There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who haven’t. The Taj Mahal is probably the world’s most recognizable and beautiful man-made structure in the world. Interestingly, there are many mysteries and hidden secrets about the Taj Mahal. Some say that there was to be another Taj Mahal built with black marble adjacent to the White wonder! The mysteries remain unresolved but there is consensus on the fact that no other entity in this world personifies eternal love better than The Taj Mahal.
Agra is 200 Kms south of Delhi and is well connected by Air, Road and Rail.
Flight from Delhi takes only 40 minutes to reach Agra. If you prefer to travel by Rail, there are several trains from Delhi and other cities to Agra. The more comfortable ones are Taj Express, Shatabdi and Rajdhani. If you want to arrive in luxury, try the Palace on Wheels. It will burn a hole in your pocket, but it’s worth it if you are in a mood for indulgence of a lifetime!
The Taj Mahal is open from 6 am-7 pm everyday except Fridays.
The best time to visit The Taj Mahal is during Full Moon Nights. The reflection of the Taj on the waters of the Yamuna on a Full Moon is very captivating. The Taj is open 2 days before and after every Full Moon fro 830 pm till Mid Night.
Guides for Agra You can engage Government authorized Gudies for visiting The Taj and other prominent landmarks. For a list of the authorized guides, visit here.
The Taj Mahal was built over 22 years from 1631-1653. The great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had commissioned it for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who passed away while giving birth to their 14th child.
The Taj Mahal was a project of mind boggling scale where material and workers came from all corners of India and Asia. Red sandstone came from Fatehpur Sikri, Jasper from Punjab, Jade and Crystal from China, Turquoise from Tibet, Lapis Lazuli & Sapphire from Sri Lanka, Coal and Cornelian from Arabia and Diamonds from Panna in Madhya Pradesh. A thousand elephants were used to transport all this material to Agra. A labour force of twenty thousand workers also had Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria & Persia and stone cutters from Baluchistan.
Some of the key people involved in the construction were Ismail Afandi of the Ottoman Empire for designing the main dome, 'Puru' from Benares, Persia was the supervising architect, Qazim Khan, a native of Lahore cast the solid gold finial, Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi was the chief sculptor and mosaicist, while Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran played the role of the chief calligrapher.
The Taj Mahal is symmetry personified except for the fact that the pillars surrounding it are slightly tilted outwards. This was intentional, so that in the event of an earthquake they will fall away from the tomb!
Legend says that the emperor Shah Jahan signed contracts with his workmen barring them in building anything remotely similar to the Taj Mahal in future. Some even say, that he cut off the hands of the key architects! Shah Jahan will be disappointed to note that several replicas of the Taj Mahal can be seen today across the world. Prominent among them are the Taj Mahal Bangladesh, the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
For a travelogue on another World Heritage Site in the South of India, that features the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire, check Hampi.