Considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is a tomb built by Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is the most popular tourist attraction in India, with over 11,000 tourists coming to visit on an average day. Similar to Agra Fort, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is open from sunrise to sunset on weekdays except Fridays.
The Taj Mahal stands testimony to one of the greatest love stories in the world. Built during the Mughal supremacy in India, it is touted as one of the most stunning mausoleums by western historians. Some are stunned by its history, while some are fascinated by its beauty and want to explore its mysterious architecture.
According to the history of Taj Mahal, it was the Great Shah Jahan who built this tomb in loving memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan fell in love with Mumtaz, a Muslim Persian princess and they got married. In 1631, she died giving birth to their 14th child. Heartbroken, Shah Jahan decided to construct the monument in 1632 and was finished in 1648 with only the main tomb made. The date of its completion is still a topic for debate. Made out of white marble, this architectural marvel involved 1,000 elephants and 22,000 laborers.
Bordered by a strikingly laid out garden, it consists of five principal parts – Darwaza (main gateway), Bageecha (gardens), Masjid (mosque), Rauza (main tomb), and Naggar Khana (rest house). The Taj complex represents the perfect combination of elements from Islamic, Indian, and Persian architectural styles.
When visiting the Taj, you will first enter the main gateway called The Great Gate or Darwaza-I Rauza. It is located on the south side and is predominantly made of red sandstone with white marble on the domes and arches. The calligraphy and adornments on the arches are similar to that of the Taj complex.
After crossing the Darwaza-I Rauza, you will see the full view of the white marble mausoleum when facing the inner section of the main gate, which is about 200 meters away. The beauty of the building and its reflection on the long waterway will take your breath away.
The central entrance is positioned at the end part of the waterway. The mosque is on one side while the rest house is on the other, primarily built to keep the symmetry. The main structure projects on the square platform with its four corners, forming an asymmetrical octagon. The best part about the Taj’s architecture is that every element retains its individual identity despite merging with the main structure.
Just like other Mughal mausoleums, the false coffins of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are placed in the main chamber, while the true sarcophagi are in the lower level. Natural bright light enters the main chamber via the marble screens resulting in a scenic view.
When visiting the Taj Mahal, visitors should buy their entry ticket at the site. Entry for children below 15 years old is free. Night viewing is permitted during full moon days, except during Fridays or during the Ramadan month. During Fridays, only those who have to offer afternoon prayers inside the mosque are allowed to enter the premises.