu borrowing. Although cenotaphs date from the ghaznavid period and were not new to the mughals.

jaali windows

Jaali windows are typically indian inspired architectural element, i have talked in detail of the evolution of Indian jaalis from the time of pre islamic to post islamic period in great detail, and how these jali designs incorporate rajput designs both pre and post islamic periods.

pointed arches and domes

it is frequently propagated that pointed arches were not part of the indian designs and that this very element of pointed arches and domes show a very foreign influence in the indian architecture.

mahabodhi temple drawing shows its prominent position in pre islamic periods in India

The framing of the pointed arch within a bigger pointed arch also shows the particular design element prominent in taj mahal also has indian origins

chatri/four smaller domes designs/

Indian temple architecture designed as a square/chartaq frequently incorporated the four dome surrounding the main dome in its architecture.

this was never the case with persian designs.

The chatri pavilion design based on the four dome designs also accommodates the particular indian design of dome umbrellas being constructed flanking their building structures on all four sides as seen in their cenotaphs, these designs are not rajput designs as it is commonly propagated but typical indian designs which existed rom north to south and first instance of these chatris come from a buddhist engraving from bujang valley, where an indian buddhist merchant left it as a gratitude for escaping a life threatening storm or something reaching the shore safely.

bulbous onion dome design

The particular bulbous onion dome with a circular plinth used in the taj mahal is a very Indian design, A small indian onion dome resting on a circular plinth with a finial and a lotus can be seen in many ancient indian temples from Pattadakal and aihole.



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Mar 2019
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The little towers rising from the corners

each corner of a taj mahal is given a small tiny tower which is also surmounted by another onion dome, this feature also incorporates a pre islamic indian design, where every edge was decorated with a tower with an onion dome finishing

The marble cladding

The marble and sandstone cladding has indian origins, amravathi stupa, various other stupas from srilanka and india and sites like nagarjunakonda employed principles of marble and sandstone cladding. the central and west asian counterparts used colourful tile cladding as opposed to marble cladding of the hindu and buddhist temples.

charbagh garden

The charbagh gardens are wrongly attributed to the perians, the persians never incorporated charbagh pattern in their garden architecture, persian gardens were always rectangular, persian dynasty safavid gardens do accommodate some features of mughal charbagh in their designs like central tank and four partitions etc, but the essence of chartaq division is missing. Charbag designs evolved from sigiriya example where a square area was further sub divided into four equal square parts.

pietra dura floral designs

it is argued that the floral designs are arabesque and not indian, the scroll designs are pretty common across all cultures, the colourful floral patterns drawn on the taj mahal are undoubtedly indian as jain manuscripts and other temple paintings show that these designs were present in india and were frequently used/painted to adorn one’s palace, architecture

katas raj temple paintings

Persian gate

it is declared that the gate design of a lotus shaped arch surrounded by a rectangular decorative strip which in islamic architecture carries quranic script is persian in origins, but a second century chaitya gate disproves this notion and provides direct evidence of its indian origins

such architectural features were common from north west india/gandhara where such features are also observed in takh e bahi, gumbatuna stupa/vihara etc to south india as shown by the chaitya arch, and not only in buddhist architecture but also in the hindu architecture.

Taj mahal tree of life relief


borobodur tree of life relief


amer fort tree of life relief/ pre Taj mahal building, nearly a century younger, so thee panels must have predated the taj mahal

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Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
Do they? Admittedly I don't pay much attention, but my recollection is that its called Indo-Persian usually. And that's when they're discussing the broad family of Mughal Architecture. From what I know, there's a broad consensus that the Taj in particular has numerous specific innovations which aren't typically seen in Mughal and Islamic architecture. Apparently the Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, which is modeled on the Taj is significantly closer to "Islamic" architectural principles than the Taj itself was. Shah Jahan was more interested in aesthetics than devotion apparently.
Mar 2019
i think persian aspect is exaggerated if you go back to persian architecture of the sassanid era, even the umayyad architecture, the persian architecture just doesnt have all those features which have been declared ''persian'', the garden for instance has been declared persian even though iran itself never followed the principles of charbagh and yet they are declared persian any way just because safavids copied some garden ideas from the mughals, i think this is dishonest, since the architecture is modeled on central asian islamic aspect, it is declared persian, but in my opinion central asian architecture itself was modeled after the indian architecture as burmese architecture proves it but the european scholars dont even entertain the idea that it maybe indian, the four tower for instance is declared turkish even though here i have shows how its indian. Persians dont use marble cladding, it has always been indian and yet even the marbe aspect has been declared persian, all persian buildings are cladded in clay tiles, only the ghaznavids used marble in their architecture like mahmud ghaznavi palace and tomb and it also came obviously from india, stone cladding was never used west asia.

Kabul shahi even ruled areas where central asian architecture of ghaznavids derived from, so its not even a brainer that those architectures would be indian.

charbagh is declared persian because it was copied later by europeans who dont wanna admit its from the indians.
Jan 2019
Go to any Rajput palace and visit tajmahal.

Mughal Architecture is just Majority Rajputane architecture+some Persian influence

Sent from my Eluga_A2 using Tapatalk
Mar 2019
yeah actually they think that the rajputs are the ones who infact borrowed mughal architecture and even their gardens like charbagh. need some serious research in this field. especially when it comes to charbagh i have done some research on european scholarly works on mughal gardens, and they make some pretty ridiculous claims which i have analysed to be entirely false and very western oriented.

Apr 2019
yeah actually they think that the rajputs are the ones who infact borrowed mughal architecture and even their gardens like charbagh. need some serious research in this field. especially when it comes to charbagh i have done some research on european scholarly works on mughal gardens, and they make some pretty ridiculous claims which i have analysed to be entirely false and very western oriented.

Not at all endorsing Subhash Kak's conspiracy theory.
But did Shahjahan build the Tajmahal from scratch?

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
Very instructive posts, Ashoka. Thank You.

One question: why hadn't You entitled it simply "Taj Mahal's architecture"?