The Taj Mahal in Agra is regarded as the peak of Mughal architecture in India and is the most visited and photographed place in India attracting millions of visitors every year.
The ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river represents the symbol of love and on a full moon night the beauty of Taj is said to be breathtaking . It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Some interesting things to know:
- The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1632, to be built in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.
- Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and is believed to have been completed in 1653 over a period of more than 21 years at a cost estimated at the time to be around Rupees 32 million.
- While earlier Mughal monuments primarily used red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones which is visible in Taj Mahal.
- It is said that the main finial was originally made of gold but was replaced by gilded bronze in the early 19th century. The finial is topped by a moon, an Islamic motif whose horns point to heaven.
- The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
- It was described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”.
- It is said that the hands of people who built the Taj were cut off to ensure that no one can replicate the monument.
- The Taj Mahal changes its color with the variations in light throughout the day. It looks pinkish at sunrise, turns into milky white during daytime and it turns into golden in moonlight.
- Soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. It is said that Shah Jahan used to see Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort daily until his death. Upon Shah Jahan’s death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife.
- Best time to visit : October – February.
- Visit early hours in the morning when number of visitors are relatively less.
- It is recommended to enjoy the beauty of Taj Mahal during sunrise or sunset and on full moon nights.
- Taj Mahal is closed on Friday.
- Other monuments not to miss during visit to Agra:
- Fatehpur Sikri ( Pl visit Fatehpur Sikri – rise and abandonment of great Mughal era capital – Part 1 and Fatehpur Sikri Part 2 : Royal Enclosures) for details.
- Agra Fort
- Baby taj
- Akbar Tomb in Sikandra, a suburb of Agra