An elegant poet described Taj Mahal as the teardrop on the cheek of eternity. Taj Mahal is a world wonder located in Agra. Every year tourists amounting to twice the total population of Agra visit the city for spotting Taj Mahal. To immortalize his love for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the most amazing mausoleum of all times. Why should you make it a point to visit this marble structure at least once during your lifetime? Here are the top five compelling reasons.
The Romance Factor
The main expression of this building is pure love. This structure now stands as the bible for love. Many lovers, honeymooners and couples visit this structure to relish that expression of this structure. The best of all times to visit Taj Mahal is during night. Taj Mahal complex is open for tourists on five nights per lunar cycle. The full moon night, two nights before and after the full moon night. This is the time of exceptional beauty.
Reason behind the Construction of Taj Mahal
Prince Kurram (later Shah Jahan) married his mother’s niece and named her as Mumtaz Mahal. They were married for 19 years and she travelled with him, everywhere, even during his military trips, despite her pregnancies. She was praised by the royals and the locals for her charms, beauty, compassion and her quest to help orphans and widows. She was one of the trusted advisors of the king. While, on a military trip, she died in a tent in the arms of her beloved husband, while giving birth to a healthy baby girl. She was buried closer to the tent.
However, Shah Jahan couldn’t get a closure on her death. She was later removed and brought back to Agra in a royal procession and was buried in the spot of Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was still couldn’t get a closure. Thus, he vowed to build the best monument of all times around her burial spot, which could never stand to be paralleled by any other structure, just like his wife was incomparable with any other living soul.
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What was the Taj Mahal Made of
There is a strong reason to why this structure is considered as a world wonder, from the city, which is laid down with marble structures and palaces. The structure is built from high quality Makrana marbles, which were brought to Agra from Rajasthan. The mosque and the guesthouse inside the complex are symmetric. The exclusive item that adds beauty to the place is the intricate mosaic design.
Semi-precious stones and rare gems were used to decorate the structure and these gems were commissioned from various parts of the world. This art form of using semi-precious stones to decorate mosaic works is called as Parchin Kari. It is said that Shah Jahan had immense knowledge about precious and semi-precious stones.
How Much Did it Cost to Build Taj Mahal
Do you know that the monument is estimated to be built at the cost of 32 million rupees? This would amount to $827 million to today’s value. It is said that 1000 elephants were used and each element of construction was brought from around the world.
- Brick and Sandstone – Agra
- Marbles – Agra and Rajasthan
- Carnelian – Arabia
- Lapis Lazuli – Afghanistan
- Turquoise – Tibet
- Crystal and Jade – China
- Jaspers – Punjab
- Sapphire – Sri Lanka
How many years it took to build Taj Mahal in Agra
It took 22 years for completing this monument. There are 22 white domes inside the monument to express the number of years; it took for completing this monument.
Taj Mahal Architecture
The entire complex covers 42 acres and the king made sure that there was no room for any error. Every element of this structure has an inbuilt meaning to it.
Exterior of Taj Mahal
The main entrance of the structure is found on the southern part of the complex. It is built with red sandstones and is decorated with calligraphic scripts quoting the Quran.
Walk down the gate and you will spot 22 white domes. These represent the 22 years it took to build this structure.
Walk past it and you will find a symmetric Persian garden. According Islamic mythology, the paradise has a flourishing garden.
The garden is divided into four parts by water pathway, which represents the sea of honey, wine, milk and water (seas found in the paradise, according to Quran).
Every Islamic structure has a mosque in it, which will be facing towards the holy land of Mecca.
The guesthouse on the east side of the complex was solely built to maintain a symmetry to the entire structure. At some point, pilgrims occupied the guesthouses.
The main structure is the Taj Mahal. It is a large dome fitted structure with four minarets on each side. Interestingly, the minarets are not perpendicular to the ground. They are built in a slanting angle so that if earthquake damages the minarets, it would not fall on the Taj Mahal.
The external walls of the monument is built to create an optical illusion. The structure has four sides with chamfered corners with pilasters. These pilasters have four sides, with the fourth side attached to the main wall. Thus, only three sides are seen. Stand closer to the wall and fix your eyes to the V-shaped motif. Now walk closer to the walk and you will see six sides of pilaster, instead of just three.
Interior of Taj Mahal
The actual cenotaphs of the emperor and his wife are in a burial chamber underground. The ones on the top are decoy to avoid damage to the corpse during invasion. During an ancient invasion of Agra, the invader removed the bones from Akbar’s Tomb (Shah Jahan’s grandfather) and burnt them. It is a form of disgrace in Islamic culture. To avoid such dishonor, the decoy cenotaphs were placed and the original cenotaphs are hidden in a secret chamber, which is not open to visitors.
The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal stands at the center point of the hall and every other element of the hall follows strict symmetry.
A bronze lamp hangs from the roof of the dome. It is said that the lamp is inlaid with silver and gold. It was a gift from Lord Curzon to Taj Mahal. Lord Curzon is responsible for repairing many structures of Taj Mahal. It is said that, when Lord Curzon visited Taj Mahal, it was dimly lit and he wasn’t able to enjoy the decorations on the wall. He asked his artisans to create the lamp, which will be a replica of the ancient lamp of Sultan Baibars I mosque in Egypt. It took two years to complete this lamp.
Islamic rules does not allow structures to have human or animal drawings in religious art. Thus, the entire structure is decorated with carvings of wines, flowers, leaves and others.
Experience the Optical Illusion
The monument has four sides fitted with chamfered corners. Each corner has four sided pilasters. One side of the pilasters is attached to the wall and you can spot the other three side of pilasters. Here is the trick. Stand at least three meters closer to the water. Fix your eyes of the V-shaped motif. Now, walk closer to the wall and, you would see six-sides of pilasters instead of just three.
Photography Tips to Taj Mahal
If you love photography, no other sight will do the right honors to your picture, like Taj Mahal.
- The view of Taj Mahal from outside the main gateway is the most clicked view of Taj Mahal.
- If you want to get the right shot of the structure during sunrise, visit the guesthouse on east side. Taj Mahal will look in a golden hue from this side.
- If you want to photograph the detailed decorations on the monument, choose to click Taj Mahal from the mosque, which is on the west side to the mausoleum.
- If you want to capture the symmetry of the land, visit Mehtab Bagh garden on the opposite side of Taj Mahal.
- Taj Mahal complex is open for tourists on five nights per lunar cycle. The full moon night, two nights before and after the full moon night. This is the time of exceptional beauty.
- You can get the dome view of the structure from Agra Fort.
Myths of Taj Mahal
- Do you know that there are indications that Taj Mahal was indeed a Hindu structure? The finial is decorated with a moon, which is said to be the head decoration of Lord Shiva. The edges of the crescent moon and the finial point makes a trident shape, which is the weapon of Lord Shiva.
- There is also a study that Taj Mahal will not stay white for longer, beauty of pollution in air, which is leading to marble leprosy.
- It is believed that an Italian architect built the structure. However, there is no proof for the architect’s connection with the structure.
- The only element in the structure, which is not symmetric to other elements, is the cenotaph of Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan never wanted to be buried in Taj Mahal. After his death while being captured by his son, his son buried him beside Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that Shah Jahan planned to build a black Taj Mahal similar to Taj Mahal, on the other side of River Yamuna for his resting place. Both the monuments were planned to be connected via a bridge.
- It is said that the artisans who worked for Taj Mahal were commissioned to mutilate their hands to avoid replicating this structure elsewhere. There is no concrete proof for this accusation.
- Over the decades, the monument is sinking down. The ebony base of the structure needs constant moisture to support the structure. Since River Yamuna is drying out, the ebony is weakening and the structure is sinking.
Foreign Celebrities Visited Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal has been visited in the past by numerous celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Hillary Clinton, Princess Diana (the bench on which she sat is called as Diana’s bench), Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, March Zuckerberg, Beatles’ George Harrison, Vladimir Putin, Ben Kingsley and others. Do you want to bask in the beauty that has been appreciated by these celebrities? Visit Taj Mahal.
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