The Mehmenkhana (Guesthouse)
Explore the Taj Mahal - Virtual Tour
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To the of East the Taj Mahal mausoleum, on the left here, is the Guest House or Mehmankhana. This is also called the Response, or jawab. Built as a reply opposite the Mosque, it creates architectural balance.
The guest house is constructed from red sandstone with the addition of marble facing which provides an alluring contrast of colors. As a twin to the mosque, the exterior has one large alcove (iwan), with two smaller siblings to either side. Classic stone inlay illumines the arches and dados decorated with flowers in carved relief adorn the recesses.
Two multi-faceted towers, which resemble Humayun's library at Purana Qila, where he fell to his death in 1556, are situated either side of the guest house.
These are mirrored on a smaller scale by four chhatris on the roof of the guesthouse, which flank the three central domes. Flower-topped pinnacles subtly enhance the illusion of height to balance the otherwise bulbous domes. The tops of the domes boast the traditional lotus design and are surmounted by gilded finials.
The finial on the main dome is the fourth in succession after a series of repairs and replacements. The first was replaced by Captain Joseph Taylor in 1810, and the finial you see here was installed in 1940.
The use of this building remains ambiguous. With its orientation away from Mecca it could never function as a mosque. Not long after the fall of the Mughal Empire honeymooning Britain's frolicked in the rooms although such disrespectful actions were soon halted.