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The Taj Mahal: 20 Things Everyone Needs To Know About The Crown Jewel Of India

Taj Mahal is listed among the Seven Wonders of the World. Inspired by love, this iconographic mausoleum located in India has amazed millions of tourists from across the globe. India’s rich history and the best of Mughal architecture is reflected in this masterpiece. We have all heard of the Taj Mahal and how it elucidates and personifies love. It has become one of the striking symbols of both architecture and emotion and has been rightly adjudged as one of the Wonders of the World.

This monumental charmer is beyond any doubt one of the most photographed locations of the world. Taj Mahal is considered to be the jewel of Muslim art in India. Tourists try to click images from all different locations possible until they reach their desired image of the capture. The ivory colored marble palace blows the mind of the viewers at the first take itself.

The epitome of love, Taj Mahal has its elegance and heavenliness undefinable. There are a lot of details about this wonderful architectural brilliance which we do not know of and we are going to shed light on them and familiarize you with the facts. A man-made wonder, the Taj Mahal is a visual treat in every respect.

20 Everything Is Covered In Beautiful Decorations, Except One Thing...

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People stand in queue during the peak season waiting to witness this miraculous creation. The whole of this magnificent palace has beautifully decorated interiors as well as exteriors which leave the tourists wonderstruck. But there is this one place which is kept simple and it is the grave itself, the prime reason behind constructing this world wonder.

It is interesting to know that the Muslim law does not permit graves to be prettified. It forbids any kind of décor. And so, Shah Jahan chose the grave to be placed at a lower level of the mausoleum. In fact, the bodies of the love birds were placed next to each other with their faces turned towards Mecca. Simplicity took its best form here.

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The display of the graves in the main chamber is only a false cenotaph to the public. The real graves of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are positioned at a lower level of the Taj Mahal. The lower tomb chamber is in a rectangular shape and is not accessible to visitors. The graves are similar to the one’s placed above but are decorated with other motifs. On the Mumtaz’s grave are inscriptions of Quran and on sides of the cenotaph are the ninety-nine names of Allah. The ceiling however is not decorated in any form but the room is embraced with marbles.

19 All Of The Taj Mahal Is Symmetrical. Again, Except For One Thing...

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One certainly jaw-dropping experience is staring toward the main central dome of the Taj Mahal, standing at a height of 240 feet, which is surrounded by four other domes, each shorter than the main dome.

The Taj Mahal is loved by many for the kind of mirror symmetry which it exhibits. One is sure to be astounded by the precision of symmetry that this architecture boasts. You can almost split the image into two halves and see how immaculately it overlaps (seriously, try it on your screen by covering half of the image). See, it really does!

However, the grave site is one place which doesn’t conform to the rest of the symmetry. Mumtaz Mahal’s casket is located in the center of the palace crypt but when Shah Jahan died later in the year 1666, the resting place in the mausoleum was placed in west of the center. So, this alignment breaks the otherwise striking symmetry of this monument of love.

Regardless, the sheer beauty of this ancient architecture still remains eternal just like the love story that forms the base for it. The architects planned it with exceptional precision and invested a great amount of time in the entire set up.

Undoubtedly it is recognized as one of the finest pieces of art in the history of India.

18 Insane Safety Measures Are Built In To The Palace

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One can only imagine the kind of planning and manpower that went into the making of this massive architecture. In fact, much of the design was implemented after carefully planning the strategies.

The palace has been designed in such a way that should a collapse take place, everything would fall away from the tomb and the crypt of Mumtaz Mahal would stay safe and secure.

The whole of the world is surprised by the never-ending love of Shah Jahan and to the extent he planned the after home of Mumtaz Mahal, his loving wife.

If you focused on the four minarets of the Taj Mahal, they have been designed in such a way that it would fall off from the monument and collapse on the ground. During the time it was constructed, it was common for massive architectural constructions to fall owing to their own weight. So, there is a lot more to the aesthetic beauty as far as this monument is concerned.

The other factor to be considered was the surrounding areas where Taj Mahal is built. Had the Yamuna river not been there, the Taj Mahal had high chances of collapsing. In Fact, in the 20th century, there were findings of structural decay in the monument. There also were predictions made that this symbol of love would collapse in the near future but this report has been dismissed by the Architectural survey.

17 It Was A Whopping Two-Decade Construction Timeline!

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Like it is said, Rome was not built in a day. Neither was this icon. Taj Mahal took two decades to complete and showcase this spectacular beauty. Each and every corner of this mausoleum is very carefully and skillfully created with the best of resources. In 1631, Mumtaz died and the construction began around 1632 and continued for several years. The main mausoleum was built by 1643 but was extended until 1648. The surrounding buildings and the spectacular garden were completed in about five years’ time line.

Taj Mahal is constructed on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India. It is spread on a massive 22.44 hectares of land and comprises of tombs, waterworks infrastructure and gardens. The construction plan was segregated into five sections comprising of a moonlight garden to the north of the Yamuna river, riverfront terrace containing the Mausoleum, The Charbagh Garden containing pavilions, the Jilaukhana for accommodation of tomb attendants and The Taj Ganji a small town. This great palace of love is a blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles of work. Taj Mahal, previously known as a complex was given the World Heritage site status by UNESCO in 1983, worth the time invested in creating this wonder.

16 The Cost Involved Is Almost Incomprehensible

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This majestic beauty involved 32 million Indian Rupees at the time of construction, equivalent to over US $ 1 billion at the time. A trust, named Waqf, was established for the upkeep of the mausoleum. The funds were provided by the Royal Treasury of the Emperor and the Treasury of the Government of Agra Province. Income also came from around 30 villages in the Agra district and also from the taxes generates from trade. There was a team managing the finances who were in charge of every bit of it.

Most of the expenditure went toward the hefty cost of 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones, as well as the wages paid to the workers. Tibet supplied the Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli came from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka supplied Sapphire and Carnelian was procured from Arabia. This is only a small list from what made the palace look glorious. China, Turkey, Egypt and other countries supplied rare shells, corals and also pearly.

Sources reveal that more than 400 kg of gold was invested in the making. Apart from the construction cost, Taj Mahal also required a huge maintenance cost especially for the shining exteriors to keep up to the tourists and the entire world.

15 It Took More People To Build The Taj Mahal Than You'll Ever Meet In Your Life

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More than 20,000 workers were recruited to construct this wonder. It involved work of several artisans, craftsmen, laborers, calligraphers, stonecutters and painters, and the list goes on. The principle Architect, Lahauri, led this time and guided them throughout the construction of the palace. He took charge and deployed people belonging to various professions as per requirement. The experience they gained would never be the same for the entire universe. There was magic in their hands which reflected in the gorgeous charm.

Under the supervision of the prime Architect, there was an entire board of architects consisting of major architects like Abdu l-Karim, Makramat Khat, Ma’mur Khan. There also was a team of calligraphers and the head calligrapher, Abdul Haqq, was believed to be a down to earth person. The whole group of manpower involved made sure to showcase the Mughal architecture through the buildings of the palace. This exceptional beauty has stunning gardens, shining white marbles and lavish embellishments.

It took years of hard work and effort from the team to make this palace a paradise on earth. As the saying goes, the more the merrier. This example fits perfectly in this situation.

14 Hundreds Of Animals Did Their Part Too (Thanks Guys!)

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Taj Mahal is located in Western Uttar Pradesh state of North India. On the south is the Yamuna river and the Agra fort popularly know as the Red Fort is located on the right bank of the Yamuna river.

Human resources were a great part of the construction project. The work of the humans involved is undeniably appreciable. They spent the major years of their life in building a place now known as the Wonder of the World.

Animals are said to be man’s best friends and this one case in the history of the universe proves it aptly. Being a great source of strength, several elephants were taken in to help the construction of the Taj Mahal. Along with the humans, almost 1000 elephants were involved in transferring heavy building material.

The elephants transported massive stones and other materials to the Taj Mahal. Imagine the land spread in 42 acres! With five main sections to the entire plan, all the materials were required to be carried from one place to another. Had only human beings recruited to serve the purpose of construction, the 22 long years of project could taken even longer than dreamt off. Their quickest and best help in terms of transportation were the elephants.

13 The Palace Goes Incognito During Times Of War

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Of course, the Indian government too takes great pride in this massive feat of architecture. It is an iconic landmark present in the nation and is a true symbol of everlasting love.

Unfortunately it is common to associate such architectural brilliance as a vulnerable target during the times of war. Owing to this, the palace is often camouflaged whenever there is a war-like situation.

During the Second World War and even during the collected wars which were fought numerous times between India and Pakistan, the Indian government ensured that they had their iconic landmark protected, especially against airborne attacks. This is why a lot of scaffolding was done so that the exact structure could be concealed, which would make airborne attackers clueless about the precise location of the palace.

Such was the extent of the camouflage that air attackers only saw a pile of unwanted haphazardly dumped bamboo rather than spotting the iconic Taj Mahal while trying to attack.

Any heritage site is unquestionably the most prized possession of a country and they try their best to save it during difficult times. Very rare images of the situation can be found online or in the records as the project was kept secret.

12 No Cars Allowed! Well, Maybe Teslas?

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When any negative factors influence your own health, you tend to keep the factors away, right? Similarly, when the pollution levels were increasing and hampering the charisma of the Taj Mahal, the government decided to keep automobiles at a safe distance from the palace. This will ensure that the grandeur is protected and is not destroyed due to external environmental factors.

Buses and even cars are restricted from coming within 500 meters of this Palace. This was implemented mainly to avoid the exhaust from gasoline vehicles from deteriorating the exteriors of the building. Tourists can reach the handicraft village around where several rickshaw drivers are waiting for their turn to drop people to the Palace. These driver-pulled rickshaws are considered as the eco-friendliest mode of transportation to protect the ornate, Taj Mahal.

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The government of India and the local authorities have also invested funds to keep the surrounding city clean. Both the population and pollution in and around Agra has accumulated to the level of troubling not only the locals but even the foreigners are facing issues in their travel itinerary. The initiative of keeping the cars and buses away from the monument has at least controlled the situation for some time. But what’s in the future?

11 People Punch The Wall, But Why?

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The whole of Taj Mahal is carefully planned and designed. From the exteriors to the interiors, each and every corner, each and every wall is a result of great minds and efforts. Amidst the perfect of the building, people were quick to draw several assumptions not only related to the workers but also on the building itself. Based on one particular incident or a few rumors around, several talks were a customary discussion among the public.

There are a lot of myths associated with this landmark. One of the various myths is that beating the silhouette on the monument’s finial is known to cause the water to flow. Even till date, grounders are known to spot broken bangles and bracelets near the silhouette as many people still believe in this myth.

The visitors slam their knuckles hard against the wall. Even tourists who are unaware of the what it actually signifies, they begin imitating the same act, assuming high spirituality involved in doing so. Being centuries old, any such monument is covered by cultural as well as religious superstitious beliefs. As such, the Taj Mahal also attracted certain amount of supernatural attention. However, historians have rejected it entirely.

10 Shah Jahan Built This Temple Of Love For Mumtaz. Bet You Didn't Know She Was Actually His Third Wife

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Shah Jahan was the fifth Mughal Emperor who was at power from 1628 to 1658. Mirza Shahab-ud-din Baig Muhammad Khan Khurram was his actual name and the name Shah Jahan was given to him as a princely title. They were engaged in 1607 and were only about 14 to 15 years of age then. It was not only a young love but also love at first sight. They got married five years later. The birth name of Mumtaz Mahal was Arjumand Banu Begum.

Shah Jahan had other marriages too. Princess Kandahari Begum was Shah Jahan’s fist wife with whom he had his first child and Akbarabadi Mahal was his second wife.

In 1612 Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal got married and were believed to be in a happy marriage life. She travelled with him all over the Mughal Empire. Affection, intimacy and deep love was found between the two. Mumtaz was believed to be his best and perfect wife in all aspects of life. She even was known to help the prince in the various aspects of society welfare and also be a part of crucial discussions and advisory boards. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan had a legendary love story.

9 Jahan Fathered 14 Kids! Sadly His Wife Didn't Make It Through The Last Birth

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Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child in Burhanpur. She was in the labor for 30 hours before it all turned sour. Shah Jahan was inconsolable at the time of her death. He loved her more than anybody else. She always had his undivided attention.

On the deathbed, he promised her that he will not remarry and shall build the richest palace on her grave. He decided to build the world’s richest mausoleum in the memory of his jewel and he fulfilled his desire in 22 years of time. Yes, this is a monument of pure love and unparalleled beauty! After the death of Shah Jahan on 1666, his body was also placed in a tomb next to the tomb of his jewel and his partner for life, Mumtaz Mahal.

The team of architects planned the main gateway, the mosque, a building mirroring the mosque, a picturesque garden and the main mausoleum with the four grand minarets. All the above were the total of the plan and the team wanted no addition or alteration to it. Workers not only from India but also from other countries like Ottoman and Europe were deployed to construct the palace.

8 Love Is Expressed Everywhere! Through Calligraphy, Inside And Out

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On the main gate of the palace is written, “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the lord at peace with him, and He at peace with you.” Abdul Haq created this and was later titled “Amanat Khan” by his emperor, Shah Jahan.

We all know how every word seems ever more beautiful when written using the art of calligraphy. Well, as Taj Mahal epitomizes beauty and even personifies it, Shah Jahan took every possible step to ensure he lived up to the reputation. The interiors and exteriors are filled with an enchanting and majestic display of the best calligraphy work. The tomb has the finest display of calligraphy and this was done to show the kind of endless love he had for his wife.

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Apart from this, there are equally 99 names of the Allah which has been inscribed on the sides of the tomb. These names are all given the artistic touch of calligraphy as the Emperor believed that it would bless his beautiful wife in heavens who would be surrounded by all things beautiful. The never ending beauty of this palace has the best ornament in the form of calligraphy decorated on the surface of the Taj Mahal.

7 The Taj’s Inspiration Was Actually An Imaginative Vision Of Heaven

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The story of Taj Mahal has melted hearts of millions and left them to think for the rest of their ages on the concept of true love. Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, their love for each other was eternal. They are the best examples to the present and the future generations as a couple.

Shah Jahan titled his wife Mumtaz Mahal meaning the “Jewel of the Palace” such was his respect and honor for his beloved wife. Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their child due to several complications. He loved her so much that her loss was unbearable and he became careless towards his own existence. He wanted her to live in peace and beauty the way her nature was. He wanted her to live an afterlife, even more beautiful than the life she was living in, richer and close to his heart.

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He assumed how his jewel, i.e., Mumtaz Mahal would be living in heaven and the surrounding beauty. He tried to build the same experience for her by giving Taj Mahal a shape and beauty worth the entire universe and signifying his love for her. He promised his princess that he would build the richest mausoleum over her grave.

6 India Couldn't Do It All, So They Got Their Neighbors Involved

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Taj Mahal is a combination of the richest and most gorgeous elements present on this earth. It took more than 22 years to build this grand colossal structure and net cost at that time was estimated to be 32 million. Of course, given the scale and dynamics of constructions, the purchases were surely not limited to India alone as materials came in from different parts of the world.

A lot of different types of marbles were used for making the Taj Mahal and these were brought in from various regions and countries including Punjab, China, Afghanistan, Rajasthan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Arabia. There are as many as 28 different kinds of rare and precious stones which were brought in for inlay work. Several countries were a part of this white marbled monument. From Arabia came Carnelian, from Sri Lanka came sapphire, turquoise from Egypt, Hade and crystals came from China and several other materials were sourced from other countries.

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The only concern was that when the construction was done, the palace should stand tall for the whole world to marvel its scenic extravaganza and given the popularity of the palace even now, it looks like the Emperor did a fair job.

5 Color Effects Create A Whole New, Incredible Spectacle!

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This magnificent structure has many more facts to its existence. The Taj Mahal changes color depending upon the light. Pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden under the moonlit sky is the spectacular view it explodes. The very description of it makes the tourists visualize a seamless beauty in their imaginary world.

Depending upon the time of the day and the moon as well, Taj Mahal appears to shine in different colors every time.

The temperature is different at different times of the day which reflects in the color of the palace. On the first rays of the sun, the Taj Mahal glows like a new bride and the beauty increases with passing of the day. Dawn or dusk are the best times to witness its actual charm. Also the crowd is comparatively less during these hours of visit.

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Taj Mahal is closed on all Fridays and hence it is good to plan the trip in advance keeping in mind the off days and the timings as well. Photography is allowed with prior permission and so it is a good idea to carry your clicker along and capture the grandeur with its various color shades. The appearance of this palace keeps changing, making people awestruck in its beauty.

4 No Sir, You Can Keep Your Arm Today

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The Taj Mahal is one of the finest examples for Mughal architecture and is one of the most symmetrical structures in the world. When a particular site or a monument draws tourist attention, it is evident that a lot of rumors circulate within no time. Considering the fact that the Taj Mahal is a historical monument, several beliefs dating back centuries were often taken seriously. One belief or rumor, is that of amputation.

No historic writings witness any such happenings of amputation. There exist rumors that the 22000 workers and the chief architects involved were murdered or mutilated so that they do not build any thing similar to the Taj Mahal. It also was believed that the emperor, Shah Jahan himself ordered this rule. If this had happened so, there must have been certain archaeological evidence like skeletons of hands or a mention in any books or foreign tourists notes.

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Shah Jahan, under his reign constructed several other monuments and also founded a city. If any such incident of amputation existed, no workers would ever agree to create the other monuments of Moti Masjid, Jama Masjid and the Red fort. This belief is hence considered to be a myth among the other false assumptions known of this artistic vision.

3 The Number Of Visitors Is Startling

The Taj Mahal, meaning ‘Crown of Palace’ is one of the favorite tourist destination in India for locals as well as for the International tourists visiting India. UNESCO has listed Taj Mahal as a World Heritage Site and is also among the seven wonders of the world. Due to safety and conservation concerns, the domestic tourists are limited to 40,000 per day and on busy tourist days, upped to 70,000. It's estimated that the icon welcomes 2-4 million visitors each year.

If a search is taken online, countless tour guides and experiences are listed which can give details of every small thing. There also are several private tour companies with guides communicating in multiple languages to help the tourists visit the Taj Mahal. There also are services where the tour guides take the tourists to home cooked food in the locals of Agra.

All fascinating facts and history of this world wonder can be known by communicating with the tour guides and locals. For people are new to the place, hiring a guide is always the best option as they can guide you on the vest time to check in and experience the grandeur.

2 There's Actually A Few More People Buried There Too

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The reason behind Shah Jahan building the Taj Mahal was to fulfill his promise given to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal on her death bed that he would build richness over her grave. After the death of Mumtaz Mahal, she was buried in loveliness and elegance around her. The love of Shah Jahan was so admirable that after his death, Shah Jahan too was buried inside the Taj Mahal, in the same chamber containing Mumtaz Mahal’s grave. They were buried with their heads facing the right, towards the Mecca.

The Palace has borders on three sides by red stone walls. The side of the Taj Mahal which faces the river is open. The heavenliness of the site is a delight to the tourists.

The couple symbolizing love were buried next to each other inside the Taj Mahal beneath the main inner chamber. The actual graves of the two are located at a lower level. “a tear drop on the cheeks of time” is how the famous Rabindranath Tagore honored this glorifying beauty.

The outers of the Taj Mahal also contained a few more mausoleums. Shah Jahan’s other wives along with a larger tomb for Mumtaz’s dearest servant are buried in mausoleums outside the palace.

1 Step 1, Build Taj Mahal. Step 2, Get Behind Bars

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In 1658, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb put Shah Jahan under house arrest. In the last years of his life, he was only able to take a view of his Jewel from his window. In fact the only view he had from his prison was the Taj Mahal.

If Shah Jahan had to glance at his beauty from his place of prison today, the multiplied pollution due to heavy traffic and industries would not let his eyes feast in the most needed period of his life. There are stains all over the walls and black and green patches due to flies.

He was imprisoned at Shah Burj of the Agra Fort for almost eight years. His daughter Jahanara Begum took care of him in his last years of life and stayed besides him in the toughest of times. He did have all the comforts in the prison as well but he was not allowed to socialize with anybody except in the presence of his son Aurangzeb. After his death, he was buried next to his beloved wife inside the chamber of Taj Mahal. Such a loving and tragic story is what makes this location an audience drawer emotionally as well as physically.

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