Taj Mahal, one of the glorious 7 wonders of the world is a jewelled crown of the country. Its majestic structure attracts millions of tourists from across the world, every year. What makes the Taj Mahal stand apart from other monuments is its white marbled exteriors and tall minarets. Its sheer beauty and huge structure is captivating and oozes exquisite Mughal architecture. It is situated in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Though everyone is spellbound with its beauty, not many perhaps know the Taj Mahal’s history. Behind this wonderful monument is a love story that is eternally etched in Indian history for years to come.
The history of the Taj Mahal
During the 1600s, there was a Mughal emperor named Shah Jahan who fell in love with a beautiful Princess of Persian descent, Arjumand Bano Begum. Captivated by her beauty, he decided to marry her. After their marriage, he changed her name to Mumtaz Mahal which translates as “Jewel of the Palace”. Though the emperor had many wives, she was his favourite amongst all and he was deeply in love with her. The two of them were inseparable, hence he would take her on all his tours and also sought her advice in political matters. Tragically, in the year 1631, Mumtaz Mahal passed away during the birth of their 14th child. Shah Jahan was devastated due to the death of his dear wife and hence in her memory, he decided to build a tomb that would be the most beautiful and majestic in the entire world. The construction started in the year 1632 and was finally completed in 1653. It took a total of 22,000 labourers to finish this mausoleum and in today’s date, it would have cost a whopping $1bn. As they say, one cannot put a price tag on love.
Interesting facts about the Taj Mahal
- The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, but it took 21 years and thousands of artisans, craftsmen and labourers to make it what it is today.
- There is a common myth that Shah Jahan had the hands of the labourers cut off so that they would never make such a beautiful monument for anyone else. Maybe that’s why this monument is so unique and stands different from the rest of the world.
- Another interesting fact about the Taj Mahal is that there are many inscriptions from the holy Quran etched on the walls. The beautiful calligraphy is certainly an eye-catcher.
- The most impressive fact about the Taj Mahal is the blend of different architectural styles. It draws inspiration from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman and Hindu architecture.
- The emperor and his beloved wife are both buried inside the catacomb.
- The Taj Mahal changes colours throughout the day. It looks pinkish in the morning and a stunning white in the evenings. Under the moonlight, it shines a bright golden hue.
- Shah Jahan had wanted to build a similar palace in black right opposite to the white one but had to drop the idea due to the clashes with his sons.
- A record 1000 elephants had to transport the construction materials to the site.
- The minarets don’t stand straight and are tilted slightly outwards so that if in the case of a natural calamity, it falls, it does not damage the tomb.
The sections of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal has 5 sections:
- The moonlit garden (Mehtab Bagh) is situated north of the river Yamuna.
- Riverfront terrace that includes the guest house, mausoleum and mosque.
- The Naubhat Khana, the western part of which is converted into a museum.
- The Jilau Khana has accommodations for the tomb guards.
- Taj Ganji, a Caravansary and bazaar which has crumbled and only a few traces are left of it now.
The main attraction at the Taj Mahal is the tomb built in the centre. Built with white sangemarmar (marble), it is 50 feet above the riverbank to ensure there is no seepage.
Best time to visit
The months between May to July must be skipped due to excessive heat and not many people visit the monument during this time. The ideal time to visit is between October to February since the weather is pleasant. During the monsoon, the Taj Mahal is a sight to behold surrounded by lush green gardens and the beautifully flowing Yamuna River.
The Taj Mahal is open from 6 am to 7 pm but one must keep in mind that the palace is shut on Fridays since the mosque is open for prayers and tourists aren’t allowed entry.
Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal
- Since the place is brimming with tourists and one is looking towards avoiding the crowd, then early morning is the perfect time to visit.
- Tourists shouldn’t carry any expensive items. Snacks are not allowed and lockers are provided in case anyone has to store anything.
- Keep track of the exit and entry points, they are slightly confusing. Make sure to not get lost.
- Instead of going for the same old pictures taken in front of the Taj Mahal, try an aesthetic picture from across the lake. Will take more time and cost a little money, but will be worth the outcome.
- The Taj Mahal tickets are priced at INR 50 for Indian tourists and INR 1100 for foreigners.
- Tickets can be booked online and tourists are required to carry their ID cards.
By Flight: Agra is connected to almost all the major cities in the country by flight. Although the only airline connecting Agra to the other cities is Air India. Since there is no International Airport, tourists can take a flight to Delhi or Mumbai and then take a flight or train to reach Agra. The distance between Delhi and Agra is 200 km.
By Train: Some trains regularly ply between Agra and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. The nearest Railway station is the Agra Cantt railway station and tourists can hire autos and taxis to visit the tourist destinations.
By Bus: There are two major bus stations in Agra, Idgah bus stand and ISBT. The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport (UPSRTC) buses regularly run between Delhi and Agra. The distance between Delhi and Agra is 230 km and the journey is 5 hours. Agra bus tickets can be bought online to avoid last-minute hassles. UPSRTC buses to Agra are luxurious and convenient. redBus offers good deals on bus tickets to Agra and can be booked in advance to save time and skip the long queues. One can choose according to their budget. There are many options like AC/Non-AC Sleeper, AC/Non-AC semi sleeper and AC/Non-AC seater.
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