Taj Mahal

Brief History

Taj Mahal

The construction of this marble masterpiece is credited to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who erected this mausoleum in memory of his beloved wife, Arjumand Bano Begum, popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1040 AH (1630 AD). Her last wish to her husband was "to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before". Thus emperor Shahjahan firmed his mind for about building this fairytale like marvel. The construction of Taj Mahal was started in 1632 AD and completed at the end of 1648 AD. For seventeen years, twenty thousand workmen are said to be employed on it daily. For their accommodation, a small town, named after the deceased empress 'Mumtazabad, now known as Taj Ganj, was built adjacent to it.

Sheer poetry in marble, Majesty and magnificence, unrivalled; the Taj Mahal is the only monument of its kind across the world

Rabindra Nath Tagore defined Taj MAHALahal as "a tear on the face of eternity" whereas to others, it is a tender elegy in marble" and the ultimate expression of love.

Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. The Taj seems to glow in the light of the full moon. On a foggy morning, the visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Yamuna River.

Shahjahan had begun his reign by killing his brothers; but he had neglected to kill his sons, one of who was destined to overthrow him. In 1657 his son Aurangzeb led an insurrection from the Deccan. Aurangzeb defeated all the forces sent against him, captured his father, and imprisoned him in the Fort of Agra. For 9 bitter years the deposed emperor lingered there, never visited by his son, attended only by his faithful daughter Jahanara, and spending his days looking from the Jasmine Tower of his prison across the Yamuna to where his once-beloved Mumtaz lay in her jeweled tomb.

Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber. The grave of Shahjahan was added to it later. The queen’s real name was Arjumand Banu. In the tradition of the Mughals, important ladies of the royal family were given another name at their marriage or at some other significant event in their lives, and the public commonly used that new name. Shahjahan's real name was Shahab-ud-din, and he was known as Prince Khurram before ascending to the throne in 1628.

The Taj stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and symmetry of architectural elements.

The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.

The main entrance, once guarded with solid silver gates, is a maze of marble embroidery; inlaid in the wall in jeweled script are quotations from the Quran, one of which invites the "pure in heart" to enter "the gardens of Paradise."

Entry to Taj Mahal

The four storeyed main gateway of the Taj Mahal is 100 feet high and is built in red sandstone. The Arabic calligraphy from the Holy Quran and motifs of entwined flowers, leaves and vines spiraling down its niches. These motifs have been made by semi-precious stones inlaid in the white marble.

The Southern Gate

The Gate is towards the south, which faces the old Mumtazabad (Modern Taj Ganj). It is meant for the pedestrians. On the right side of this gate is a Tomb of red stone which is surrounded by court yards and crowded with a dome. It is said that this is a grave of one lady companion of Mumtaj Mahal. Due to this reason this building is called as the Tomb of a Maid of Honour.

It stands on an elevated square measuring 156 feet each way. In the central chamber, there are two uninscribed tombs of marble stone. The platform of the building is octagonal and the cupola is turnip-shaped.No historian has given an account of these graves, yet they agree with this probability that these graves may belong to the personal ward attendants of Mumtaz Mahal.Just opposite this building, there is a red stone edifice of the same type.

The Eastern Gate

This gate faces towards Fatehabad. There is a domed tomb erected on an elevated platform near this gate . This Tomb was built in the memory of another wife of Shahjahan called Sirhindi begum. Due to this, the gate is known as 'Sirhi Darwaza'. The main building is eight sided, having twenty four arches,a big hall and a verandah.

The Western Gate

It is the main entrance to the Taj Mahal and this gate faces towards the Agra cantonment and Agra city. There is a red sand stone edifice outside this gate which is known as Fatehpur Begum another wife of Shahjahan. It is erected on a beautiful terrace.

The Gate Way To The Taj Mahal

This gate way is an octagonal entrance hall, surrounded by small rooms on both the sides of the floors having beautifully ornamented gates on two sides, one opening towards the court yard side and the other to wards the Mausoleum itself. On the three sides of this gateway , there are strong balconies. The Gateway is a master piece of fine inlay work in itself.

Do's and Don'ts

INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS VISTING TAJ MAHAL

Water bottle is allowed inside the monument. Shoe covers, Half Litre water bottle and Tourist Guide Map of Agra, Battery Bus & Golf Cart Service are provided free of cost with the foreigner's entry ticket for the Taj. Wheel Chair for Disabled People & First Aid are available at ASI Office at Taj Mahal Ph. No : 0562 - 2330498.

Do's

  • Tourists are adviced to use South Entry gate in case of long queues on East and West gate,which is 250 mtrs from East & West Gate.
  • Tourists must co-operate in keeping the monument neat & clean by using dustbins.
  • Tourists are advised to hire service of approved guides & photographers who exhibit their identity cards.
  • Taj Museum inside Taj Mahal Complex opens from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM, entry free.
  • No Polluting vehicles are allowed within 500 mtrs. radius of Taj Mahal. Parking Facility is available at Shilpgram for Eastern Gate and at Amrood-Ka -Teela for Western Gate.

Don'ts

  • Eating and smoking is strictly prohibited inside Taj Mahal. Arms, ammunitions, fire, smoking items, tobacco products, liquor, eatables (Toffees), head phones, knives, wire, mobile charger, electric goods (except camera), Tripods are also prohibited.
  • Mobile phones are to be kept switched off.
  • Please avoid carrying big bags and books inside the monument, this may increase your security check time.
  • Photography is prohibited inside the main mausoleum.
  • Avoid touching & scratching the walls & surfaces of the monument as these are heritage sites and need special care.
  • Visitors are requested not to make noise inside.
  • Above mentioned list of prohibited items along with mobile phones are banned for night viewing of the Taj Mahal. Video camera, extra batteries are prohibited though still camera is permitted after the security check.

Timings

Timings : 6:00 AM to 7:30 PM (Taj Mahal remains closed on Friday)

Entrance Fee: Rs. 750 (Foreign Nationals)
Rs. 20 (Indians, during daytime)
Rs. 110 (Indians, during sunrise and sunset)

City: Agra, On the Banks of River Yamuna
State: Uttar Pradesh
Distance from Delhi: 204 km (approximately)
Best Time to Visit: October to March (Winters)

How to reach Taj Mahal

By Air

The fastest way of reaching Taj Mahal, Agra is by air. The city of Taj, Agra, has its own airport that is around 7 km from the city center. Indian Airlines operates flights to Agra on a daily basis.

By Rail

There is a good network of trains connecting Agra with the rest of the country. Apart from the main railway station of Agra Cantonment, there are other two stations also, that of Raja-ki-Mundi and Agra Fort. The main trains connecting Agra with Delhi are Palace on Wheels, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj Express

By Road

There are regular bus services from Agra to a number of important cities. The main bus stand of Idgah has a number of buses running for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura, Fatehpur-Sikri, etc. The fastest mode of road transport from Delhi is by 165 km long 6-lane Noida-Agra express way.

Local Transportation

After reaching the city also, you need some sort of local transport to reach Taj Mahal. You can easily get taxi, tempo, auto-rickshaw and cycle rickshaw in the city that will take you to your destination. Prepaid taxis are also available if you want to visit the various places near the city. For the adventurous kind, there are bicycles that can be hired on hourly basis from different parts of the city. Since, diesel and petrol vehicle are not permitted in the Taj Mahal area, you can find battery-operated buses, horse-driven tongas, rickshaws and other pollution-free vehicles there.

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