The Taj Mahal is the most recognizable building in India and a magnificent work of art. It is a stunning ivory-white marble mausoleum. it was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shan Jahan. The Mughal emperor Shan Jahan built the mausoleum to house his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. He would also be laid to rest there himself.

Today it is one of the main attractions in all of India and a must-see for anyone visiting the country. Be sure to read up about it first though to enhance the experience, there are some things that everyone should know about the Taj Mahal before visiting it.

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History Of the Taj Mahal

It is also a symbol of the enduring love of a husband for his favorite wife and a testament to how wealthy the Mughal empire was at this time. During his reign, the Mughal empire was at the high point of its wealth and power (the Mughals were Muslim Turco-Mongol invaders from Central Asia who took over much of India).

  • Favorite Wife: Shah Jahan Called Her Mumtaz Mahal or "Chosen One Of The Palace"

The poets of his court wrote that the moon hid its face in shame because of her beauty. Unfortunately, Mumtaz Mahal died prematurely during childbirth in 1631.

  • Built: From 1632 to 1643 (Largely Complete By Then)

In a cruel twist of irony. Shah Jahan would live out the last of his days gazing out at the majestic mausoleum that he had built that housed his beloved wife and was to house him. He had been overthrown by his son Aurangzeb who had seized the throne and imprisoned his father in Agra's Red Fort. From here he had a commanding view of the Taj Mahal from the confines of his prison window.

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About The Taj Mahal And the Complex

The Taj Mahal is actually just the centerpiece of a much larger complex that includes a mosque and a guest house with a stunning set of formal gardens enclosed on three sides by a crenelated wall.

  • Fun Fact: The Population of Agra Is Over 1.5 Million But One Can Still See Herds Of Waterbuffalo Walking Down The Street There

The project was a colossal undertaking and would have employed around 20,000 artisans and cost a fortune. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Today it is regarded as one of the best examples of Mughal architecture.

  • Visitors: Receives A Massive 7-8 Million Visitors Annually

Many consider the Taj Maha one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. It is a testament to what is possible with marble.

The Taj Mahal is framed by four minarets from which Muslims are called to prayer. Interestingly, each has been designed with a slight outward lean, presumably to protect the main mausoleum in the event that one should fall.

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Often cropped out of the pictures of the Taj Mahal, flanking it are two red sandstone buildings on either side. The one to the east was once a guesthouse, while the one to the west is a mosque.

The Taj Mahal is set on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. Stretching out in front of the mausoleum are lush and well-manicured gardens. These remain meticulously manicured and well kept to this day. And then there's the giant reflecting pool that perfectly reflects the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

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Visiting The Taj Mahal Today

When one goes to Agra to see the Taj Mahal today, be prepared for a contrast. The city is impoverished and one can even see herds of water buffalo walking in the middle of the city. The air can also be heavily polluted. But step into the confines of the Taj Mahal and one is in another world (except for the air pollution). In fact, the Taj Mahal has to be cleaned to remove all the insect poop and pollution.

When planning one's trip to the Taj Mahal, don't go on Friday as it is closed.

  • Foreigner Price: 1,100 Rupee (Around $15.00)
  • Local Price: 50 Rupee (Around $0.65)
  • Children: Under 15 Are Free (Both Indian and Foreigner)
  • Open: 30 Minutes Before Sunrise and Closed 30 Minutes Before Sunset
  • Closed: Every Friday (Otherwise Always Open)

When visiting one should explore everywhere. As one enters the mausoleum one must put protective covers (supplied on site) over one's shoes to protect the marble of the mausoleum. While the Taj Mahal is stunning on the inside, it doesn't feel that large. It is the most stunning seen from the outside.

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