It’s not for nothing that the Taj Mahal in Agra is considered as one of the Wonders of the World. Built in the 17th century, the monument commissioned by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan continues to leave the hordes of tourists that visit it every day awestruck. The architectural wonder is often termed as a symbol of perfection. But three decades ago, a scientist noticed a rather obvious flaw.
In the 1980s, Dilip Ahuja made a casual trip to the Taj Mahal. Having visited the monument several times in the past, he now turned his attention to the finer details – and made a startling observation. Ahuja noticed that the central dome of the monument was asymmetrical, with one side clearly larger than the other. Given that it was such an obvious flaw, Ahuja assumed that it must have been well known and documented. However, he was wrong.
Three decades later, Ahuja, now a professor in the energy and environment department of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, made a presentation about the Taj’s asymmetry to his colleagues. He was met with disbelief. But a study was conducted by a peer and both simple and complex measurements proved Ahuja right.
Further investigation revealed that the central dome Jama Masjid in Delhi, also commissioned by Shah Jahan, was asymmetric as well.
This episode of The Intersection investigates what this design flaw means and whether Shah Jahan knew about it.
This is the latest episode of The Intersection, a fortnightly podcast on Audiomatic. For more such podcasts, visit audiomatic.in.
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