Famous poet Rabindranath Tagore portrayed it as ‘a teardrop on the cheek of the universe’ and Rudyard Kipling called it ‘the embodiment of all things pure’. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan famously said – “it made the moon and the sun drop tears on it”. What is it that we are talking about? Of course the one and only Taj Mahal, a monument built out of immense love and memory, a monument that made hundreds of thousands of people bow down to their knees, a monument that made the city of Agra a famous and widely visited tourist spot in India. It is a place where you’ll fall in love with the Mughal Era and pleasure yourself with the architecture and royalty. And have you seen Taj Mahal at night? If not, then let us tell you it is one of the most magnificent sights ever!
About The Taj Mahal In India
People widely consider it as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Located in the historical city of Agra, the Taj Mahal is called as the ‘symbol of love’. A wide range of visitors come around admiring the beauty of the monument and appreciate the architecture. Taj Mahal is known as the Crown of Palaces in Persian, giving a breathtaking sight to its aficionados.
Regarded as one of the finest illustrations of Mughal architecture in India, Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best parts of visiting the Taj Mahal is to appreciate the elegance of aptness of extents and luxuriousness of geometrical prototypes of such gracefully done gardens that enhance the dignity of the Taj Mahal, adding glory to the slenderness of this symbol of love, perseverance and beauty.
Best Time To Visit Taj Mahal
One is advised to visit the Taj either during sunrise or sunset since these two timings in the day provide breathtaking views of this monument against the colors of the sky. Also, one should visit Agra between October to March as the weather is perfect for sightseeing and the scorching heat won’t bother travelers who come to visit the Taj.
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History Of Taj Mahal
The famous Taj Mahal story always tends to intrigue listeners! The Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who is said to have passed away after giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Call it a symbol of immense love, the emperor was left so heartbroken that his hair turned grey eventually in grief. That’s when he decided to build a memorial in her memory and the construction began the following year, 1632.
It is said that the main building took eight years to finish. The whole monument wasn’t completed until 1653. The sad part is, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his own son Aurangzeb soon after the building was finished. He was imprisoned inside the Agra Fort for the rest of his life where he used to look at his remarkable creation through the window, admiring it and remembering his beloved Mumtaz. He died in 1666 and was buried alongside his wife Mumtaz inside the tomb of Taj Mahal.
It is said that over 20,000 people from India and Central Asia were recruited to work on the architecture. Shah Jahan was keen to bring some specialists from Europe to produce the delicate white marbles and pietra dura (marble inlay work), which was made up of thousands of semiprecious stones. In the year 1983, the Taj was given a highly reputed designation and it was recognized as a World Heritage Site. It underwent a big restoration project in the early 20th century. It is not just the beauty of this glittering white marble structure but also the Taj Mahal history that attract people from around the world to Agra.
Interesting Facts About Taj Mahal
Any Taj Mahal information is incomplete without mentioning some interesting details about this place. Being one of the seven wonders of the world itself makes the Taj Mahal location an interesting spot to visit and explore. But here are some of the facts that we didn’t know about earlier. Let’s dig some of them:
- There is one small hole located on the ceiling of the main hall right above the tombstone of Shah Jahan’s beloved Mumtaz Mahal. Seems like there is a flaw in the magnificent Taj. It is said that one of the artisans decided to sabotage the emperor’s dream of having a flawless monument, so he made a hole which is perpendicular to the tombstone of the queen.
- The minarets were built leaning outwards. It was done so to protect the monument from natural calamities like earthquakes. It’s just a matter of keen observing and you’ll notice that the four minarets are leaning outwards. It was done to ensure the safety of the tomb.
- There was a temple built and named after the infamous and one of the biggest Indian conman Natwarlal who apparently had sold the grandiose Taj Mahal at least thrice to some wealthy individuals. The infamous Natwarlal is widely known for selling the Taj repeatedly so his native villagers decided to build a temple on his name with his statue.
- The groundwork of the Taj would have worn out years ago if it hadn’t been for the Yamuna River. The foundation was actually not ever-lasting. The wood used would have rotten over time and eventually ruined. Thanks to the Yamuna river, it kept the wood strong and moist.
- The illustrious interior of Taj can blind any with its magnificent decorative work. The inside of Taj Mahal is made up of different kinds of extremely rare and very precious stones, sourced from different parts of the world including China, Sri Lanka, Tibet and some parts of India. The British era had violated the monument a number of times because of these stones. The restoration work started in the late 19th century. It’s fair to say anyone would be blinded by the richness of the mahal.
- It is strange but it is a fact that the magnificent Mahal is quite taller than Delhi’s heritage monument – the Qutub Minar. The lofty Taj is actually five feet taller than Delhi’s Qutub Minar. Strange but true.
- If we ever decide to find out how expensive the Taj Mahal would be now, it sure will take a breath away. Shah Jahan had spent around 32 million rupees on the architecture during that time. If we do the calculations keeping the present rate in mind, the amount would be around 1,062,834,098 USD. Quite Expensive!
- In the year 2000, the famous Indian magician PC Sorkar Jr. vanished the whole of Taj by his optical illusion trick. One of his greatest tricks – this had completely astonished his audience.
- The Taj is visited by over 12,000 people every day.
- Had Aurangzeb not imprisoned his father – the emperor Shah Jahan, we might be able to see another Taj Mahal, a black Taj Mahal. Yes, emperor Shah Jahan had a desire to build a black Taj Mahal for himself, just like the one he built for his beloved Mumtaz. According to the historians and experts, Shah Jahan had begun to erect his own tomb, but could not get on with it as his son dethroned and imprisoned him.
- The monument changes colors. Depending on the light outside and the time of the day, the monument can appear to change its colors. The beautiful Taj will look a little pink in the morning, white in the day time and golden-ish after the sun sets.
- More than 1,00 elephants used to transport the heavy supplies and materials that were going to be used in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
- A Bangladeshi filmmaker created a replica of the Taj Mahal in the year 2008 so that locals can enjoy it in their own country and they don’t have to travel to India to witness it. It cost him around US 56 Million Dollars.
- In 2007, the Taj Mahal was declared as one of the Seven Wonders Of The World by bagging 100 million votes. This increased the inflow of tourists double-fold.
Taj Mahal Timings And Entry Fee
Taj Mahal, Agra timing is not set. The Taj opens 30-45 minutes before the sunrise and closes its gates about 30 minutes before the sunset each day. Also, one should note that the Taj Mahal remains closed on Fridays for public viewing.
The entry fee for this monument differs for the citizens of different countries. The normal fee structure is such:
Foreign nationals: INR 1100/- per person
SAARC and BIMSTEC nationals: INR 540/- per person
Indian nationals: INR 50/-
Main Mausoleum: INR 200/-
Note: Photography and videography are permitted inside the premises, but not inside the mausoleum. Tripods are strictly forbidden. Make sure you remove or cover your shoes before entering.
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8 Places To Visit Near Taj Mahal
Though the Taj is everything needed to soothe your eyes, here are a few places that you might want to consider on your trip to Agra:
1. Agra Fort
A famous tourist place near the Taj, Agra Fort is the place where Shah Jahan was imprisoned for the rest of his life. A beauty to admire, this fort was built by Emperor Akbar in the year 1565. It is made up of red sandstone and it is also regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Location: Agra Fort, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003
2. Akbar’s Tomb
Located in Sikandra, Akbar’s Tomb is the resting place of Emperor Akbar. It is only 13km from the Agra Fort. It was completed by Akbar’s son Jahangir and it has 99 names of Allah inscribed on it. The architecture is different than other Mughal monuments, yet quite fascinating which is why it is one of the best places to visit in Agra.
Location: Tomb of Akbar The Great Area, Sikandra, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282007
3. Mankameshwar Temple
Located at a fair distance of about 2.5 km from Taj Mahal and about a 1 km away from the popular Agra Fort, you’ll discover one of those four famous and pristine temples that are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Each of these are standing on each of the four corners of Agra and are an unmissable part of your itinerary. The temple is surrounded by the markets of the ancient Mughal era.
Location: Daresi Rd, Rawatpara, Sheb Bazar, Mantola, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003
4. Ram Bagh
It was built by Babur in 1528 and it is considered to be the oldest Mughal Garden in India. It is located on the banks of the Yamuna river, less than 3 km away from the Taj Mahal. A visit to Ram Bagh is soothing and a must if you are visiting the Taj. This garden was earlier called the Aram Bagh, or the Garden of Relaxation in literal terms before being renamed.
Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282006
The holy city of Vrindavan awaits your presence as it is one of the most pious pilgrimages in India. If you happen to be a firm devotee of Lord Krishna, this place is your heaven on earth as there are several temples in Vrindavan. It is said to be home to around 4,000 temples, each telling epic tales of Lord Krishna.
Location: Uttar Pradesh
6. Fatehpur Sikri
A visit to Agra definitely calls for a visit to the imperial city of the Mughal Dynasty, that is, Fatehpur Sikri. One can witness beautiful alchemy of different architectural styles and the concept of Islamic designs in the mausoleums, buildings, arches, and columns. There are several places to visit in Fatehpur Sikri and the best ones are Diwan-I-Aam, Diwan-I-Khas, Jodha Bai’s Palace, and Panch Mahal.
7. Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb
It is Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb which is considered as the precursor of the Taj Mahal for its intricate carvings and inlay work. It has octagonal-shaped minarets that support the structure, arched entrances, inlay work, and floral patterns carved all over the structure. Due to minute marble screen-work, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb has attracted the attention of several tourists as well as historians. A few people are aware of the fact that this tomb was the inspiration behind the construction of the Taj Mahal. No doubt, exploring Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb is one of the top things to do in Agra.
Location: Moti Bagh, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282006
8. Dayal Bagh
Agra is full of architectural vistas to explore and one such place is Dayal Bagh. It is a structure of 110 feet height and it is built with pure marble. While exploring the place, one can witness the famous pieta-dura inlay work that enhances the true beauty of this place. The followers of Radha Swami must be aware of this place as it houses the samadhi of Swamiji Maharaj, the founder of Radha Swami.
Location: Agra District
How To Reach Taj Mahal
As Agra is well-connected with the major cities of India via different transports, it has never been difficult to reach the Taj Mahal. So, here are the main ways to reach this ‘symbol of love’:
Agra is equipped with its own airport which is approximately 7 kilometers away from the city center. This is the fastest way to reach Agra from any part of India or the world. As several airlines travel here regularly, it is not difficult to find a ticket on one of the Indian airlines. From the airport, you can hire a taxi to reach the Taj Mahal.
Agra connects very well with the rest of the country via railway. The main railhead here is Agra Cantonment and there are two other railway stations – Agra Fort and Raja ki Mandi. Some of the most popular trains plying to nearby cities are Taj Express, Shatabdi, Palace on Wheels, and Rajdhani. There are cab or taxi services easily available at the premises to reach your further location.
If you are traveling from any nearby city, then the best option is to plan an amazing road trip to Agra. Moreover, A/C buses, non-A/C buses, and state buses also ply between close places like Mathura, Delhi, and Jaipur. So, one can opt for bus service or drive themselves to Agra.
Intrigued? We bet you are. Now just take a trip to Agra and marvel at this magnificent piece of our heritage that speaks volumes about our past. Discover what secrets it holds and what makes it irresistible for those visiting India. And if you know anything more about the Taj Mahal that you feel should be included in this guide, let us know in the comments below.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Taj Mahal
Q. Why was the Taj Mahal built?
A. Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Q. How many Taj Mahal are there in India?
A. There is just one Taj Mahal in the world, but there is a replica of the Taj made by Emperor Shah Jahan’s grandson, Prince Aazam Shah. He had built it in the memory of his mother, Dilras Banu Begum. It is known as the Bibi Ka Maqbara which means ‘Tomb of the Lady’. Its resemblance to the Taj Mahal also got it the name ‘Taj of the Deccan’. Bibi Ka Maqbara is located in Aurangabad of Maharashtra.
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