Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Founded By: Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Founded In: 1631-1648
Entombs: Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan
Area: 42 acres
Status: One of the Seven Wonders of the World UNESCO World
Taj Mahal, the 'Epitome of Love', is the most prized possessions of the
Indian subcontinent. The magnificent monument is renowned throughout the
world for its exquisite architectural beauty. It occupies a place in the
Seven Wonders of the World and has also been declared as a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Tajmahal is situated in the Agra city
of India, popularly known as the 'City of Taj'. Located on the banks of
the Yamuna River, the monument is built entirely of white marble.
Taj Mahal is said to be "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one
of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
It is the mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, constructed by her husband, the
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The construction work on the monument was
started in the year 1632 and it took approximately seventeen years to
complete it. Though Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is believed to be the architect
of Tajmahal, there is no consensus on the issue. Approximately 20,000
laborers, engineers and architects were involved in its construction.
The stones that were used in building Taj Mahal were brought from as
far away as Tibet and Sri Lanka. The monument has been built as per the
Mughal architectural style, which draws heavily from Persian, Turkish,
Indian and Islamic styles. When you look at the Taj mahal of Agra, the
first feature that strikes you is its huge bulbous dome. It is
approximately 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet in height. Constructed
out of white marble and inlaid with semi-precious stones, it comes
across as a splendid structure.
The marble and stones adorning the dome give Taj different hues at
different times of the day. The dome stands surrounded on its four sides
by four soaring minarets, each of them atleast 40 meters high. The
minarets have been built in such a way that they slightly slant to the
outer side and taper down with height. On one side of the Taj Mahal
stands a mosque, while on the other is the Naqqar Khana. The main
mausoleum is built on an elevated, square platform with four abridged
corners, which seem to be forming an unequal octagon.
The concept of interlocking arabesque architecture seems to be used
throughout the Taj. Going as per the concept, each feature of the
monument seems to have its own identity, yet merges harmoniously with
the main edifice. The tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal have
been situated inside the Taj Mahal, in a shadowy burial crypt. The main
chamber is situated just above these crypts and contains the false
tombs. The chamber is surrounded by perforated marble screens, through
which the sunlight comes inside.
The surface of the Taj Mahal stands ornamented with exceptionally
beautiful calligraphic work. The verses and passages from the holy book
of Koran have been inscribed on the walls of the monument, by inlaying
jasper in the marble panels. Amanat Khan, a Persian calligrapher, can be
credited with inscribing the calligraphy in an illegible Thuluth script.
Standing as a proof of his work are numerous panels, which bear the
signatures of the calligrapher.
Taj Mahal is situated in the northeast corner of a sprawling garden,
which has a huge marble tank in its center. The entire area, right from
the main gateway to the base of the Taj, is covered by the garden, known
as the Charbagh. Taj garden has been designed as per the Persian style
and stands divided into four parts. In each of the square, we can see 16
flowerbeds that have been divided by elevated passageways. The trees
planted in the garden are either that of Cyprus (which symbolize death)
or of the fruit bearing type (which symbolize life).
Every year, Taj Mahal plays host to the Taj Mahotsav, which is
celebrated in the month of February. The festival is organized by the
Uttar Pradesh Tourism and lasts for a period of ten days. The main aim
behind the Taj Mahotsav is to promote the arts, crafts, culture,
cuisine, dance and music of the state. It is held at Shilpgram, situated
very near to the Taj Mahal.