Taj Mahal

History and Facts : Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal of Agra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, for reasons more than just looking magnificent. It's the history of Taj Mahal that adds a soul to its magnificence: a soul that is filled with love, loss, remorse, and love again. Because if it was not for love, the world would have been robbed of a fine example upon which people base their relationships. An example of how deeply a man loved his wife, that even after she remained but a memory, he made sure thhat this memory would never fade away. This man was the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who was head-over-heels in love with Mumtaz Mahal, his dear wife. She was a Muslim Persian princess (her name Arjumand Banu Begum before marriage) and he was the son of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir and grandson of Akbar the Great. It was at the age of 14 that he met Mumtaz and fell in love with her. Five years later in the year 1612, they got married. 
Mumtaz Mahal, an inseparable companion of Shah Jahan, died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child. It was in the memory of his beloved wife that Shah Jahan built a magnificent monument as a tribute to her, which we today know as the "Taj Mahal". The construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1631. Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia and Iran, and it took approximately 22 years to build what we see today. An epitome of love, it made use of the services of 22,000 laborers and 1,000 elephants. The monument was built entirely out of white marble, which was brought in from all over India and central Asia. After an expenditure of approximately 32 million rupees, Taj Mahal was finally completed in the year 1653. 
It was soon after the completion of Taj Mahal that Shah Jahan was deposed by his own son Aurangzeb and was put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. Shah Jahan, himself also, lies entombed in this mausoleum along with his wife. Moving further down the history, it was at the end of the 19th century that British Viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a sweeping restoration project, which was completed in 1908, as a measure to restore what was lost during the Indian rebellion of 1857: Taj being blemished by British soldiers and government officials who also deprived the monument of its immaculate beauty by chiseling out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. Also, the British style lawns that we see today adding on to the beauty of Taj were remodeled around the same time. Despite prevailing controversies, past and present threats from Indo-Pak war and environmental pollution, this epitome of love continuous to shine and attract people from all over the world 


City: Agra, on the banks of river Yamuna
Divided Into: Four Parts
State: Uttar Pradesh
Distance from Delhi: 204 Km (approx)

It's the city of Agra that has received the honor of having one of Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal: an abode for eternal Love, in its courtyard. Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, Agra has been one powerful city since the medieval times. The city finds mention in the epic Mahabharata and later gained recognition as the capital of Mughal Empire from 1526 to 1658 under the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan. At that time, the city of Agra was also known as Akbaraabad. Till date, it remains a major tourist destination, courtesy three of the most famous Mughal era buildings like Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and most notably the terrific Taj Mahal, all three of which stand as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Taj Mahal in particular, built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and is visited by millions of tourists annually. 
The location for Taj Mahal was clearly a well thought out decision by Shah Jahan who chose a peaceful site about one and a half miles away from Agra at the southern edge of the city at the banks of river Yamuna. This location also had a strategic importance for the emperor, as it could be seen from his palace in the Agra Fort. The closeness to the river Yamuna not only gave this location a scenic edge, but also met the need for water during construction purposes and laying out the garden. Moving on to the Taj, the entire complex consists of a number of buildings comprising of a mosque, a guesthouse and the mausoleum, housing both the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. A long and beautiful walkway leads to the main mausoleum, which is built of pure white marble. Four waterways divide the gardens that stand in front of the Taj into four parts and then, meet in a pool at the center. It is believed that half of the beauty of Taj Mahal comes from this strategic location where it stands. 
With Taj Mahal being in the premises of the Agra city and the city itself being the 19th most populous city of India, getting to it and the stupendous Taj Mahal isn't much of a problem. The Taj Mahal is located within 6 km of distance from the Agra city centre and is easily accessible by auto rickshaw or a cab. With the city being well connected by national highways, it is easily accessible through road from all major cities in India. The three railway stations: Agra Cantt, Agra Fort Railway station (from where the Taj is at 10-15 minutes of walking distance), and Raja ki Mandi connect almost all cities of the country and make access to the city of Taj an easy affair. For those who are extremely busy but still do not want to miss an opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Taj Mahal, getting to Agra by flight would be the easiest way out. Agra airport, which is around 6 km from the city centre, has Indian Airways' flights flying in and out on a daily basi