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You Are Here Golden Triangle Tours, India : Agra Tour Travel Guide : Monuments in Agra : Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
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The most beautiful building in the world. In 1631 the emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died in child birth. The white marble mausoleum at Agra has become the monument of a man's love for a woman.

Most travelers call this wonder the world's most beautiful building - ever. Some say it's worth a trip half way around the world just to see it. The Taj Mahal costs in today’s money about US $100 million. It also cost Shah Jahan dearly. Because it acutely drained the treasury, Jahan was dethroned and imprisoned for the last nine years of his life. From his prison quarters, he could poignantly see the wonder where his love lay and where he himself would eventually be.

This wonder is truly priceless. No one could today assemble craftsman in or outside of India with the same skills and talent levels of those who toiled on the monument. The craftsman (and materials) came from India and beyond, as far away as China and Italy.

Many architects have rated it as the most perfect of all buildings standing on earth. Three artists designed it: a Persian, an Italian, and a Frenchman. But the design is completely Mohammedan. Even the skilled artisans who built it were brought in from Baghdad, Constantinople, and other centers of the Muslim faith. For 22 years more than 20,000 workmen were forced to build the Taj. The Maharaja of Jaipur sent the marble as a gift to Shah Jahan. The building and its surroundings cost more than $200,000,000 in todays currency.

Construction of the Taj Mahal began in the same year and was completed after 22 years in 1653 at a cost of 32 Million Rupees. Twenty thousand workmen and master craftsmen- from Persia, France, Iran, Italy and Turkey worked on the building. Although no one knows who planned the Taj, the name of a Persian architect, Ustad Isa, was involved the construction of this marble monument. The material red sandstone, silver and gold, carnelian and jasper, moonstone and

jade, lapiz lazuli and coral were brought in from all over India and central Asia and white Makrana marble from Jodhpur took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport. Precious stones for the inlay came from Baghdad, Punjab, Igypt, Russia, Golconda, China, Afghanistan, Ceylon, Indian ocean and Persia. The unique mughal style architecture combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture.

The architectural complex of the Taj Mahal (590x300m)mainly consists of the Darwaza or main gateway, the Bageecha or symmetrically planned garden(300x300m), the Masjid or mosque, the Naqqar Khana or rest house, and the Rauza or the Taj Mahal mausoleum. The actual Tomb is situated inside the Taj. The main entrance is from the west, but there are also two other entrances from the east and from the south. The majestic main gateway is a large three-storey red sandstone structure, 50ft wide and 100ft Taj Mahal in Agrahigh with an octagonal central chamber with a vaulted roof and with smaller rooms on each side, completed in 1648. The gateway consists of lofty central arch with doubles storeyed wings on either side. Above the central portal on the north and south sides, there is a series of 11 attached chattiris (umbrellas) with marble cupolas, flanked by pinnacles.The walls are inscribed with verses from the Quran in Arabic and is done in black calligraphy. A fine feature of the gateway is that the lettering appears to be the same size from top to bottom. This was done by heightening the letters as the distance from the eye increased. The small domed pavilions on top are Hindu in style and signify regality. The gate was originally lined with silver, now replaced with copper and decorated with 1,000 nails whose heads were contemporary silver coins.

Most of the walls are embellished with delicate floral and calligraphic patterns made with inlaid semiprecious gems. Four tall, slender minarets sensuously rise from its four corners of (see photo). They intentionally slant slightly outward so they would fall away from the main structure in the event of an earthquake. The wonder sits on a broad but squat red sandstone platform, which produces a slight floatation effect. The reflecting pools and gardens in front of the splendid edifice (see photo) enhance the site's visual charm. The opening of the majestic main gateway gives arrivals a dramatically framed sight of the Taj Mahal.

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