(RAHNUMA) The plot of land on which the Taj Mahal is built, belonged to Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s famed general. When Mumtaz died, Raja Jai Singh, his grandson was the owner. Though Shah Jahan or Raja Jai Singh would not have anticipated a day would come when the property deeds of the Taj Mahal would be checked, thankfully as the Mughals administration was very bureaucratic, thousands of documents were generated and preserved. Though many have been lost over the years some still remain. Apart from the memoirs by emperors; many contemporary accounts were written which record every detail of the period.
During the reign of Shah Jahan too many court histories were written. These were the Padshah Nama of Qazwini, The Padshah Nama of Abdul Hamid Lahori and Muhammad Waris, the Shah Jahan Nama of Muhammad Salih Kanbo. These form an important source of information regarding Shah Jahan’s reign, administration, conquests, and his buildings. Many later texts emerged in the 19th and 20th century which carried hearsay accounts and can not be considered factual unless borne out by the ones written during Shah Jahan’s reign or immediately after.
The contemporary texts refer to the mausoleum that was built by him for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, as Rauza e Munnavara or the Illuminated Tomb. Taj Mahal: The Illumined Tomb by WE Begley and ZA Desai have compiled an anthology of these sources and it was from this book that I realize how well documented the building of the mausoleum was. The Taj Mahal was built on the land where Raja Jai Singh had a mansion and that there is no mention of any religious building on that land.
These historians mention that though Raja Jai Singh wanted to give it for free for the noble purpose, the emperor was unwilling and gave another mansion loftier than the one he had acquired in lieu thereof. Two books give details and a translation of the royal “farman” giving four “havelis” in lieu of Raja Jai Singh’s haveli. The word mentioned is “haveli” or mansion.
I found details and translation of the “farman” giving orders for the exchange to Raja Jai Singh in two books. One is Mughal Documents by prof SAI Tirmizi and the other is Begley and Desai’s Taj Mahal: The Illumined Tomb. Begley and Desai have translated the “farman” in its entirety and have given all the details of endorsements and scrutiny that were given on the back, which were necessary before it could be admitted in the royal office.
Muhammad Salih Kanbo writes that the emperor acquired a “heaven-like tract of land (sarzamin e bihist-ain)” which was situated on the south side of Agra and belonged to Raja Man Singh. Once again the word manzil is used. There are other royal “farmans” addressed to Raja Jai Singh which deal with sending of marble from Makrana mines which were part of Raja Jai Singh’s estates.
“Be it known through this glorious farman marked by happiness, which has received the honor of issuance and the dignity of proclamation, that the mansions (haveli) detailed in the endorsement, together with their dependencies, which belong to the august crown property, have been offered to that pride of peers and vassal of the monarch of Islam, Raja Jai Singh, and are hereby handed over and transferred to his ownership- in exchange of the mansion (haveli) formerly belonging to Raja Man Singh, which that pride of the grandees willingly and voluntarily donated for the mausoleum of that Queen of the ladies of the world ….. Mumtaz Mahal Begum.” [Translation Begley and Desai]
Edited Excerpt From The real story of how the Taj Mahal was built by Rana Safvi: https://ranasafvi.com/the-real-story-of-how-the-taj-mahal-was-built/
The rooms in Taj were used by the emperor who entered from the Yamuna from Taj Mahal: Multiple Narratives by Amita Baig & Rahul Mehrotra and Ebba Koch: The Complete Taj Mahal.