Ah, India. No words are indeed enough to describe its immense true beauty. From high landscapes to bone-chilling temples to spicy delicacies to monuments made by, of, and for love, India has a lot to offer.
One such evidence of India’s rich history is the Taj Mahal in Agra, made by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, for his beloved wife, Mumtaz.
As you must know, the Taj Mahal in Agra is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, attracting millions of tourists every year.
Ready to delve into everything from its mesmerizing history to its dark side to unknown facts? Then read on!
Taj Mahal Complex: Who was the Bane of its Existence?
It was constructed in honour of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal, with work beginning in 1632 AD and finishing in 1648.
A Little Backstory of their Iconic Story
In 1607, before becoming Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan saw Mumtaz Mahal in one of the royal market booths. He was 15 years old at the time, known as Prince Khurram, and Mumtaz Mahal, 14, known as Arjumand Banu Baygam, whose biological father would eventually become Prime Minister.
It turned out to be love at first sight for both of them. He didn’t wed her till 1612 but married her following marrying his first wife, Kandahari Begum.
Prince Khurram married Arjumand Banu Baygam on March 27, 1612. The prince named his wife Mumtaz Mahal, which means “chosen one of the palace.” As stated by Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan’s historian, although possessing three wives, the prince’s entire happiness had always revolved around Mumtaz Mahal.
The two of them had a lovely marriage filled with tenderness and profound devotion. Despite her pregnancy, she followed Khurram on all of his previous military excursions.
The couple had 14 children during their nineteen years of union, but only 7 survived the ado Mumtaz Mahal died as a result of the birth of her 14th child. She passed away in Shah Jahan’s arms in his military tent on June 17, 1631, after delivering a healthy baby girl. Her body was briefly buried near the Burhanpur camp.
The emperor is reported to have been so sorrowful that he went into solitude for a year to grieve his beloved wife. His mane had grown gray and his spine was bent when people finally saw him again.
Mumtaz Mahal’s corpse was transported to Agra in December 1631. Thousands of troops accompanied her remains, while masses of grieving people lined the way. Shah Jahan ordered her bones temporarily laid to rest on the site of the Taj Mahal in Agra (which was not then built).
Still in mourning, he planned to build a beautiful mausoleum that no one in the world could match.
Also Referred to as Mumtaz Mahal, But Why?
An unknown but not-so-fun fact: Mumtaz never saw The Taj Mahal in Agra when she was alive.
The most obvious expression of this vast structure is pure love. The framework of this monument now serves as the universe’s love Scripture. If you believe passion, loyalty, and compassion run through your blood, you must visit this structure to experience its display of majesty, love, royalty, and exquisite craftsmanship in a single glance.
Jahan was devastated when Mumtaz succumbed to postpartum complications, and the royal family went into mourning. He then began constructing the Taj Mahal in Agra, the perfect expression of his deep affection for his beloved wife.
He gathered designers and builders from throughout the country to create a tomb worthy enough of Mumtaz. Over 22 years, 20,000 artisans worked with 1,000 elephants to construct the Taj Mahal in Agra and its landscaped areas.
Shah Jahan ordered the Taj Mahal in Agra to be erected as a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal. He never married again, hence it is also a reason it is seen as a symbol of enduring love and marital commitment.
Astonishing Facts You Must Know!
The Taj Mahal is an international marvel that many have seen, but only a few realize the secrets it holds. It is a mausoleum that embodies a man’s love for his lost wife and a complete empire’s tactical mastery over the territory it controlled.
Some of the little-known facts are:
1. Once upon a time, the Taj’s walls were encrusted with beautiful jewels. When finished, the Taj Mahal in Agra, built of marble, glistened with beautiful jewels etched on its walls. This procedure was carried out so that when sunlight fell on the Taj, it appeared to shimmer.
However, the Taj has become the subject of numerous raids and drains over the years, resulting in the majority of those gems having been stolen. Having said that, the Taj’s beautiful marble nevertheless continues to sparkle and fascinate spectators.
Throughout the Indian Mutiny of 1857, several of these costly stones were stolen by British soldiers and have not yet been returned to India.
2. There are currently more than ten Taj Mahal duplicates around the world. You read that correctly! There are over ten Taj duplicates on the globe, but none are as magnificent as the original.
3. The Taj Mahal in Agra seems to change colour depending on the time of day. It is rosy in the early hours of the day and sparkling white/golden in the night.
4. The Taj and the surrounding area were built to create optical illusions. When you approach the complex’s main gateway, the Taj looks to be massive and flanked by the pillars of the entrance, and as you get nearer to it, it seems to shrink–a sight that defies what the typical human mind would predict.
5. The tale of artists’ hands being chopped off to ensure that no such structure would ever be constructed again is fictitious, as Ustad Ahmad Lahauri (an Iranian Persian), who was the design team’s administrator, also laid the foundations for Red Fort.
6. The Taj Mahal’s base would have crumbled if it had not been built on the Yamuna River. Yes, the Taj’s foundation is composed of wood, which is not meant to last. So you can imagine how the wood must have weakened with time, yet it is due to the Yamuna River that the hardwood has remained robust and moist to this day.
7. It is reported that Shah Jahan intended to construct a black Taj Mahal shortly after finishing the white one. However, his aspirations were thwarted by Aurangzeb, his son.
8. The Taj Mahal was NOT planned to be built in Agra. To honour his loving wife, Shah Jahan envisioned an edifice to be erected in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh, the town where Mumtaz died. Although sufficient white marble was unable to be obtained from the location, the structure was relocated to Agra, which is now a heritage city.
9. Inscriptions and embellishments on the grave are prohibited by Islamic texts. That is why, notwithstanding the Taj Mahal’s opulent exteriors, the real chamber where both Mumtaz and Shah Jahan’s graves presently repose is free of any unnecessary work on the walls.
10. This massive and magnificent architectural jewel cost more than thirty-two million rupees in total in 1653 – the equivalent of one billion US dollars currently! It costs around $1 million every week to build over 20 years. So you can see how Shah Jahan practically spent the entire Mughal Empire’s finances to build a palace for the love of his life.
All the Things to Explore in this Marvel
1. Explore its Beauty
The magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra is mankind’s most interesting homage to love. A trip to this white marble shrine erected by a grieving husband remains one of the most popular places to visit in India for honeymooners as well as everyone else, thanks to its stunning architecture.
Schedule a sunrise excursion to this landmark to enjoy its ethereal splendour against the rising warm sunshine without the crowds.
2. Several Classic Shows
Agra, formerly the magnificent abode of India’s Mughal Emperors, is a work of architectural splendour. Explore the medieval fort’s spectacular architecture and monuments, such as the Moti Masjid, Jahangiri Mahal, and Shahjahani Mahal.
In the night, one of the most spectacular light and sound shows displayed in India takes place in this fort. The show transports you to the past of the fort, enhanced by stunning images and music.
3. Traditional Dance Shows
Do you want to celebrate India’s cultural heritage? Then, one of the fun things to do is to see a dance drama performance at the Kalakriti Cultural and Conventional Centre every evening.
You might additionally browse for handicrafts fashioned from marble, steel, and hardwood while you’re here.
4. Take a Stroll in Mehtab Bagh
Emperor Babar built Mehtab Bagh, a Persian-style landscape compound. The appealing garden, complete with airy shelters marble walkways, fountains, and ponds, is a green retreat where you may enjoy a few hours hidden from the tourist crowd while still enjoying breathtaking views of the Taj Mahal.
If you’re a photographer, it’s one of the greatest places to get some great views of the Taj Mahal in Agra, especially at sunrise.
5. Other Things to do in the City
Agra’s busy bazaars and emporiums are a shopaholic’s dream. Visit these locations to experience the city’s ambiance like a local, but ensure to bargain carefully while negotiating a purchase.
Do you want to celebrate India’s cultural heritage? Then, one of the most enjoyable things to do in Agra is to see a musical or drama performance at the Kalakriti Cultural and Conventional Centre.
In what other place can you view magnificent final resting sites of monarchs, kings, and royalty that speak of outstanding royal artistry if not in Agra? On a 2-day journey to Agra, you can visit some of Agra’s famous tombs.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a sunset boat trip with your friends on the tranquil waters along the River Yamuna whilst admiring the beautiful Taj Mahal? This is what renders a Yamuna boat ride with companions one of the most beautiful things you can, and must do in Agra.
Gazing at the Taj Mahal in Agra at sunset when you’re tired from exploring all day, with chai in one hand, awe in your eyes, and nothing but silence in your ears, it will all be worth it!
Is There a Dark Side to this Love Story?
As you look in amazement at the Taj Mahal, it’s soothing to know that the Indian government is working hard to protect its iconic grandeur from the rigours of time, tourist traffic, and environmental damage.
Alas, this is one of the globe’s seven wonders, a highly emotional monument that has captivated tourists for almost 500 years, and unquestionably the most magnificent edifice I have ever witnessed.
After Shah Jahan died, his daughter wished to lay his body close to her dead mother in the Taj Mahal, and she planned the whole activity contrary to her brother’s desires. This additionally meant that she had destroyed the building’s pristine symmetry by enabling them to be reconciled.
Mumtaz died in 1622, thus Shah Jahan opted to construct a structure with the number ‘22‘ at its center. He determined that it would take 22 years to complete and marked this by erecting 22 crowns on the primary entrance gate. He hired an aspiring architect who had an ambition and saw it through with the support of almost 20,000 slaves who worked every day.
He stuck by this because he never intended to wed again, and married again, simply maintaining the two wives that remained. Rather, in his famed Agra Fort, he maintained 50 concubines. They resided in the fifty rooms located beyond the entrances for his enjoyment at any time.
He discharged the women when they fell beyond the ages of 12 and 18 years old. And if they were unwilling to have intercourse with what would be considered a repulsive pedophile today, he had a torture room on the property to impart to them a lesson.
The walls of one section of the Agra Fort were once encased in paintings from the Kama Sutra, however, they were removed for the benefit of tourists.
Pretty interesting how one can imagine oneself in the 1600s by simply gazing at a monument right? Well, that’s the beauty of Taj.
If you are intrigued by the concept of time travel, then click here!
Amazing Architecture of the Monument
The Taj Mahal is a work of art that incorporates Ottoman, Persian, and Islamic art and customs, and its architecture is inspired by depictions of paradise in the Koran. It is also a work of significance.
Its symmetrical arrangement is defined by an axis at its center, which has long been utilized to represent a governing force that promotes balance and harmony.
The edifice is also placed in the fundamental north-south orientation, with the sides arranged so that the sun may be seen emerging as well as setting on both the north and south ends throughout both the winter and summer seasons when standing in the middle.
Because of the perfect white marble, the structure seems to shift hue according to the hour of day and weather, assuring that the sky appears on the surface of the structure as well as in the reflected pools, implying the existence of the Islamic lord Allah.
There are various stories about how much the Taj Mahal had spent to be built. Some estimate that its construction cost 32 million rupees, which equates to nearly 53 billion rupees (US$827 million) in current terms. The majority of the funds were spent on gemstones and the wages of workers.
Best Seasons/Times to Explore the Jewel
Agra is a short distance from the Indian capital. You don’t need to fly to go there because it’s in the Uttar Pradesh state. India has among the most extensive train infrastructure, and you may leave from Delhi and arrive in less than two hours by modernized trains.
Winters are best avoided because the Taj is obscured by fog, which occurs from November through February. So the most suitable time to see the landmark is in the early summer, from March to June. The ideal days for touring are Monday through Thursday. Take notice of these suggestions if you are thinking about taking an excursion to the Taj Mahal.
Without a doubt, the best time of day to go to the Taj Mahal is at dawn. You are going to cherish visiting the Taj for the very first time at sunrise. It can’t get any more magnificent than this!
If the Taj Mahal is stunning during the day, it is truly gorgeous at night, particularly on full moon nights.
Tourists from all over the world want to visit the Taj Mahal, the biggest fort constructed ever for the Maharajas. It features classic Indian architecture and requires a nominal fee to access. Since then, the Taj Mahal has been turned into a museum and has been designated by UNESCO as an iconic symbol of global human culture.
The Taj Mahal has highly strict entry rules, and travellers should arrive with tour guides to guarantee that they understand where to go as well as what to see in every chamber. Also, foreign tourists visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra should be wary of being scammed, hence, hiring a guide is preferential.
The Downfall of Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan nevertheless remained overcome with grief when the Taj Mahal was completed. Aurangzeb, the youngest of their children, used the opportunity to assassinate his three siblings and overthrow his father.
As a result, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra’s Red Fort. He spent the rest of his days staring out the window at his loving wife’s mausoleum. After he passed away in January 1666, he was laid to rest close to Mumtaz Mahal in the mausoleum.
The affluent Mughal Empire had sufficient funds in its prime days to maintain the Taj Mahal. However, when the monarchy fell (in 1707), the edifice deteriorated as well. The Mughals were deposed by the British, who conquered India in 1857.
Beautiful diamonds from the exterior walls were taken away as were silver candelabra and doorways. Luckily, Lord George Curzon, who served as governor-general, put a stop to the looting and began work on restoring the monument.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there any mystery behind the Taj Mahal?
Before she died in 1631, Mumtaz Mahal noted her desire for a mausoleum more exquisite than anyone else had ever seen, which Shah Jahan delivered.
2. What are the 22 secret rooms of the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal’s “22 rooms” in the basement are not rooms, but rather a continuous arched hallway along the walls of which doors were set so that the space might be better utilized. Or there may be any other secret we all do not know about, who knows?
3. Is mobile not allowed in Taj Mahal?
Inside the Taj Mahal, eating and smoking are completely prohibited. Mobile phones must be turned off or set to silent mode.
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. It is, in fact, a verified world marvel that every tourist should include on their list of must-sees.
The Taj Mahal is well-known for its breathtaking splendour and meticulous architecture. There are several structures on the grounds, notably an entryway, a mosque, a guesthouse, the primary mausoleum, and grounds separated by four streams.
The tomb was built with pure white marble studded with gems such as jade, amethyst, and aquamarine. This technique is known as pietra dura. Verses from the Quran can be seen around the facility.
Rabindranath Tagore described it as “a teardrop on the cheek of the universe.” Of course, the Taj Mahal is an architectural masterpiece erected out of tremendous love and remembrance, a structure that has caused millions of people to feel the warmth of love without being in it, a structure that has made Agra a renowned and extensively frequented tourist destination in India.
Just go to Agra and gaze at this magnificent representation of our cultural heritage that tells volumes about our history. Discover its mysteries and what renders it so appealing to visitors to India. Trust me, you will not regret visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra!
Let us know your experience in exploring this Mughal architecture studded with precious stones, Shah Jahan set the bar really high, huh?