About sight: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, one of the world's greatest architectural monuments, is quite rightly considered the symbol of India. The ancient rulers had built magnificent tombs before, for example, the Great Pyramids of Giza or the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (named after the king Mausol, such sepulchers were called mausoleums since that time). These two monuments were reckoned among the Seven Wonders of the World. And Taj Mahal could also have been included in the number of Modern World's Wonders.

Similar constructions could only appear in some great empire where they glorified the magnificence of its rules, however, the uniqueness of Taj Mahal is that the mausoleum was built not for the ruler but for his beloved wife, and that in the Muslim country.

Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, under which the Kingdom of the Great Moguls was in its prime period. The Europeans who attended the court of Shah Jahan were unanimous about his fabulous wealth. However, this didn’t prevent him from falling in love with a poor but very beautiful girl, whom he met at the bazaar, and marry her. And since then she was his most intimate friend and advisor.

Her nickname was Mumtaz Mahal (decoration of a palace) or Taj Mahal (crown of the palace). For 17 years she begot 13 children. She followed her husband in his military campaigns, and during one of them, in 1629, she died while begetting their fourteenth child. Shah Jahan mourned for 2 years and sworn to build a mausoleum, which would worth of his great love. You can say that he fulfilled his promise.

Taj Mahal was built during 1631 - 1648. The best materials were delivered from different countries, and 20 000 workers labored at its construction. Ustad Isa Khan of Shiraz was the assumed architect of Taj Mahal. Architectural style of Taj Mahal combines the features of Central Asian, Persian and Islamic cultures. Taj Mahal isn’t only a mausoleum as there are minarets of the mosque on both its sides. Suras of the Koran are inscribed along the archways.

After Taj Mahal had been finished, Shah Jahan decided to build the same mausoleum of black marble for himself on the opposite side of the river (possibly, the story isn’t true), but in 1658 his son Aurangzeb took the power and imprisoned him in the tower of Agra's Red Fort, from which window Taj Mahal could be seen. Probably, this is also a legend. By the other version, Shah Jahan was stripped of power and honorably lived in the Fort with his daughter who insisted that he was buried in the sepulcher of his wife in Taj Mahal.

The Mausoleum of Taj Mahal is on the bank of Jamuna. It is very beautiful at the dawn when the domes of Taj Mahal are reflected in the water of the river. A wonderful garden featuring fountains and swimming-pools has been planted around Taj Mahal (its area is 18 hectares). You should pass into the garden through the great gate symbolizing the Eden entrance.

The Mausoleum is located on the outskirts of Agra. Agra, in turn, is 200 km of Delhi. You can go there within the framework of a one-day trip to Delhi, but, surely, Agra is worth spending there 2-3 days. Apart from Taj Mahal, Agra also has a lot of other interesting sights. Besides Agra, you should go to Jaipur, which is 150 km to the west of Agra. From Delhi you can get to Agra by a bus or fast train.

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