Located at the alluvial plains between the Yamuna and Ganga, the city of Agra had been a commercial and religious center spanning centuries. Although it perfected itself only when the Mughals made the city their preferred choice of settling down in India. Agra proudly boasts of being home to Taj Mahal, the timeless masterpiece and one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Taj Mahal- A Shining Symbol
Never mind what you have heard about Taj Mahal, the moment you see it, it is “love at first sight”. The monument, built centuries ago, still stands tall with its majestic architecture, surrounded by the gushing water canals, the beautiful fountain and the perfect symmetry of Charbagh Gardens.
Sneak Peek into the History of Taj
Emperor Shah Jahan, they say, was devoted to his wife of 19 years, Mumtaz Mahal. The queen bore him eight sons and six daughters. In June 1631, in the painful labour of her youngest daughter, the 38-year-old Mumtaz died. And it is said that almost instantly work on the Taj began.
Tons of white marble were shipped from a place called Markana in Rajasthan and the red sandstone was lugged from Fatehpur Sikri. The precious stone inlay work
required lapis lazuli from Ceylon, jasper from Cambay, malachite from Russia, turquoise from Tibet and so on. Famous jewelers and craftsmen flocked to the city from every part of the country as well as from places like Kandahar, Samarkand, Baghdad, and Constantinople.
Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Persia and Syria, workers from Southern India as well as stonecutters from Baluchistan worked with almost 20,000 laborers for 12 years continuously to complete the plinth and tomb and another 10 for completing the mosque, the minarets, and the gateway. If we tend to calculate the total cost of construction of Taj Mahal today, it will be translated into some trillions of dollars. Shah Jahan died in 1666 and was interred in the Taj beside Mumtaz.
It will be a useless thing to say that Taj Mahal is a must visit attraction on your Agra trip. It remains open from sunrise to sunset on all days except Fridays. The entry charge for foreigners is INR 1000 and for Indians, it is INR 40.
The best months to explore the beauty of Taj is from November to February and you can visit the place during dusk or dawn as at both these times, the sight of Taj Mahal is nothing short of spectacular.
Once you are inside the premises, you can buy the self-guided tour or take help from a local guide to know more about the place. The Taj Mahal can be viewed at night too. During the full moon and two days before and after that, i.e., 5 days in total, you can book tickets for night viewing of the Taj Mahal. The exquisite view of the Taj under the full moon is absolutely magical and this is one experience you can’t afford to miss when you are here.
To cater to the large number of tourists, the city of Agra is home to a large number of accommodation options. From cheap hotels to five-star properties, travelers can choose from these options as per their budget and requirements.
Some Interesting Tidbits
Here are some lesser-known facts about Taj Mahal which are quite intriguing and interesting at the same time.
The Man Behind the Lenses
Everyone sees Taj Mahal as the epitome of love by Emperor Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal, his wife. Not many of us know that the main design of this beautiful architecture was conceptualized by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the famous architect of that era.
The Black Taj
It is said that once the construction of Taj Mahal was completed, Shah Jahan was keen on building an identical Taj Mahal of black marble. He wished to have this new structure in close proximity to the white Taj. However, this led to his imprisonment by Aurangzeb, his own son who was more interested in saving his empire rather than fulfilling his father’s extravagant demands.
Taj Mahal is globally recognized for its awe-inspiring design and for precise calculations and detailing. One such example is that all the four sides of the monument, externally and internally, are mirror images of each other. Interesting, isn’t it? However, the only exception is the tombs of the inner chamber.
What are you waiting for? Go and soak up the unparalleled beauty of Taj!