Location: Agra (from Delhi its 203 km)
Built By: Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Principal Architect: Ustad Isa, and Ustad Ahmed Lahori
Other Attractions: Ornamental Gardens, Cenotaph Of Mumtaz Mahal, a small museum
Visiting Hours: 6 am to 7 pm ( There are separate charges and timing for the full moon day)
How To Reach: From Delhi its just 203 km and takes around 4-5 hours.
USP: One of the 7th wonders of the world.
Topped the list of ‘Seven Wonders’ of the world, Taj Mahal is undoubtedly India’s prized possession and world’s one of the grates architectural brilliance. Mesmerized by its heavenly beauty, Taj has inspired countless poets, writers, musicians and painters across the world for centuries. Why Taj Mahal is so special and what beguiles thousands of weary travelers to soak in the glory of marble magic? The answers are subtle and cloudy. Nobody can justify the exact reason behind the mysterious attraction that beckons their soul to revisit the monument of love countless times.
Taj Mahal was a royal mausoleum for Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz was the daughter of Asaf Khan (Shah Jahan’s father grand vizier) and niece of Noor Jahan ( Jahangir’s wife). During the 19 years of marriage to Shah Jahan, She bore fourteen children out of them seven were died in infancy.
Mumtaz Mahal died in the year of 1631 at Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh while giving birth to her fourteenth child. In the last moment she drew out out four promises from her husband. First promise was to built a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before. The construction of Taj Mahal started in 1631 and took twenty two years to complete. Masons, craftsmen, sculptors and calligraphers were summoned from Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Europe to work on the masterpiece. The marble was brought in from Rajasthan, the red sandstone from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and crystal from China, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelia from Arabia and Diamonds from the mines at Panna. The legend is said that the hands its master craftsmen were chopped off on completion, lest it be replicated.
Taj Mahal is not just a monument but an architectural complex that has five main elements: the ‘darwaza’ or the main gateway, the ‘bageecha’ or the garden, the ‘masjid’ or the mosque, the ‘naqqar khana’ or rest house and the ‘rauza’ or the mausoleum. The gateway is made up of red sandstone and 30 m of height. The gateway itself is inscribed verses from Koran and symbolizes the gateway through which Prophet Mohammed entered paradise.
The garden covers the entire route between Taj and the main gateway. The garden is divided into four equal squares and the layout was according to the formula of four, the holiest of all numbers in Islam, with two intersecting marble canals studded with fountains and lined with cypress trees.
Taj Mahal is square in plan with chambered corners. Four slender minarets were built to deliberately slant outwards as in the unfortunate events like earthquake, they would not fall on the tomb, but away from it.
Inside the lofty central chamber, lie the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The Shah Jahan cenotaph is placed little higher than that of his wife. Both the cenotaphs were inlaid by precious and semi precious stones. The dome as made in such a way that Koranic verses and music echoed and magnified. The actually tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are located below the central chamber. The Muslim decorative arts that are verses from Koran, geometric shapes, and variety of plant forms and flowers dominate the inlay work.