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Taj Mahal - The bond of love. The symbol of passion. The beauty of white marble. This is Taj Mahal. It is the Crown Palace of Mughal architecture. Located on the bank of a picturesque river, the structure is a sheer magic. Have a virtual tour before you pack your bags.

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Taj Mahal

Descriptionless Magical Romance in Stones
Taj MahalTaj Maas Crown Palace, it is the monument of unsurpassable architectural beauty, a structure of sheer magic and the ethereal symbol of an emperor's passion for the queen of his heart. A legendary monument, must to be seen in a lifetimhal, the epitome of love, is one of the most visited and most photographed places in the world. Also known e.

Country India
State Uttar Pradesh
Location Agra
Known For Finest monument of Mughal architecture in white marble
Best Time To Visit November to February
Best Moment To Visit Moonlit Night
Visiting Hours 0600hrs-0700hrs (Except Fridays)
Architectural Style Indo-Persian

Why to Visit
  • One of the top seven tourist travel wonders as compiled by Hillman Wonders.
  • Was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1983.
  • Above 15,000 tourists visit this most famous mausoleum of the planet every day.
  • Most majestic monument of white marble narrating the tale of everlasting love.
Fine Points of The Taj
  • Known for changing colors: shimmers silver in the moonlight, becomes pinkish at dawn and assumes fiery hue at dusk. On foggy morning, it seems suspended when viewed from the river side.
  • Incredible level of artistic sophistication- 'A 3cm decorative element contains more than 50 inlaid gemstones'
  • An aesthetically perfect marble tomb with River Yamuna as a backdrop. Reflection of the moon and Taj on the river is idyllic!
  • Marble strewn with stone flowers whose grace excel those of real flowers
  • Inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones
  • Culmination of the aesthetic sensibilities of Central Asia, Persia and India.
  • Exquisite calligraphic craftsmanship of Koran quotations
The Taj Complex
Taj MahalAlthough the onion-domed tomb of the the Taj is its most famous section, The Taj complex comprises five spectacular elements- the Rouza or the Taj Mausoleum, the Darwaza or Main Gateway, the Bageecha or Garden, the Masjid or Mosque, the Jawab or Rest House, and the Red Wall. Lesser structures include the tombs of Shah Jahan's other wives and one for a close aide of Mumtaj.

The Rouza or The Taj Mausoleum
The Taj mausoleum, built with white marble, incorporates Central Asian, Persian and Indian architectural styles with basic Persian design elements like a symmetrical building and an arc-shaped doorway.

The tomb, which is a large, multi-chambered structure, stands on a square plinth flanked by four tapering graceful minarets. The cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaj are housed in the main chamber, but the actual graves are a level below.

The entire structure is embellished by exquisite inlay work with delicate details using precious gems. Flowery designs, geometrical patterns and calligraphy on main archways endow them captivating charm. The octagonal marble screen or jali bordering the cenotaphs has been carved through with intricate work.

That the Taj has been described as "having been designed by giants and finished by the jewellers" testifies to the exquisite workmanship.

The Darwaza or The Gateway
The Darwaza is majestic three-storey red sandstone structure with a central chamber having a vaulted roof and smaller rooms on each side, which have elaborate geometric designs. The style reminds us of early Mughal architecture. The walls are inscribed with Quranic verses in black callibraphy.

A remarkable feature is that the letters appear akin from top to bottom. This feat was accomplished by heightening the letters gradually towards the top.

The Bageecha or The Garden
Islamic architecture gives great value to lush watered gardens or charbags*. The Taj also lies in a sprawling garden that has sunken flowerfeds, raised pathways, fountains and pools. Watercourses which originate from a central, raised pool divide the garden into several flowerbeds.

The Taj Garden is a bit different from other charbag gardens. For the Taj is not at the centre of the garden but at it's end. Recently discovered 'Mahtab Bagh' or 'Moonlight Garden' explains this. The river Yamuna itself was taken into account before designing the garden, and the river had to play the role of a charbag river, in the scheme of the things.

The Masjid or The Mosque
Two red sandstones buildings, which are mirror images of each other, are situated on the far end of the complex. The red sandstone building to the west of the complex is the Masjid or the Mosque. In Islamic architecture, it is common to build a mosque near a tomb, for it sanctifies the area.

The Jawab or The Rest House
The building opposite it, which is the mirror image of the first. is the jawab or "answer". It is also known as naqqar khana. The objective behind its construction is architectural balance, for it cannot be used for worship as it faces away from Mecca. Now in decrepit state, it served as a guest house.

The Red Wall
A crenellated red sandstone wall encases the Taj Mahal on three sides. The side facing the river is left open. Small domes and structures, which may have been used as watch towers, interperse the wall.

To the west is a small museum which houses original architectural drawings of the Taj. It also contains information on the gems employed in its building.

Making of The Taj
  • Taj MahalThirty-two million rupees, twenty-two years and more than twenty thousand workers! All these were devoted for the construction of this marvel.
  • More than 1000 elephants were made to transport construction materials while the construction of the Taj was in progress.
  • Master craftsmen from Persia, France, Iran, Italy and Turkey worked on the tomb.
  • The translucent white marble was brought in from Makrana in Rajasthan (India).
  • Twenty-eight kind of stones were used for inlay work in the Taj Mahal.
  • Jasper was transported from Punjab, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelian from Arabia, Jade and Crystal from China and Diamonds from Panna.
Concise History
The year was 1631. The making of the Taj commenced. Shah Jehan, the fifth emperor of the Mughal dynasty of medieval India, started writing the 'elegy in marble'. An elegy in the memory of his beloved wife Arjumand Bano, on whom he had bestowed the title Mumtaj Mahal or the Exalted Palace. Mumtaj died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. The emperor was so grief-stricken at his wife's untimely demise that, they say, he went into seclusion for full one year and when he reappeared, all his hair had become snow white.

The emperor decided to build an unrivalled monment in the memory of his beloved and the work started in full swing. The marvel was completed in 1654.

In his later days, Shah Jahan was deposed by his own son Aurangzeb and imprisoned at Agra Fort. In captivity, he could only have a glimpse of his beloved Taj. After his death, he was buried beside the cenotaph of his beloved Mumtaj.

Myth of The Black Taj
Heard about Black Taj? Legend holds that Shah Jahan began laying the foundations for another great mausoleum on the opposite side of the river for himself, though the work was abandoned. Ruins have been discovered by the archaeologists which seem to suggest the authenticity of this viewpoint.

The Taj Mahotsava

Taj Mahotsava or Taj Festival, a mesmerising, scintillating, jovial ten-day event, is held annually at Shilpgram, near Taj Mahal, usually in the month of February. The carnival provides a platform for cultural introduction of India in general and Uttar Pradesh in particular. Agra bursts into colorful celebrations. The state's rich heritage of arts, culture, crafts, cuisine music and dance is displayed in the celebration. The event commences with a grand procession which includes caparisoned elephants and camels, folk artists and drum beaters.

Don't miss food festival, an integral part of the mahotsava. Savour scrumptious dishes prepared by exponents of Indian delicacies.

Quotes Unquotes
Sir Edwin Arnold (Eminent Poet)
Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones.

Rabindranath Tagore (Noble laureate)
A teardrop on the cheek of time.

Salman Rushdie (Writer)
India's Taj Mahal must be seen to remind us that the world is real, that the sound is truer than the echo, the original more forceful than its image in a mirror.

Bill Clinton (Ex US President)
World is divided between those who have seen the Taj (Mahal) and those who have not.

Anthony Weller (Writer)
Several points about the Taj Mahal that astonished me: ... How big it is ... How clean it is ... How symmetrical it is ... How much it matches all its photographs.

Useful Tips
  • There is no limit to the time passed in the Taj Complex. If you wish, you can spend your whole day here, indulging in activities like picknicking, reading or dozing in the panoramic gardens.
  • Official guides are unavailable, but your hotel can provide them. In organised tours, guides usually accompany the tourists.
  • Salesmen and hawkers are not allowed to enter the complex.
  • The ticket office is just outside the western gate. Be careful to bring the right amount of money.
How To Reach The Taj
Taxis/Autos: Auto rickshaws and airconditioned/non-airconditioned taxis are available from railway station, airport and major hotels.
Public Transport: City buses operate to and from the main sites of the city. Deluxe and ordinary coaches are available at the Agra Cant Railway Station.
Other Transport: Tongas and cycle-rickshaws are available from various parts of the city, rates of which are negotiable. Bicycles can also be hired.

Point to Remember: In the Taj area, no diesel and petrol vehicles are allowed. Only unpolluting means of transportation like battery-operated buses, tongas and rickshaws are permitted.