Testimony of Love: The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is a historical monument located in Agra, India. Considered as “Symbol of India” and great architectural jewel it is one of the Seven Wonders of World and also UNESCO World Heritage site. The word Taj Mahal means “Crown of Palaces” and looking at its beauty, history, and significance it justifies its meaning. Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of the building started in 1632 and took almost 20 years to complete with almost 20000 artisans and craftsmen worked together to complete this task.
Located on the banks of river Yamuna it is considered as an architectural masterpiece that the world has never seen before and the best example of the combination of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles. It attracts more than 3 million people every year.
History and Reason for Construction
Mughals in India brought some great architectural knowledge with them which was influenced by Persian and Arabic style. This can be seen in many monuments build by them like Humayun Tomb at Delhi, Akbar’s tomb, Red Fort, etc. Almost all Mughal rulers constructed some great buildings of that time, but during the reign of Shah Jahan it reached its peak and some best structures were constructed.
Arjumand Banu Begum was the third wife of Shah Jahan and the most beloved one among all his wives. It was deep love and affection between them that the emperor gave her the title of Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). But Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to the fourteenth child at Burhanpur in the Deccan region of India. At the time of her death, Shah Jahan promised that he will build the greatest mausoleum for her and no other building in the world would be such beautiful.
The Construction of The Taj Mahal
Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and Agra was selected as the place for construction under chief architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The land was exchanged from Maharajah Jai Singh but the biggest issue was to save Taj from the currents of Yamuna River. To overcome these three acres of the area was excavated to build the foundation and filled with dust and elevated up to 160ft above the river bank. The entire complex spans an area of 55.5 acres and nearly 1000 elephants were utilized to transport building materials. Materials were brought from all over the India neighboring areas like white marble was brought from Makrana in Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade, and crystal from China. It is said that Shah Jahan created a mythical feminine so that he can divert the supply of food grains to the construction site. It took nearly 12 years to complete the plinth and tomb and an additional 10 years to build minarets, mosques, gateways, gardens, and fountains. Once the building was complete it costs 32 million INR at that time.
A Walkthrough Taj Complex
The entire complex can be divided into the following 5 locations:
- Moonlight garden on the north bank of River Yamuna.
- Southern Bank of the river containing the Mausoleum, Mosque. It is also called Riverfront terrace.
- The Charbagh garden.
- The ForeCourt or “Jilaukhana” with two additional tombs.
- The Bazaar or “Taj Ganji”.
Moonlight garden is also known as “Mehtab Bagh” is a garden across the river Yamuna. This garden is located at the northern bank of Yamuna and the primary reason to construct the garden was to provide a location to view Taj and enjoy its beauty. The width of the garden is almost symmetric to the entire Taj complex.
River Front Terrace
The riverfront terrace contains the Taj Mahal and two Mosques facing each other called “Jawab and Mosque”. The riverfront terrace provides an excellent view of Yamuna River flowing side by and as well as for Charbagh garden. This place was also constructed so that prayers can be offered easily.
The Charbagh Garden
The construction of Charbagh garden was done to symbolize the four rivers flowing in paradise as per Islamic culture. The charbagh garden is divided into four quarters (in Hindi char means four) and they are subsequently divided into 16 parterres. At halfway between the tomb and the gateway, there is a raised marble water tank and it reflects the Taj Mahal. Beautiful trees and fountains can be seen in between gateway and tomb and it enhances the overall beauty.
The main reason for the introduction of forecourt by Shah Jahan was that visitors can prepare them before entering into tomb area and they can manage their procession of horse and elephant. The northern end of forecourt leads to the Taj Mahal while the southern end leads to Taj Ganji Market.
The Bazaar or “Taj Ganji”
Taj Ganji is basically a market and a large number of shops can be seen there. Initially, this area was constructed for workers and craftsmen.
How to Reach Taj Mahal
Agra is well connected by major cities of India via road, rail, and air. The domestic airport at Agra servers for speedy connectivity. Apart from air Agra railway station comes under the northern central railway zone of Indian Railways and is well connected by all major stations. Train for Agra can be searched at http://www.indianrail.gov.in/between_Imp_Stations.html
Additional information can be found at Govt. of India Tourism Office 191, Mall Road, Agra Ph- + 91-562-2226368 and at Office of U.P. Tourism 64, Taj Road, Agra. Ph- +91-562-2226431.
Distance Of Taj Mahal From Major Cities
The distance of Agra via road form major cities is as follows Agra-Delhi: 205Km, Agra-Lucknow: 370Km, Agra-Varanasi: 600Km, Agra-Khajuraho: 400Km, Agra-Gwalior: 120Km.
Entry Fee At Taj Mahal
For children below 15 years no charges, above that 20 Rs for all Indian Citizens. For the citizen of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries 510 Rupees. For other foreign visitors, the cost is 750 Rupees but the ticket of 750 rupees includes other monuments located in Agra like Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s Tomb, Itimad-Ud-Daulah’s tomb and if they visit those on the same day then they don’t have to pay for it.
Opening Time & Closing Time of Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is open for visitors on all weekdays except on Friday for prayers. Night viewing is also available on Full Moon day and two days before and after it.
The Taj Mahal Museum
The Museum is open from 9.00 AM to 5.00 P.M. it is situated on the western side of NaubatKhana and its entry is free for all visitors. It is also closed on Friday.