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The Taj Mahal: A monument to eternal love - Stephanie Honchell Smith

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It’s 1631. Mumtaz Mahal, beloved wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, is giving birth to their 14th child. A healthy girl is born, but Mumtaz dies soon after. Sobbing uncontrollably, the emperor decides to build a tomb worthy of his queen: a replica of paradise to embody their love and project the power of the Mughal Empire for all time. Stephanie Honchell Smith details the construction of the Taj Mahal.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Stephanie Honchell Smith
  • Director Jeff Le Bars, Jet Propulsion
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Art Director Jeff Le Bars
  • Animator Jeff Le Bars, Sophie de La Fage
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Senior Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658), as both a mausoleum for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and a grand display of Mughal power. Want to know more about the empire that built the Taj Mahal? Check out The Rise and Fall of the Mughal Empire and Crash Course World History: The Mughal Empire and Historical Reputation.

To learn more about the history and architecture of the Taj Mahal complex, see the works of Ebba Koch and Laura Parodi. You can even take a virtual tour of the site on Google Earth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Taj Mahal had a lasting impact on Mughal and Indian architecture, which art historian Chanchal Dadlani discusses in this podcast from Yale Press. In addition to architecture, the Mughals excelled at other forms of art, including painting, which is explored in James Farago’s article for The New York Times, “What a Tiny Masterpiece Reveals About Power and Beauty.”

Today, the future of the Taj Mahal is threatened by pollution and other factors, leading to questions about what can be done to save the world’s most famous monument to love. You can learn more about environmental threats and preservation efforts in this article from Smithsonian Magazine.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Stephanie Honchell Smith
  • Director Jeff Le Bars, Jet Propulsion
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Art Director Jeff Le Bars
  • Animator Jeff Le Bars, Sophie de La Fage
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Senior Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler

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