The Gateway to the Taj Mahal
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The Gateway to the Taj Mahal is a unique piece of architecture in itself and separates the gardens from the forecourt. Rising approximately 100 feet [30 meters] and with a width of 150 feet [46 meters], this red sandstone building is of three stories, and like the tomb, is adorned with calligraphy the noblest craft of the day.
The gateway is an atmospheric transition point between the bustling world outside and the tranquil ambiance within the grounds of the Taj Mahal. It both protects the Taj from predators, yet invites visitors to enter the garden of Paradise. The imposing brass door is not the original which was studded with silver rupees, and was stolen by rebels in 1764.
The first of many Arabic inscriptions in a calligraphic scheme guided specifically by Qur'anic quotations appears around the south door of the gateway. The calligrapher, Amanat Khan has used the tromp l'oeil effect. This involves the gradual enlarging of the letters and their spacing as they snake around the form of the arch. The result is seemingly consistent dimensions as you read the holy lettering from the ground.
Crowning the gateway are twenty two small ornamental chhatris and these are placed in two lines of eleven above the main portal. In each of the four corners are larger kiosks, all of which echo the overall design of the Taj Mahal complex.