Taj Mahal: The Everlasting Marvel of India

Updated on Feb 13, 2024 | Online Indian Visa

The Taj Mahal, made up of magnificent ivory-white marble, is a mausoleum situated in Agra, India. It was famously built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved-wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal has often been recalled as one of the most splendid examples of Mughal architecture as it combines elements from Indian, Persian as well as Islamic architectural styles.

The architectural features including its marble dome, intricate inlay work, minarets, the four pillars, the symmetry of its location between two mosques, reflect the pinnacle of Mughal architectural achievement. However, a lesser-known fact is that both the cenotaphs, which are known to hold the Mughal Emperor and his wife, are actually empty!

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Architectural Facts Regarding the Taj Mahal

The construction of Taj Mahal was completed in 1648 and it was established as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983. The monument is deemed as the most significant symbol of love alongwith being a testament to the excellence of Mughal craftsmanship and artistry.

The complex includes the mausoleum, twin mosque buildings, gardens, and a museum. The Taj Mahal, through its unique architectural positioning, has optical illusions everywhere. It constantly changes hues, while the regular mudpack and red brick presence of the structures around it restore the white radiance of the monument.

The main material used in the construction of the Taj Mahal is white marble sourced from Makrana in present-day Rajasthan, India. The marble was transported over 200 miles to the construction site in Agra. Other materials used include red sandstone, precious and semi-precious stones for inlay work, and various metals for decorative elements.

Additionally, the ordered symmetry of the Taj Mahal itself symbolizes absolute power. The architecturalural beauty of the Taj Mahal lies in its rhythmic combination of solids and voids, the four free-standing minarets, and the perfect symmetrical planning of the building. The complex is also known for its harmonious proportions, calligraphic inscriptions, and the use of geometric and floral designs.

The monument's construction employed around 20,000 artisans, took around 20 years, and was completed at a cost estimated to be around 35 billion rupees in 1653. The main architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahori, and the construction involved artisans from the Mughal Empire, Central Asia, and Iran.

Legend and Myths Surrounding the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal, being a symbol of love and one of the most iconic structures in the world, has gathered its fair share of legends and myths over the centuries.

  • The Black Taj Mahal: According to this legend, Shah Jahan planned to build an identical mausoleum for himself across the Yamuna River, made entirely of black marble, to be connected to the Taj Mahal by a bridge.
  • The Curse of the Taj Mahal: It is said that Shah Jahan intended to build another monument in black marble, but his plans were thwarted by his son Aurangzeb, who deposed him and imprisoned him in Agra Fort. Some versions of this legend claim that Shah Jahan cursed his son and the empire, leading to its eventual decline.
  • The Hands of the Workers: There's a myth that suggests that Shah Jahan ordered the hands of the artisans and workers who built the Taj Mahal to be cut off after its completion to prevent them from ever replicating its beauty elsewhere. However, there's no historical evidence to support this claim.
  • Treasure Within the Taj Mahal: It's been rumored for centuries that the Taj Mahal contains hidden chambers or passages that hold treasures or secrets. Some tales suggest that these treasures were hidden during construction to protect them from invaders, while others claim that Shah Jahan himself concealed wealth within the monument.
  • Mumtaz Mahal's Symbolic Burial: There's a myth that suggests that Mumtaz Mahal's body was not buried beneath the Taj Mahal's dome, but instead in a secret location. Some versions of this legend claim that her body was placed in a golden casket and then buried elsewhere to prevent desecration.

These legends and myths add to the allure and mystique of the Taj Mahal, but it's essential to recognize them as folklore rather than historical fact.

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Things To-do at the Taj Mahal

  • Explore the Gardens: Take a leisurely stroll through the lush gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal. The gardens are beautifully landscaped and add to the serene ambiance of the monument.
  • Visit the Main Mausoleum: Enter the main mausoleum to pay homage to Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Marvel at the intricately carved marble cenotaphs of the emperor and his wife, surrounded by delicate screens and Quranic inscriptions.
  • Learn About the History: Take the time to learn about the history and significance of the Taj Mahal through informative plaques, audio guides, or guided tours.
  • Enjoy the View from the Riverbank: Head to the opposite bank of the Yamuna River to enjoy a panoramic view of the Taj Mahal.
  • Visit Nearby Attractions: Explore other attractions in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal, such as the Agra Fort, Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb (also known as the Baby Taj), and Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden), which offers excellent views of the Taj Mahal.
  • Shopping: Browse the shops near the Taj Mahal for souvenirs, handicrafts, and local artwork. You'll find a variety of items such as miniature replicas of the Taj Mahal, marble carvings, jewelry, and traditional Indian textiles.
  • Enjoy Local Cuisine: Sample delicious local cuisine at nearby restaurants and eateries. Agra is famous for its Mughlai cuisine, so be sure to try dishes like biryani, kebabs, and paneer delicacies.
  • Attend Cultural Performances: If available, attend cultural performances or events near the Taj Mahal. These may include traditional music, dance performances, or exhibitions showcasing local arts and crafts.

Remember to respect the rules and regulations in place at the Taj Mahal, such as restrictions on photography inside the main mausoleum. Enjoy your visit to this magnificent monument!

What is the Best Time to Visit Taj Mahal?

The best time to visit Taj Mahal would be during the early summer i.e., from February to May, but not peak summer as the white marbles become significantly impossible to walk on. It is, however, also recommended to visit the site during the dry winter season i.e., from October to February to avoid the heat and the monsoon season.

Following which, the best days to visit the site are between Monday and Thursday. The optimal time during the day would be in the late afternoon, as the crowd begins to disperse and the fading sunlight is favorable as it extends a yellowish-orange hue on the white marble, making it a spectacle for the visitors. It is recommended to book tickets online before visiting to avoid queues on arrival, and to enter through the South or East Gate, which are less crowded than the West Gate.

The Taj Mahal is usually open from 6am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday, so it’s advisable to arrive either early around 6am when it opens or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowd. On Fridays, it’s closed for prayers (namaz).

Additionally, on rare occasions such as the full moon, the monument is open for night-time viewings from 8:30pm to 12:30am two days before & after, as well as on the day of.

How to Get to the Taj Mahal in Agra?

The best way to get to the Taj Mahal from Agra can be by either of air, train, or road. Agra has its own airport, which is the fastest way to reach the monument. Indian Airlines operates flights to Agra on a daily basis.

Agra is also well connected to the rest of the country by a good network of trains, with the main railway station being Agra Cantonment. There are regular bus services from Agra to a number of important cities, and after reaching the city, you can easily get a taxi, tempo, auto-rickshaw, or cycle rickshaw to reach the Taj Mahal.

Prepaid taxis are also available if you want to visit the various places near the city. For the adventurous kind, there are bicycles that can be hired on an hourly basis from different parts of the city.

To summarise, the historical landmark continues to attract millions of tourists from around the world, waiting to bask in its beauty, because of which the site’s preservation is of great importance to the Indian government. The monument’s historical and cultural significance makes it a treasure, not merely for India, but for the entire world.

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