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Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal Facts
- Location:On the banks of Yamuna River in Agra a city in Uttar Pradesh, India
- Architect: Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
- Year of construction: 1631-1653
- Significance: One of the Seven Wonders of the World
- Time to visit: Between October and March
- Opening hours: Open everyday from 6 a.m.-7 p.m., except Fridays
- Admission fee: Rs. 970 for Foreigners; Rs.110 during the sunrise and sunset and Rs. 20 during the daytime for Indians
- How to reach: Indian Airlines runs daily flights from Delhi to Agra. Apart from air access, Agra is well-connected by frequent train services to Delhi and by road to the cities like Delhi, Gwalior, Jaipur, Jhansi and Lucknow.
- Nearest railway station: Agra Railway Station
- Nearest international airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport
Taj Mahal History
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ruled from 1628 to 1658 and was married to Arjumand Bano Begum in 1612 A.D. He called his wife Mumtaz Mahal or Crown of the Palace, because she was so precious to him. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan had 14 children and the queen accompanied Shah Jahan everywhere, even on military campaigns. It was on one of these campaigns, in Burhanpur in central India, that Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631, shortly after giving birth to her 14th child. Her dying wish to Shah Jahan was that he should "build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before." The history of the Taj Mahal begins with Mumtaz Mahal's tragic end. Shah Jahan fulfilled her wish, creating the most beautiful mausoleum the world had ever seen.
Visit Taj Mahal on a full moon night, and you will understand why Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan proudly proclaimed: 'The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs/ And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes' - when he erected this magnificent monument in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Standing royally like a 'tear drop on the cheek of time' on the banks of River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal, Agra is appropriately called the 'epitome of love'. The 'jewel of Muslim art in India' appellation seems to somehow limit its universal appeal. This monument, one of the most loved ones around the world, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Taj Mahal Architecture
The construction of Taj Mahal is a perfect blend of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic styles of architecture. A wonderfully laid out walled garden surrounds the beautiful monument of Taj Mahal. The entire Taj complex comprises 5 major constituents, namely Darwaza (The main gateway), Bageecha (The gardens), Masjid (The mosque), Naqqar Khana (The rest house) and Rauza (The main mausoleum).
- Main gateway: Ornamented with Hindu motifs, the main gateway is built in the shape of an arch rising till the mid-height of the structure. With a vertical symmetry, the gateway is bordered with Arabic calligraphy of verses from the holy Quran. Entangled flowers, predominantly red lotus, leaves and vines adorn the sloping sides of the niche. Further beautification of the gateway is made by an image of a white teardrop with a red trident, sited above the pointed tip of the niche.
- Mosque: The mosque, made up of red sandstone, is located on the western side, facing the direction of the holy city of Mecca. Decorated with pietra dura on the exterior, the mosque boasts of its 4 octagonal towers and 3 elegant domes while the interiors are engraved with delicate calligraphy citing the name of Allah and quotations from scriptures. There is also a small replica of the Masjid of the Taj Mahal, standing opposite to it.
- Inside the Taj: The main highlight of the Taj Mahal is the white marble tomb, standing on a square plinth comprising a symmetrical building with an iwan, an arch-shaped entryway, crowned by a large dome.
The base structure is quite large and multi-chambered. The real Taj Mahal contains the mausoleum which is placed approximately 900 feet away from the main entrance. There is a red sandstone platform at the lowest level. Above that is the marble podium which is served as the base of the mausoleum.
As you move further to get inside, you will come across a lofty central chamber and a crypt immediately below this along with the 4 octagonal corner rooms. The Cairene lamp above the tombs also adds to the beauty of the interiors.
- Taj Mahal Rest House: Located just opposite to the mosque in Taj Mahal, the red sandstone monument is called Taj Mahal Naqqar Khana or the Rest house or Jawab.
- Taj Mahal Gardens: The Persian style gardens of Taj Mahal, highlighting on flowers, fruit, birds, leaves, symmetry and delicacy, were set up in India by Emperor Babur. They follow perfect geometric patterns of arrangement.
Nearby attractions to Taj
If you are coming for a tour to Taj Mahal, you must visit other nearby attractions like Agra Fort, Bharatpur, Chini Ka Ranza, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Itmad-ud-daulah Tomb, Sikandara, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, Musamman Burj or Jasmine Tower, Jahangir's Palace and Jama Masjid.
Where to stay
Starting from the luxury hotels such as Jaypee Palace, the Oberoi Amarvillas, Agra, Taj View Hotel, there are abundant economy type accommodations like Hotel Amar- Agra, Grand Hotel and the Trident Agra - all located close to the Taj Mahal. All luxury hotels have wonderful restaurants that serve multi-cuisine delicacies. Hotel Sheela, Zorba, Hotel East Life and the Aahar are all quite popular restaurants among visitors and tourists.
The beauty of the Taj is marvelous irrespective of when you visit, whether it is early morning or afternoon or evening. But, its divine grandeur during night, especially at moonlit nights, is beyond the scope of words. One thing is for sure that if you visit Taj Mahal once, the memory will remain forever.
There are plenty of beautiful pictures of the Taj and travel accounts to this wonderful mausoleum on the Internet.