Facts about the history of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631. The Taj Mahal was constructed between the years 1632 and 1648 and the intricate carvings and other decoration works took few years more.

Shah Jahan the powerful Mogul Emperor, spared no expense or effort to make the Taj Mahal the most beautiful building in the world in memory of his beloved wife, and that is why Taj Mahal is a wonder of world today and why millions visit the Taj Mahal.

Shah Jehan employed the best archtects available and imported the costliest of building materials from all over the world. It took 22 years to build the Taj Mahal with the help of about 1,000 elephants and 20,000 workers. 'Taj Mahal' means 'crown of palaces' and the Taj Mahal is made of white marble with intricate carvings inlaid with jade and precious stones. The pure white marble used in the Taj Mahal is claimed to have been imported from Italy. The main feature of the Taj Mahal is its large white ‘onion dome’ with 4 smaller domed kiosks known as 'Chhatris' around it in symmetry.

How big is the Taj Mahal building

The picture below shows a complete view of Taj Mahal compound from the river Yamuna side. This photo gives a clear idea of the layout of the Taj Mahal complex

View of the Taj Mahal from behind on the opposite bank of the river Yamuna side
View of the Taj Mahal from behind on opposite bank of river Yamuna

The main Taj Mahal building is all in pure white marble and built on a raised platform about 20 feet or 6 meters above the surrounding land. This platform is of a square shape with length of each side being 186 feet or 56.7 meters.

In each of the four corners there are 4 minarets of height 138 feet or 42 meters. The main dome is 213 feet or 65 meters high. The main onion shaped dome has a base diameter of 58 feet or 17.6 meters and is 84 feet or 25.6 meters high from the domes base. The Taj Mahal made of brick and lime mortar and then covered with pure white marble.

The Taj Mahal compound wall is approximately 1,000x1900 feet or 305x580 meters and the area of the Taj Mahal compound is about 50 acres. The Taj Mahal compound is filled with gardens and fountains around the main Taj Mahal mausoleum with its onion domes.

The compound wall of the Taj Mahal complex is clearly visible in the above picture of the Taj Mahal. The main gate of the Taj Mahal is at the top north end and the milky white Taj Mahal at the bottom south end of the complex. To the east and west of the main Taj Mahal structure are two similar buildings known as the 'Masjid' or Mosque and 'Jawab' or a guesthouse. Bordering the south end of the Taj Mahal compound is the the Yamuna river.

Why was the Taj Mahal built and for whom was it built

The Taj Mahal was built by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal who lost her life when delivering their 14th child.

Shah Jahan was the son of Jehangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor of India and the grandson of Akbar the Great. Legend has it that Shah Jehan met his future wife while he was still a boy, when shopping in Delhi. It was love at first sight for Shah Jehan and he married the girl, then known as Arjumand Banu Begum, later to renamed as Mumtaz Mahal and his queen.

Shah Jehan married Mumtaz Mahal in 1612, which was 16 years before he became the all-powerful Mogul Emperor in 1628. Mumtaz died in 1631 and during the nineteen years of their marriage they had fourteen children. Mumtaz died while she was travelling with her husband Shah Jahan and legend has it that shah Jehan was so overcome with sorrow on seeing that his wife was dying, made a solemn promise to build her a mausoleum, so beautiful, that no one will ever forget her.

Taj Mahal legends facts and history

The story of Emperor Shah Jahan building the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife has led to many legends and myths surrounding the Taj Mahal. Some of these are listed below

  1. Shah Jehan planned to build a mausoleum for himself, an exact replica of the one he built for his wife, but this time it would be a black marble Taj Mahal. He planned to build the black Taj Mahal on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna and the two Taj Mahals, white and black, to be connected by a beautiful bridge across the Yamuna River.
  2. Shah Jehan did not want anyone else to copy the Taj Mahal so he cut off the fingers of the master craftsmen who built the Taj Mahal.
  3. It is said that in 1830, the Governor General of British India, Lord William Bentinck, wanted to demolish the Taj Mahal and sell off the white marble used in the Taj Mahal. Fortunately, since there were no buyers for the marble, the plan was dropped.
  4. During second world war it was feared that Hitler wanted to bomb the Taj Mahal. So camouflage scaffoldings were erected to hide the Taj Mahal from air attack. Later, it is said, the same tactic was employed by the Indian Government during some of its wars with neighbouring Pakistan.
  5. There is even speculation publicised by a Mr. Purushottam Nagesh Oak, popularly known as P.N. Oak, that the Taj Mahal was actually an ancient Hindu Shiva Temple known as 'Tejo Mahalaya'. He has also claimed that both Christianity and Islam are an offshoot of Hinduism and that the Vatican and the 'Kaaba' in Mecca were once Hindu temples to Shiva. He is not taken seriously in India.

Good hotels in Agra to see Taj Mahal

There are many hotels in Agra not far from the Taj Mahal and very convenient to visit it. To find a good not too expensive hotel in Agra, the best solution is to go to one of the online hotel booking websites like Booking.com: this is the link to their Agra Hotel Booking page

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