Taj Mahal, Agra

Featured ImageCC BY 2.0 by Ninara

Taj Mahal is an astonishing mausoleum in India that was built in 1632-1653 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his most affectionate wife Mumtaz Mahal, which is a paradise for tourists who visit India to find architectural beauty. Located in the Indian city of Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh, this monument is the best example of intricate architecture.

One among the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is entirely built-in pure ivory-white marble known as Sangemarmar stone. It is among the most visited places in India and around 7-8 million tourists head towards this wonderful monument annually. A symbol of true love, affection, and bonding is one among the romantic tourism attractions in the World.

Location of the Taj Mahal-

Located on the southern banks of India’s second holiest river the Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is a jewel of the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh state of northern India. Due to its prominent location in the plains, it has very easy connectivity with the other parts of the country through railways and road transports. Agra, the fourth most populated and the fourth largest city in Uttar Pradesh houses this gem of the world.

Distances of Agra from major cities of the country are- Kanpur- 263 km, Lucknow- 323 km, Varanasi- 573 km, Allahabad- 450 km, Delhi- 202 km, Mumbai- 1185 km, Kolkata- 1244 km, Chennai- 1816 km, Jaipur- 232 km, Ahmedabad- 829 km, Bhopal- 504 km and Indore- 612 km.

Taj Near River Yamuna-Image By–  Geoff C C by CC BY- 2.0

History of the Taj Mahal-

The construction of the Taj Mahal was initialized by the orders of the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1631, the reason being the memory of his most affectionate wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died on 17 June 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child named Gauhara Begum.

After the orders in 1631, the actual construction of this monument got initiated in the year 1632 and lasted for about 21 years till 1653. Although the main mausoleum’s work got finished by the year 1643, but the construction of other buildings and gardens extended for about 10 years more.

Image ByYann CC BY- 2.0

In recent times, the Mathura Oil Refinery caused severe emissions leading to a yellow-brown color of the Taj. So, the factory was banned by the Supreme Court and Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) was set up by the government. TTZ is a 4,000 sq.m. area which has various restrictions on air pollutants like factories.Covering of the tomb was done thrice in the past times to save the Taj from threats. Firstly, in 1942, during the air attacks by the Japanese Air Force. And, then in 1965 and 1971 during the Indo-Pakistan wars, to mislead bomber pilots.

Taj Mahal was declared as one of the wonders of the world at a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal on July 07, 2007, by Bipasha Basu and the Mayor of Agra was awarded.

Some Myths-

Various myths are prevalent in society regarding the background and the history of the Taj Mahal. Most of these got arose by unconfirmed rumors spread by people of that era and continue till date.

The most common one is that the artisans of the Taj were made to sign contracts for not indulging in the creation of a similarly designed monument in the future and their thumbs and hands were cut off by Shah Jahan. Although, no solid evidence from the past exists for this.

Taj Mahal is also said to be a Hindu temple named Tejo Mahalaya dedicated to Lord Shiva in the past, and the Hindu Ruler Parmar dev in 1196, constructed the Taj Mahal after demolishing the Shiva Temple. However, these myths were cleared when courts suspended such appeals.

Another myth exists that Shah Jahan had a plan to construct a Black Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River, just opposite to the Taj Mahal for housing his mausoleum, but Aurangzeb, his son deceived him and he died before the plan could be executed.

Image By – archer10 (Dennis) CC By SA 2.0

The Architecture and the Construction-

Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the architect in the Shah Jahan’s court, was the main architect of the Taj and all the artisans, embroiderers, laborers, and painters were led by him to accomplish the construction. It is built in the Persian and the Mughal styles of architecture.

The Taj complex spreads over an area of 17 hectares, and the main dome makes it reach a height of 73 meters. The main tomb is made on a platform of 3 hectares area that rises about 50 meters from the river bank.

Entrance Gate Image By- Dcastor

The main material used for its construction is the white marble along with 28 precious gems and stones embroidered in it to enhance its elegance. These materials were brought from pan Asia like marble from Makrana, Rajasthan, crystal from China, jasper from Punjab, and sapphire from Sri Lanka.

Use of more than 1000 elephants for material transport, rigorous hard work of 22,000 artisans and laborers, cost estimated to 32 million Indian Rupees, 21 long years (1632-53) and the deep passion of Shah Jahan is what it took for the construction of such a colossal marvel of beauty.

The lush green garden called Charbagh or the Mughal Gardens are surrounded around the tomb over a square area of side 300 meters. These gardens have various features like the pathways, fountains, and various plants and trees that make the entire complex similar to a paradise.

The main attraction of the whole Taj complex is the central beautiful tomb. It is a large structure on a square plinth with an iwan which is an arch-shaped doorway. The dome over this tomb is around 35 meters high and is referred as the Onion Dome due to its shape resembling an onion. Four small domed kiosks surround the main central dome. The base of the tomb is a truncated cube from corners and each side measuring 55 meters.

Main Tomb Image By- Ninara CC BY 2.0

Four minarets reaching to a height of 40 meters stand at the corners of the square plinth. Each minaret has three equal divisions, two working balconies which are used to ring the tower. The structure was made demolition proof by the construction of minarets out of plinth. By the virtue of this type of construction, during the event of a collapse, the minarets will tend to fall away from the main tomb. 

The interior architecture of the Taj includes the false sarcophagi of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal housed inside the main chamber. The actual ones lie just beneath these and are restricted for the visit of people. 25 meters high walls are decorated with intricate calligraphy and various designs of jaali work and Pietra dura.

False Graves to Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan Image By- Maahmaah CC BY SA 3.0

The exterior decoration of the main tomb is among the finest ones in the world. Calligraphy, carvings, stucco, and stone inlaying are some of the features that take the look to the next level.

Other Places in the Taj Mahal Complex-

Walls made of red sandstone covers the Taj Mahal complex from three sides, except the open side facing the river. The main entrance gateway made in marble has similar arches to the main mausoleum and is decorated with calligraphy.

Along the eastern and the western side of the Taj Mahal, lie two identical buildings built in red sandstone. The one on the western side is a mosque and that on the east is a complimentary building named Jawab (answer) made to balance the architectural symmetry. Probably, it was used as a guest house.

Although, these buildings look similar but have some distinctions like the Jawab lacks the Mihrab (a feature of Mecca facing mosque’s wall) and the Mosque has a design of a long hall with three domes and 569 praying platforms made in black marble.

Interior Hall of Mosque Image ByBjørn Christian Tørrissen CC BY SA 3.0

How to reach there?

ADDRESS- Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

PIN Code-282001

Contact no. 0562 222 7261

  • From Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Airport, Agra the distance of the Taj Mahal is around 13 km from the Mall Road and around 16 km via the Bypass Road. These distances can be covered by cars or taxis within 45 minutes on a normal day.
  • From Agra Railway Station, the Taj Mahal is about 6 km apart, and this distance can be covered within 20 minutes by a taxi or a car.
  • The nearest Bus Stand to the Taj Mahal is Agra Idgah Bus Stand, which is around 5.5 km and can be covered within 20 minutes on a normal day.
  • Various public transports like buses and autorickshaws are also available from the various parts of the city to the Taj Mahal.
  • Polluting vehicles are not permitted in the close vicinity of the Taj complex and tourists must either walk or catch an electric bus from the parking area.

Three Domed Mosque Image By- Dcastor 

Entry Fee-

  • For the Indian Tourists, the fee is INR 50/- for adults.
  • For the tourists of SAARC and BIMSTEC visitors, the entry fee is INR 540/- for adults.
  • For Foreign tourists, the fee is INR 1100/- for adults.
  • For the children (both domestic and foreigner) below the age of 15 years, there is no Entry Fee.
  • There will be an additional discount of Rs.5/- (Indians) & Rs. 50/- (foreigners) for online bookings.
  • There is an extra fee of INR 200/- if one wants to visit the main Mausoleum located underground, lying beneath the false grave.
  • For five days in a month, Night viewing of the Taj Mahal is also available. These five days are the Full Moon night and two days pre and post the Full Moon Night.
  • The cost of tickets for Night Viewing are INR 510/- for Indian adults, INR 500/- for children (3-15 years), and INR 750/- for Foreign Visitors.
  • The tickets for night viewing can be purchased one night before, from the office of ASI, 22 Mall Road Agra, from 10 am to 6 pm.

Inscriptions on the Taj Image By- Teufel1987 CC BY-SA 3.0

Timings-

  • The Taj is closed on every Friday and is only accessible in the afternoon for the Muslims to attend Prayer.
  • On every Friday in the Month of Ramzan, the Night Viewing of the Taj Mahal is closed.
  • The timings of the Taj Mahal are from the sunrise to sunset every day, except Fridays.
  • The opening time is around 6 am in the morning to about 6:30 pm in the evening.
  • The timings for Night Viewing of the Taj Mahal are from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am, on nights which have scheduled night watching.

Best Time to Visit Taj Mahal-

Although this scintillating piece of architecture attracts the tourists round the year to witness its beauty, it would be better to avoid the hot summer months of April- June for the itinerary. At this time, heat is at its zenith and makes the journey too exhausting.

Else, all other months of the year are perfect for a visit to the Taj and admire its beauty. Try to visit during the early morning or during the evenings to witness an added beauty of sprinkling sunlight on the white marble. For the night view of the Taj, plan your trip during the five days period near the Full Moon Night.

Evening View Image By- B.Ramana Kumar CC By SA 4.0

Festivals and Celebrations-

Taj Mahotsav- This is the most famous festival of Agra, organized for 10 days in the month of February. Various attractions of the Taj Mahotsav are camels and elephants ride, traditional performances by local artists, varieties of food, musical performances, folk dances, poetry, art and craft presentations, and much more. It takes place between 18-27 February, at Shilpgram, Agra.

Shah Jahan’s Urs– Celebrations of this urs take place annually on 25th, 26th, and 27th day of Islamic month Rajab. These celebrations take place in the Taj Mahal.

The other celebrations that take place in Agra city are Ram Baraat, Bateshwar Fair, Sheetla Fair, and Kailash Fair. The Taj Mahal is a prime location for the shooting of various movie scenes and songs in Bollywood and other Film Industries of India.

Travel Tip-

The best view of the Taj can be seen at the time of sunrise or at the time of sunset when the air is cool and pleasant with less crowd in the premises. The night viewing should not be missed if possible. The shine of the moon’s light gives the monument an edge of beauty and an auspicious feeling is experienced. The visit should be avoided in the summers as the heat is too exhausting. Various nearby places like Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri, Chini Ka Rauza, Ram Bagh, Itimad-ud-Daula’s Tomb, and Agra Fort should be covered to save the time in a day.

Location on Map-

1 thought on “Taj Mahal, Agra”

  1. This is real beauty. I visited this last summer and I am making a plan to visit India again. TRuly Mesmerised by spicy tangy tasty food of India!

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