The origin of the name the "Taj Mahal" is not clear. Court histories from Shah Jehan's reign only call it the rauza (tomb) of Mumtaz Mahal. It is generally believed that "Taj Mahal" (usually translated as either "Crown Palace" or "Crown of the Palace") is an abbreviated version of her name, Mumtaz Mahal (Exalted One of the Palace).
The Taj Mahal is a deserving resting palace for an Emperor's Empress. It stands on the banks of the river Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 14th child.
Mumtaj Mahal - "Build me a Taj"
As Mumtaz Mahal lay dying, she asked four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the first and second promises. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The principal architect was the Iranian architect Istad Usa; it is possible that the pietra dura work was coordinated by an Italian artist.
Taj Mahal - Wonder of the World
To people the world over, the Taj Mahal, mausoleum of Mughal Emperor shah Jana's chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is synonymous with India. Its curving, gently swelling dome and the square base upon which its rests so lightly is a familiar image from hundreds of brochures and travel books. The Taj is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the world. Renowned for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty, it counts among man's proudest creations and is invariably included in the list of the world's foremost wonders. As a tomb, it has no match upon earth, for mortal remains have never been housed in greater grandeur.
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