The Dome of the Mausoleum
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The huge bulbous dome of the Taj Mahal reaches a grand height of 144 feet [forty four meters] and is one of the major focal points of the building. Situated on the flat roof of the building it dominates the yawning arches, or iwans of the four façades. The dome is placed on a truncated drum to retain volume, and is a regular feature of Mughal architecture and locates the exact centre of the building.
Geometry plays an important role in the overall designs of Mughal architecture, and the play of shape in the Taj Mahal is optimal. The ground plans of the main chamber and the base of the minarets use an octagonal template,
the right angles of the plinth and gardens engage the use of the square and the water channels are rectangular.
Subsequently, it is the dome, which brings cylindrical perfection to the site, and the circle, symbolizes perfection and unity.
The Taj Mahal in fact boasts a double-dome, a false ceiling inside a large outer-skin. This device gives the imposing volume to the outside of the dome, whilst retaining comfortable proportions in the inside - which would otherwise be cavernous.
It is a technique used by Sir Christopher Wren in the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Flanking the exterior are four domed kiosks or chhatris which add symmetry and verticality.
Ornamenting the summit of the dome is an open lotus, this acts as a visual anchor to the bulk of the dome underneath. The lotus nests under a gilded finial. Surrounding the drum of the dome is a dazzling necklace of bejeweled inlay. This is a startling example of how the decoration and architecture are used to compliment each other.