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Taj Mahal India
|Location:||On the banks of river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India|
|Year of Construction:||1631- 1653|
|Built By:||Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan|
|Spread Over:||42 acres|
|Significance:||One of the Seven Wonders of the World|
In the city of Agra in India, the white marble mausoleum is located, which goes by the name of Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan, the mughal emperor built this building in memory of Mumtaj Mahal, his third wife. Taj Mahal is being recognised as the jewel of India in terms of muslim architectural style and is a world recognized heritage site. Taj Mahal presents the best example of how the architectural significance was laid down and it also represented the styles of Indian, Turkish and Persian architecture. Taj Mahal was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1983. The monument appears as a domed structure, but the details are far vivid and contain an integrated structure. The construction of Taj Mahal began in the year 1632 and it took around 22 years for completion in 1653 under the rule of Shah Jahan. For the construction, a board of architects was hired for supervising the work of construction in which thousands of labourers, both skilled and unskilled were utilized. Some of the famous architects responsible for the construction work were Makramat Khan, Abdul Karim Ma’mur Khan and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, of which the Lahauri was the principal designer.
Construction Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal occupied a place in the southern part of the city of Agra. To get the land from Maharaja Jai Singh, Shah Jahan gave him a large palace in the centre of Agra. In this land, an area of about 3 acres was dug and leveled at a height of about 50 mts above the river banks, so that it would reduce seepage. The base of the tomb stood on pillars that were based deep inside the wells dug for this purpose. Scaffolding, similar to the plan of the land was constructed in bricks, which became so large that it was thought to be dismantled over a period of years. But, since Shah Jahan decreed that the bricks from this dismantling can be kept by anyone, it was dismantled over night. Specially designed bullock carts were utilized to carry the marbles and construction materials. Post beam pulley system was used for the purpose of raising large blocks to heights. Water was, similarly gathered for being utilized by special mechanism, into large storage tanks.
It took 12 years for the plinth and the tomb only to complete. The rest of the whole Taj Mahal complex took about 10 more years and included minarets, mosque, jawab and gateway. The different stages of completion have resulted in differences in the dates of completion which is also the same reason for the discrepancies in the total estimate of expenditure on the entire complex. At that time of construction, the total cost was estimated to be 32 million rupees.
To construct the Taj Mahal, materials were brought from all over India and Asia, for the transportation of which more than 1000 elephants were utilized. White marble was arranged from Makrana in Rajasthan, from Punjab the jasper was brought, while the jade and crystal was brought from china. Lapis lazuli was brought from Afghanistan, turquoise was brought from Tibet, and sapphire from Sri Lanka and from Arabia, the carnelian was brought. About 28 types of various stones of precious and semi precious categories were laid into the white marble.
Twenty thousand workers were recruited for the labor force from the north Indian regions. From Bukhara, the sculptors were brought, calligraphers were hired from Syria and Persia, southern India provided the inlayers, stonecutters were brought from Baluchistan, etc. A creative unit was formed consisting of thirty-seven men, of which one was a specialist in the building of turrets and another person was there, who specialized in carving marble flowers only.
The Great History
After the Taj Mahal was completed, Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jahan put him out of the throne and kept him under house arrest in the Agra Fort. On his death, Aurangzeb buried Shah Jahan in the Mausoleum of Taj Mahal near his wife’s tomb.
By the arrival of 19th century, the different parts of Taj Mahal needed repair. In the Indian rebellion of 1857, the British forces defaced the exterior and destroyed the inside. Lapis lazuli and many other precious stones were taken out by the British soldiers. It was in the end of 19th century that Lord Curzon, the British viceroy ordered for its restoration which completed in 1908. A large lamp was put in the interior chamber, which was in style of a similar one in a Cairo mosque. British style lawns were put up in the garden area surrounding the original building, which can be seen even today.
Rules and Regulations at the Taj Mahal
Rules and regulations are to be followed inside the Taj Mahal because of the historical importance and maintenance of the monuments holiness. These rules have also been made to preserve the sanctity of the monument and to preserve the structure.
Tourists cannot take arms, fires, smoking items, liquor, tobacco, gum, knives, headphones, chargers, and electric goods such as tripods, mp3 and other music players into the Taj Mahal complex.
Mobile phone can only be taken inside if they are kept switched off.
One cannot smoke or eat inside the premises of Taj Mahal.
Tourists can keep their precious items in the lockers which are available at the gates.
It is advisable to carry fewer items inside the monument, as the security check process can be finished quickly.
Handycam or video cameras can be allowed to be carried at the charge of Rs. 25 for every camera, but that too till the red sandstone platform which is present at the main gate in the entrance to the complex of Taj Mahal.
Inside the mausoleum, visitors need to keep silence and cannot photograph anything.
By the use of dustbins, tourists need to keep the monument neat and clean.
The surfaces and walls of the monument should not be touched or scratched as this monument is an old heritage site, and requires care.
Audio guides which are available at the ASI ticket counters should be used or one can take the services of the guides and photographers who are approved and show their identity cards.
Water bottles can be carried inside the Taj Mahal complex, and the foreigners are provided with shoe covers, tourist guide map of Agra and a bottle of ½ litre of water along with their entry ticket.
Disabled persons can avail of wheel chairs and first aid boxes are available at the office of ASI inside the complex of Taj Mahal. For the wheelchairs, an amount of Rs 1000 is required to be deposited for the purpose of security money.
During the night viewing of Taj Mahal, all the items are banned.
Video cameras can be allowed after proper security checking when the night view of Taj Mahal is in progress, provided no extra batteries are taken inside.
Taj Mahal is a religious place and people should try to dress properly within ethics when visiting the monument as it is a mausoleum and there are many mosques inside the complex.
How to Reach Taj Mahal
Reaching Taj Mahal by the fastest method is through air as there is an airport of the city of Agra, located 7 km from the city center. The flights of Indian airlines are operated to agra on a daily basis.
Train networking between Agra and many other cities in the country is good. Agra city has 2 more rail stations apart from the station of Agra cantonment, and they are Raja-ki-Mundi and Agra fort. The primary trains which connect Agra with Delhi are palace on wheels, rajdhani, shatabdi and
Regular bus services from various important cities in India connect to agra. For the buses, the important station is that of Idgah with buses running from Jaipur, Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura and many other cities.
After alighting from the local stations, people should be aware of the different local transportation systems, so that they can reach Taj Mahal easily. Taxis, tempo, cycle rickshaw and auto-rickshaw provide the transportation inside the city. Various places inside the city can be visited by using the prepaid taxis. Bicycles can be options for those who want adventure which can be hired from different parts of the city, at hourly rate. Battery operated buses, tongas driven by horses, cycle rickshaws and pollution free vehicles are found in the vicinity of Taj Mahal as petrol and diesel vehicles are not allowed there.
Best Time to Visit: October to March
To visit Agra and the Taj Mahal, one can find time during any time of the year as there is no specific time to visit the scintillating scenario of Taj Mahal. This monument is showing its luminescent and glorious charm always and throughout the year. During the summer season, there is a high temperature prevalent in the country, and mostly in the central parts, one can feel uncomfortable while looking at the vast monument and region of the Taj Mahal Complex. So, people can come to Taj Mahal at the cooler months of the year from October to March, which provides a pleasant temperature for the visit to Taj Mahal. In different seasons, the charm and aura of the radiance of Taj Mahal varies providing dazzling scenery. It is during the sunset and sunrise and during the full moon night that people can see the beauty of the Taj Mahal at its peak.
Taj Mahal at Sunrise
The sight of the rising sun from the horizon is a beholding sight and this sight is best viewed from the premises of Taj Mahal, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Awe inspiring images are visualized when the beautiful sunrise and exquisite beauty of Taj Mahal gets together, changing colors from soft grey to pink and then to soft red glow.
Taj Mahal at Bunset
When the sun begins to set down, the final rays provide the Taj Mahal shades of fiery red of the setting sun, changing into soft orange and reviving the pearl white color again. During the night, the moon light is again responsible for increasing the flavor of the Taj Mahal’s beauty.
Taj Mahal under full Moon night
During the full moon night, the beauty of Taj Mahal is further intensified with the silver glow color. There is a beautiful interplay of colors throughout the day and night, which has made Taj Mahal, a monument of exquisite visual and architectural beauty.
People who are planning to visit the Taj Mahal, can arrive ideally just prior to sunset or sunrise and during the period starting from two days before and two days after the full moon night. For visiting during these times, the tickets are to be booked in advance of one day.
Tourist Places Near Taj Mahal
Near Taj Mahal, there is Agra fort, one of the famous tourist places in Agra. The agra fort was built by Akbar in 1565. Many additions in the constructions were carried out in the fort during the time of Shah Jahan. Agra fort is a UNESCO world heritage site which is a beautiful piece of example of Mughal architecture that has been made with the red sandstone.
Akbar’s Tomb Sikandra
At Sikandra is situated the tomb of Akbar where mughal emperor Akbar has been laid to rest after his death and this is located about 13 kms from the agra fort. The special feature of this tomb is that it is architecturally different from various other Mughal era tombs. The pyramidal shaped tomb was started by Akbar but completed by his son Jahangir in 1613 with inscription of 99 names of Allah.
Presently, the city of Fatehpur Sikri is deserted and located near Agra. It was originally constructed by Akbar and in 1584 it was completed. It is situated 35 kms from Agra, and is a city which is one of its kinds. It had a place as a majestic city in the Mughal Empire and is one among the three UNESCO world heritage sites found in Agra, of which Taj Mahal and Agra Fort are the other two.
Vrindavan is a holy city, located near Agra and has been one of the most respected sites for pilgrimages for the hindus in the country. Lord Krishna is prayed in the city of Vrindavan and there are about 4000 temples present in his name.
Many other popular attractive monuments and structures are present nearby Taj Mahal, which are Jama Masjid that was built in memory of Shah Jahan’s daughter, Guru ka tal which is a place for the Sikhs to worship, Chini Ka Rauza which was built for the prime minister of Shah Jahan, Mariam’s tomb built for the wife of Akbar, Mehtab Bagh which is a garden that is moonlit and the famous Keetham Lake.
Taj Mahal Facts
Year of Construction: 1631
Time Taken: 22 years
Completed In: 1653
Built By: Shah Jahan
Location: Agra (Uttar Pradesh), India
Dedicated to: Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), the wife of Shah Jahan
Building Type: Islamic tomb
Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri
Architecture: Mughal (Combination of Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture style)
Cost of Construction: 32 crore rupees
Number of workers: 20,000
Highlights: One of the Seven Wonders of the World; A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Fee: Rs 750 (Foreign Tourists)
Rs 20 (Domestic Indian Tourists)
Rs 510 (Citizens of SAARC & BIMSTEC Countries)
No Entry Fee for children below 15 years of age (Domestic or Foreigner)
Timings: Sunrise to Sunset (Friday closed)
Interesting Facts Of Taj Mahal
- The popular name of Shah Jahan, before his rise to the throne was Prince Khurram.
- Shah Jahan falled for Arjumand Bano Begum who was very beautiful and after marrying her, she became the third wife of Shah Jahan.
- Shah Jahan rechristened Arjumand Bano Begum as Mumtaz Mahal which meant “ Jewel of the Palace” or “Chosen One of the Palace”.
- Mumtaz Mahal died after during the process of the birth of Shah Jahan’s 14th child.
- More than 1000 animals were utilized in order to transport the construction materials.
- Semi precious stones and many precious stones were utilized for decorating the Taj Mahal along with the inlay work of about 28 different varieties.
- It is believed by people that the changing colors of Taj Mahal during the night and day is a depiction of the changing moods of the woman.
- Verses and passages from the Quran have been brought in use as decorative elements in the Taj complex.
- Mumtaz Mahal tomb, the original one, contains 99 different names of Allah in form of Calligraphic inscriptions on the sides.
- It took 15 years for the Taj Mahal to be built up to the plinth along with the tomb which shows that it was built in stages. The minarets, jawab, mosques and the gates were built in 5 more years in order to complete the whole building.
- From various regions of Punjab and Rajasthan and countries like China, Tibet, SriLanka, Afganistan and Arabia, the marbles used in the making of Taj Mahal were brought.
- During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the britishers were responsible in removing various precious stones and the semi precious stones of Lapis Lazuli.
- A total of 2-4 million visitors are said to visit Taj Mahal on an annual basis of which 200,000 come from foreign countries.