Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, regarded as one of the wonders of the world, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in India, luring tourists from both India and abroad.

Located in the city of Agra in northern India, the Taj Mahal is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals.

Renowned as ‘The monument of love’, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Arjumand Bano Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631 AD.

Construction of her tomb began in 1633 AD and it took hard work of 20000 workmen, who worked daily for 17 years, to carve this beautiful expression of love into the most flawless architectural creation of the world.

Since 17th century, this magnificent white marble monument has been the source of inspiration for poets, musicians and painters to try and capture its magic in words, songs and colours.

Closed on Fridays




The Taj Mahal Complex

One enters the Taj Mahal complex through an arcaded forecourt where some of Shah Jahan’s queens lie buried. The main entrance is an imposing 30m gateway, which was once guarded with solid silver gates, is a maze of marble carving and bears quotations from Koran, the holy book of Islam, one of which invites ‘the pure in the heart to the gardens of paradise’ and another one translates into ‘O soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him and He be at peace with you.’

The Taj Mahal stands at the end of a long walkway from here and draws visitors to it by its sheer beauty.


Surrounded by landscaped gardens, laid in traditional Mughal ‘charbagh’ style, the Taj Mahal stands on a six metre high marble plinth framed beautifully by four minarets in each corner. The marble plinth stands on a high red sandstone platform.

Not very far are two identical red sandstone structures, a mosque to the West and its ‘jawab’ or echo the east which was the ‘mehmanghar’ or the guesthouse.

The final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal is in the lower chamber, right below the cenotaph. The Emperor himself, after his death in 1666AD, was laid to rest next to his beloved queen.

The most amazing bit about Taj Mahal is its fine detailing. The ornate marble screen, surrounding the cenotaphs in the central hall, is carved so fine that it almost looks like lace.  Flowers are the main decorative element as the tomb was meant to depict a paradise garden. Semi-precious stones have been so skilfully inlaid that it is impossible to find joints anywhere.

Taj Mahal is said to have its moods varying with the change of seasons and times of day… seducing the viewers throughout with its simply alluring architectural beauty.

However, undoubtedly, Taj Mahal looks even more beautiful at dawn and sunset and seems to glow in the soft light of a full moon.


Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Arjumand Bano Begum was married at the age of 21 to Emperor Jehangir’s son Prince Khurram, who since very early age displayed great military skills against numerous enemies and was thus showered with the title of ‘Shah Jahan Bahadur’ or brave king of the world by his father.

Arjumand Bano Begum was a dedicated wife and stood loyally by Shah Jahan through thick and thin, in luxurious palaces as well as in the tents of war camps.

In 1628 AD, Shah Jahan succeeded his father Jehangir and gave the title of ‘Mumtaz Mahal’, which means Jewel of the palace, to his favourite queen.

Shah Jahan’s love for his queen and her dedication towards the Emperor was popular all around and the Emperor would take along his queen wherever he would go.


In 1631 AD, Shah Jahan accompanied by Mumtaz Mahal, went on a campaign to the South. Mumtaz Mahal, who had borne Shah Jahan 14 children of whom eventually four sons and three daughters survived, died at the age of 31 at Burhanpur during childbirth.

Mumtaz Mahal was interred for the time being in a garden on the banks of Tapti River in Burhanpur.

Inconsolable and grieving Shah Jahan declared royal mourning for two years. There was no music, no feasts and no celebrations at all of any kind.

It is said that while expressing her last wish to Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal asked him not to have any more children by any other woman and to build a tomb for her as the world had never seen before.

In 1633 AD, Shah Jahan decided to build a mausoleum for his queen at a garden by the Yamuna River. The garden was laid by Raja Man Singh of Amber and at the time belonged to his grandson Raja Jai Singh. Shah Jahan gave Jai Singh four royal havelis in exchange for the garden.

The site was so chosen as it had a beautiful and serene backdrop of Yamuna and could be seen from Shah Jahan’s personal palace in Agra Fort.

The most skilled architects, craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons from all across India as well as foreign shores such as Persia and Turkey were employed.

Twenty Thousand workmen worked daily for good long 17 years to carve out this magnificent monument of love which leaves a deep impression on the hearts of the visitors even today. A small town named Mumtazabad now known as Taj Ganj was built close to Taj Mahal’s site to accommodate these workmen.

It is said that Shah Jahan, who was otherwise known to be a great and compassionate Mughal king, got arms of the workmen chopped off after the construction of the Taj Mahal was completed so that they could never ever build another such beautiful and flawless monument.

Later, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort by his own son Aurangzeb, who then took over the reign of the Mughal Empire and ruled for next fifty years. It is said that Shah Jahan would keep gazing at the Taj Mahal through a small hole in the wall of the cell he was imprisoned in.

After his death in 1666 AD, Shah Jahan was laid to rest besides his dearest queen Mumtaz Mahal.



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