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Agra, once the capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th and early

18th centuries, is one and a half hours by express train from New Delhi.
Tourists from all over the world visit Agra not to see the ruins of the red
sandstone fortress built by the Mughal emperors but to make a pilgrimage
to Taj Mahal, India’s most famous architectural wonder, in a land where
magnificent temples and edificies abound to remind visitors about the rich
civilization of a country that is slowly but surely lifting itself into an
industrialized society.
The postcard picture of Taj Mahal does not adequately convey the legend,
the poetry and the romance that shroud what Rabindranath Tagore calls
"a teardrop on the cheek of time". Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace" and is
in fact the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the
world. It is best described by the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, as "Not a
piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an
emperor’s love wrought in living stones." It is a celebration of woman built
in marble and that’s the way to appreciate it.
/in/myindia/images/mumtaz1.jpg
/in/myindia/images/mumtaz1.jpg/in/myindia/images/agra01.jpg
/in/myindia/images/agra01.jpgTaj Mahal stands on the bank of River
Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red
Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their
capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah
Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim
Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in
Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 14th
child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were
said to have grown snow white in a few months.
When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the
emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again;
third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on
her death anniversary. He kept the first and second promises.
Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty
thousand people were deployed to work on it. The material was brought in
from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to
transport it to the site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Istad Usa
and it is best appreciated when the architecture and its adornments are
linked to the passion that inspired it. It is a "symbol of eternal love".
The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white
marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering
minarets. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen. So
exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been described as "having
been designed by giants and finished by jewellers". The only asymmetrical
object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor which was built beside the
queen’s as an afterthought. The emperor was deposed by his son and
imprisoned in the Great Red Fort for eight years but was buried in the Taj.
During his imprisonment, he had a view of the Taj.
As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument for enduring love,
the Taj reveals its subtleties when one visits it without being in a hurry. The
rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from
which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s
face which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the
wedding night. In indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the
beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of Taj, his eyes are
directed to an arch which frames the Taj.
The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain
across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours
that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. The colours
change at different hours of the day and during different seasons. Like a
jewel, the Taj sparkles in moonlight when the semi-precious stones inlaid
into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch the glow of the moon.
The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden
when the moon shines. These changes, they say, depict the different
moods of woman.
Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to
say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you
understand that it is a monument of love. As an architectural masterpiece,
nothing could be added or substracted from it.

Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh


Famous As: 7th Wonder of the world
Built By: Mughal Emperor Shahjahan
Built In The Memory Of: Mumtaz Mahal

Lovers die, but love shall not and death shall have no dominion…

gifs2/taj-mahal-blue.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-blue.jpgIn the year 1607 when a prince of the
royal Mughal household strolled down the Meena Bazaar,
accompanied by a string of fawning courtiers, he caught a
glimpse of a girl hawking silk and glass beads. Five years
and a wife later (in those days princes did not marry for love
alone) the regal 20-yr-old went to wed his 19-yr-old bride. It
was a fairytale union from the start, one that withstood court
intrigues, battles for succession and finally, the grand
coronation. And when she died on the 19th year of their
marriage, he etched her story in stone. The Taj Mahal is the
living symbol of the monumental passion of Shah Jahan and
Arjumand Banu. Which other love story has so grand a
memorial?

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The Chosen City: Agra was the chosen city of the Mughal Taj Mahal Tours
emperors during the early years. It was here that the founder ¤ABC Travel India
of the dynasty, Babur, laid out the first formal Persian garden ¤Vacation Travels
on the banks of the River Yamuna. Here, Akbar, his grandson, & Tours
raised the towering ramparts of the great Red Fort. Within its ¤Sights India
walls, Jehangir built rose-red palaces, courts and gardens. ¤Error! Hyperlink
Shahjahan embellished it with marbled mosques, palaces and reference not valid.
pavillions of gem-inlaid white marble. Agra is globally renown
as the city of the Taj Mahal, a monument of love and imagination, that represents
India to the world.

gifs2/taj-mahal-btm-2-top.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-btm-2-top.jpgTaj history: The origin of the
name the "Taj Mahal" is not clear. Court histories from Shah
Jehan's reign only call it the rauza (tomb) of Mumtaz Mahal. It
is generally believed that "Taj Mahal" (usually translated as
either "Crown Palace" or "Crown of the Palace") is an
abbreviated version of her name, Mumtaz Mahal (Exalted One
of the Palace).

The Taj Mahal is a deserving resting palace for an Emperor's


Empress. It stands on the banks of the river Yamuna, which
otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red
Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they
moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth
Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his
second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She
died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a
campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 14th child.
Build me a Taj: As Mumtaz Mahal lay dying, she asked four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the
Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he gifs2/taj-
mahal-clouds2.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-clouds2.jpgvisit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the
first and second promises. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22
years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The principal
architect was the Iranian architect Istad Usa; it is possible that the pietra dura
work was coordinated by an Italian artist.

Wonder of the World: To people the world over, the Taj Mahal, mausoleum of
Mughal Emperor shah Jana's chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is synonymous
with India. Its curving, gently swelling dome and the square
base upon which its rests so lightly is a familiar image from
hundreds of brochures and travel books. The Taj is
undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the
world. Renowned for its architectural magnificence and
aesthetic beauty, it counts among man's proudest creations
and is invariably included in the list of the world's foremost
/cgi/imb_redirect.asp?r=394&d=trav_
wonders. As a tomb, it has no match upon earth, for mortal
pan_data&url=http://www.tours-
remains have never been housed in greater grandeur.
Mosque
gifs2/taj-mahal-right-side.jpg

india.com /
cgi/imb_redirect.asp?r=394&d=trav_
pan_data&url=http://www.tours-
india.com
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gifs2/taj-mahal-right-side.jpgOn either side of the Taj Mahal are buildings of red
sandstone. The one to the west is a Mosque. It faces towards Mecca and is used
for prayer. Before we have a look at the mosque, let us take note of a small stone
enclosure along the western boundary wall where the well of the Mosque is
located. This greenery shaded structure, measuring 19 ft. by 6.5 ft. marks the site
where the remains of Mumtaz Mahal were deposited when first brought to Agra.
From this temporary grave they were removed to their present place of internment
in the mausoleum.

On the outside the Mosque has pietra dura work twining across its spandrels. The
platform in front of the Mosque is of red sandstone. A highly polished small
marble piece is so fitted that it serves as a mirror and one can see the mausoleum
reflected in it. The floor is of a material which is exceedingly fine and sparkling
and appears velvet red in shade. On that 539 prayer carpets have been neatly
marked out with black marble. All over there is exquisite
calligraphy and the name Allah and quotations from Taj Mahal Tours
scriptures inscribed. The roof supports 4 octagonal ¤Adventure & Cultural
towers and 3 elegant domes. On either side of the Travel
Mosque, to the north and south, and set along and ¤Mann Tourist Transport
upon the enclosure wall, there are two towers. Services
¤Concord Travels And
The Rest House Tours
¤Club Travels Holidays &
On the east side of the Taj stands the twin of the Adventures
Mosque, a parallel structure also made of red
sandstone, referred to as the jawab, or "answer".
Because it faced away from the Mecca, it was never used for prayer. Its presence there has always been
something of an enigma. Was it a caravanserai for pilgrims, or a meeting hall before the faithful gifs2/taj-
mahal-high-view.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-high-view.jpggathered before prayer? More p lausible is the theory
that its purpose was purely architectural, to counterbalance the Mosque and
preserve the symmetry of the entire design on the platform.

The jawab is similar to the Mosque. However, it does not contain the accessories
which go with a mosque, and, instead of Koranic inscriptions, there are beautiful
flower designs and other decoration effectively done in white marble on the red
sandstone background. On the floor between the building and the mausoleum
there is a full size reproduction of the pinnacle adorning the Taj. This gives some
idea of the true proportions (31 ft.) of what from below appears to be a tiny thing.

Mosque
gifs2/taj-mahal-right-side.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-right-side.jpgOn either side of the Taj
Mahal are buildings of red sandstone. The one to the
west is a Mosque. It faces towards Mecca and is used
for prayer. Before we have a look at the mosque, let us
take note of a small stone enclosure along the western
boundary wall where the well of the Mosque is located.
This greenery shaded structure, measuring 19 ft. by
6.5 ft. marks the site where the remains of Mumtaz
Mahal were deposited when first brought to Agra. From
this temporary grave they were removed to their
present place of internment in the mausoleum.

On the outside the Mosque has pietra dura work


twining across its spandrels. The platform in front of
the Mosque is of red sandstone. A highly polished
small marble piece is so fitted that it serves as a mirror
and one can see the mausoleum reflected in it. The
floor is of a material which is exceedingly fine and
sparkling and appears velvet red in shade. On that 539
prayer carpets have been neatly marked out with black
marble. All over there is exquisite
calligraphy and the name Allah and quotations from scriptures inscribed. The roof Taj Mahal Tours
supports 4 octagonal towers and 3 elegant domes. On either side of the Mosque, to¤Adventure & Cultural
the north and south, and set along and upon the enclosure wall, there are two Travel
towers. ¤Mann Tourist Transport
Services
¤Concord Travels And
Tours
¤Club Travels Holidays &
Adventures
The Rest House

On the east side of the Taj stands the twin of the Mosque, a parallel structure also made of red sandstone,
referred to as the jawab, or "answer". Because it faced away from the Mecca, it was never used for prayer. Its
presence there has always been something of an enigma. Was it a caravanserai for pilgrims, or a meeting
hall before the faithful gifs2/taj-mahal-high-view.jpg
gifs2/taj-mahal-high-view.jpggathered before prayer? More p lausible is the theory
that its purpose was purely architectural, to counterbalance the Mosque and
preserve the symmetry of the entire design on the platform.

The jawab is similar to the Mosque. However, it does not contain the accessories
which go with a mosque, and, instead of Koranic inscriptions, there are beautiful
flower designs and other decoration effectively done in white marble on the red
sandstone background. On the floor between the building and the mausoleum
there is a full size reproduction of the pinnacle adorning the Taj. This gives some
idea of the true proportions (31 ft.) of what from below appears to be a tiny thing.