Visiting the Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal of India
7 Wonders of the World
What can I say about the Taj Mahal that hasn't already been said? It's a building. But what a building. Some people aren't particularly into architecture, or design, or iconography, or temples. Some people aren't into stories about love and life and death. Some people aren't into India. But you even though all of these things are part of the story of the Taj Mahal you don't have to have an interest in any them to 'get' the beauty of this magnificent structure. The Taj Mahal is one of the 7 wonders of the modern world and was recently voted into the 'new 7 wonders of the modern world' list amassing 100 million votes from around the world. When I think of the seven wonders of the world the Taj Mahal of India is always the first one that comes to my mind.
Taj Mahal Picture
The Taj Mahal at Sunrise
My girlfriend and I visited the Taj Mahal with a guide in March 2012. We didn't really need a guide for guiding-sake, we had him more because we wanted to have someone with us who would take our Taj Mahal pictures and of course provide us with the Taj Mahal facts and the Taj Mahal history. The information he gave us about the Taj Mahal was very useful and well articulated. We met our guide outside the entrance gates just before sunrise. We'd heard this was a great time to arrive at the Taj Mahal as it would get a lot busier later in the morning and also because the light at this time would change the appearance as the sun starting to cast it's first rays.
Where is the Taj Mahal?
Seeing the Taj Mahal for the First Time
I was very excited on entering the site of the Taj Mahal and when it first came into view I just froze and stood gazing at it open mouthed. Then I quickly realised that there was hardly anyone else there so I went and busily took a whole load of unobstructed Taj Mahal photo's, as well as some silly one's including one of my girlfriend doing the famous Princess Diana pose imitating Pricness Diana at the Taj Mahal. We weren't the only one's. When it started to get busier there were lines of people waiting to get to sit on this bench and pull the exact same pose for their own Taj Mahal pictures!
Taj Mahal pictures
Taj Mahal facts
Our guide was very knowledgeable. He tried to tell me about Taj Mahal history and all about Taj Mahal architecture. He explanined to us that the building and all the grounds were designed and built with perfect symmetry. This attention to detail makes the whole Taj Mahal site just that little bit more special and is a very impressive visual. I especially loved how the Taj Mahal reflection is cast on the long pool of water immediately in front of it. But what I also found impressive is that the view of the Taj Mahal is completely unobstructed and uncompromised. At the site of some other impressive structures such as the great Pyramids of Egypt it can be difficult to appreciate the structure on its own without other modern day items disrespectfully falling into vision. However, with the Taj Mahal there has always been a ruling that nothing can be built within a one mile radius of the great temple.
Taj Mahal picture
Have you ever been to the Taj Mahal?
Recommended Taj Mahal Reading
On the pages of this beautifully illustrated volume, the Taj Mahal is revealed in minute detail.
Taj Mahal picture taken from Agra Fort
About the Taj Mahal
We learned that after Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built in memory of his third wife, he had intended to have another Taj Mahal built for himself: the black Taj Mahal, to be built from black marble. This was to be built behind the Taj Mahal, across the Yamuna River but it never came to fruition. Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb, before it was started and Aurangzeb abandoned the plan.
When was the Taj Mahal Built?
Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after the death of Shah Jahan's third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of the main Taj Mahal temple took approximately 16 years with the construction of the Taj Mahal gardens taking a further 5 years. Although Shah Jahan, as the the brainchild of the Taj Mahal, gets all the credit for building it, it is widely believed that the Taj Mahal was actually designed by an Afgan architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
Silly Taj Mahal picture
The Tomb of Mumtaz Mahal Inside the Taj Mahal
It's possible to go inside the Taj Mahal but there's not a lot to it. In the centre of the main temple is the large white marble tomb of the Emperors third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Photography is not allowed inside the tomb area and shoes must be either removed or covered with dust protectors. The tomb is immaculate with simple yet beautiful detailing and decoration. It's only when you're inside this area that you realise what an undertaking the whole project was just for the sake of a tomb for one person. In the 19th century parts of the structure had fallen into disrepair and it's future looked uncertain. Today, the structure has been immaculately restored and is clearly maintained very well. However, the level of Yamuna river has been falling over the last few years at a rate of 5 feet each year. This is making the land unstable and small movements underground are making the Taj Mahal vulnerable to damage. Cracks have recently started to appear over the last few years in parts of the tomb. Some experts believe that within the next 5 years there is a danger of the entire tomb collapsing.
Test your Taj Mahal Knowledge with this fun quiz!
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Check out my other India Travel hubs:
- The Sacred City of Varanasi, India
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- Top 5 Tourist Destinations in Delhi
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- Experience India with Indian Railways
A guide to independent travel in India using the railway network.
Inside the Taj Mahal
Some good reading material about the Taj Mahal
Shah Jahan, ruler of India, murdered three of his brothers in his bloody rise to power. Yet when his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, suddenly died, the grief-stricken emperor built the world's most beautiful tomb as a monument to her memory. Great book about the history of the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan was the fifth emperor of the Mughal dynasty. The Mughals combined the brute force and fierce ambition of their legendary ancestor Genghis Khan with a delicate artistic sensitivity. Theirs was a world where even forts were architectural gems, where emperors had their life stories told in exquisite miniature paintings, and where each new ruler competed with the previous one by building a grander palace, fort, mosque and city.
The Taj Mahal tells the story of this remarkable dynasty through its greatest artistic achievement. From the soaring domes, to the marble columns inlaid with precious gems, to the vast gardens, to the perfect symmetry of its design, the Taj Mahal expressed the power, grandeur, glory and beauty of the Mughal world.
Travelling to India? You can't go wrong with the Lonely Planet. Includes a section on the Taj Mahal including where to stay in Agra and how to get around.