One of the seven wonders of the world “Taj Mahal” is located in the city of Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the most famous monument of the Mughal rule built on the southern bank of the Yamuna river on the outskirts of the city. Famous all over the world, this white marble masterpiece is the main center of tourist attraction. The Taj Mahal is a wonderful act of love of a great ruler towards his beloved queen. The most enchanting and beautiful view of the Taj Mahal is visible on the full moon night.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan over the tomb of his wife Arjumand Banu Begum. Arjumand Banu Begum was also known as Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was named Taj Mahal after the name of Mumtaz Mahal. After Shah Jahan’s death, he too was buried in the Taj Mahal next to his wife.
– Rabindranath Tagore
The Taj Mahal is an excellent example of Mughal architecture. A beautiful amalgamation of Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic architecture has been done in its construction.The Taj Mahal was designated as 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”. The white dome of the Taj Mahal and the central tomb covered with marble are the best examples of architectural beauty.
The Taj Mahal is built on a rectangular plot of 580×305 meters and is aligned north-south. There is a square garden in the middle of the plot of Taj Mahal, the length of each side of which is 305 meters. The garden is bounded by two smaller rectangular blocks on the north and south. The southern rectangular section has a gateway made of sandstone leading to the premises and attendants’ building. The northern rectangular section reaches the banks of the Yamuna river. Here are the most important buildings, such as the famous mausoleum, which has two identical buildings on the western and eastern sides, the mosque and the jawab (the building that balances the sense of aesthetics). It is surrounded by a high boundary wall with octagonal pavilions at its corners. This boundary wall surrounds the northern section and the central part of the garden. There are stables and watchmen’s rooms in the south. The planning and construction of the entire complex was done with integrity, as there was no custom of any later additions in Mughal period building works.
The mausoleum is built on a seven meter high marble plinth, with four identical entrances and a massive arch, which is 33 meters high on each side. The structure is completed by a spinning top style small dome resting on its tall cylindrical base. The top of the mausoleum is harmonized by the mullion and urn above each arch and the umbrella-like dome at each corner. There is a three-storey tower each at the four corners of the platform. The marble of the mausoleum is very smooth, while it is used in the brick style in the minarets. There is an octagonal chamber inside the tomb.
The construction of Taj Mahal started around 1632. A council of architects from India, Persia, Central Asia and other countries prepared a plan for the construction of this building. The map of this monument was made by the Indian architect Isa. Some people estimate that the help of architects from Italy or France was also taken in making the map. More than 20 thousand workers and artisans completed its construction work in 22 years. About four crore rupees were spent in making it. Apart from India, there were also laborers from Persia and Turkey. Shah Jahan had the hands of the workers who built the Taj Mahal cut off so that he could not build another monument like this. Taj has a distinct style of his own which pulls the audience towards him.
Arabic inscriptions in black marble are used to decorate both the south gateway and main mausoleum. The black marble lettering is inlaid into white marble scroll-like borders that frame the architectural features. Sweeping letters and a strong emphasis on horizontal and vertical strokes create an almost grid-like effect in places.
One of the key builders of the Taj Mahal was Kelly Grapher Amanat Khan Shirazi. The inscription on the tomb stone is written by the poet Ghiyasuddin, while the dome of the Taj Mahal was built by Ismail Khan Afridi, who was from Turkey. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of the masons of the Taj Mahal. The name of the architect of Taj Mahal was Ustad Ahmad Lahori.
The materials for the Taj Mahal were brought from all over India and Central Asia. The help of a fleet of 1000 elephants was taken to bring this material to the construction site. The central dome of the Taj Mahal is 187 feet high. The red sandstone of the Taj Mahal was brought from Fatehpur Sikri, jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli and sapphire from Sri Lanka, coal from Arabia, and diamonds from cornelian and emerald. Altogether 28 types of rare, precious and semi-precious stones were used in the carvings of the Taj Mahal. The main building material, white marble, was brought from the mines of Makrana in Nagaur district, Rajasthan.
The main entrance to the Taj Mahal is from the south gate. This entrance is 151 feet long and 117 feet wide and the height of this entrance is 100 feet. Tourists enter the main complex here through small gates next to the main entrance.
The main gate of Taj Mahal is made of red sand stone. This main gate is 30 meters high. Quranic verses are carved in Arabic script on this main gate. There is a small dome shaped mandap of Hindu style above this main gate and looks very grand.
Taj Mahal Entrance Gate, Agra
One of the main features of this gateway is that the lettering appears to be of uniform size from here. The carvers have carved it so skillfully that the large and tall letters create the illusion of being of one size. There are well laid out gardens of 300×300 meters in the form of four gardens which are spread on both sides of the walkway. There is a platform in the center from where tourists can take photographs of the Taj.
To the left of the platform of the Taj Mahal is the Taj Museum. Here in the original drawings one can see the detail of how the monument was planned architecturally. The architect had also predicted that it would take 22 years to complete the building. The drawings of the interior in this detail show the position of the tombs so that the part at the foot of the tombs is visible to the viewer from any angle.
A mosque made of red sandstone is on the left side of the Taj. It is a common practice in Islam that a mosque is built near the tomb, as this gives the area an ethic of purity and a place of worship. This mosque is still used for the prayer of Shukrane.
A very similar mosque is also built on the right side of the Taj and is called Jawab. Prayers are not offered here as it faces west ie opposite to Mecca, which is the holy religious city of Muslims. It was built to maintain symmetry.
How to Reach
The fastest way of reaching Taj Mahal (Agra) is by air. Indian Airlines runs daily flights from the capital of the country Delhi to Agra, the city of Taj Mahal. Kheria Airport is the local airport of Agra, which is around 6 km from Agra City Centre.
The main railway station is Agra Cantonment. The main trains running from Delhi to Agra are the Shatabdi Express, Rajdhani, Taj Express, etc.
By road Agra is around 203 km from Delhi. Both normal as well as AC buses run from Delhi which add to the comfort of this journey during summer.
- Taj Mahal opens 30 Minutes before sunrise and closes 30 Minutes before sunset during normal operating days
- Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays for general viewing. Other days it is always open.
- There are separate queues for Foreign tourists and Domestic tourists to enter to Taj and signs will direct you accordingly.
- Night viewing of Taj Mahal is available on five days in a month i.e. on full moon night and two nights before and two after the full moon.
- For more details about Visiting Hours, Ticket Outlets and Entry Gate details please visit Official Website.
Taj Mahal Ticket Rates
- Domestic/Indian/OCI Cardholder : ₹50
- Foreign tourist : ₹1100
- Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries: ₹540
Taj Mahal Ticket Outlets
- Taj Mahal Western Gate : Tickets are available on Western Gate near Saheli Burj. (Timing-One Hour before Sunrise upto 45 Minutes before Sunset).
- Taj Mahal Eastern Gate : Tickets are available at Eastern Gate of Taj Mahal. (Timing-One Hour before Sunrise upto 45 Minutes before Sunset).
- Taj Mahal Southern Gate : No Entry from this gate at Present only Exit is allowed.
Taj Mahal Tickets - Online
- Tourists buying tickets online will get discount of Rs.5/- for per Indian ticket & Rs. 50/- for per Foreigner ticket.
- No Entry fee for children below the age of 15 years. (both Domestic and Foreigner).
- ₹200 Additional for visiting main mausoleum (Optional)