Widely recognized as the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage
It is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
Located in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists. UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors, including more than 200,000 from overseas. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored for use as a new visitor center.
The small town to the south of the Taj, known as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, was originally constructed with caravanserais, bazaars and markets to serve the needs of visitors and workmen. Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the modern world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the World, a recent poll with 100 million votes.
The grounds are open from 06:00 to 19:00 weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12:00 and 14:00. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and the month of Ramadan. For security reasons only five items—water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies’ purses—are allowed inside the Taj Mahal.
Myths – Ever since its construction, the building has been the source of an admiration transcending culture and geography, and so personal and emotional responses have consistently eclipsed scholastic appraisals of the monument
A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble as a Black Taj Mahal across the Yamuna river. The idea originates from fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black. A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archaeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself.
No evidence exists for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb. Some stories claim that those involved in construction signed contracts committing themselves to have no part in any similar design. Similar claims are made for many famous buildings.
Another myth suggests that beating the silhouette of the finial will cause water to come forth. To this day, officials find broken bangles surrounding the silhouette.
Below are links to more travel information such as locations, what to see and do, activities, how to get there, and a history of the myth and legend. Use custom search engine to find your bookings.
The Taj Mahal • Locations & Activities