The Taj Mahal, the wonder of a garden tomb
The Taj Mahal is simplistic terms is a garden tomb created to represent one of the Islamic Houses of paradise in the form of the Islamic garden of paradise. It was completed in 1653, having employed some 20,000 workers for almost 22 years. It used 500 kilos of gold and cost some 41 million rupees to construct.
The Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Hahal, his favourite wife (of three wives) who died in childbirth. Its exquisite craftsmanship, and perfect proportions are truly awesome and has to be seen to be believed.
The Taj Mahal is built in white marble with many inlaid stones depicting flowers in the forms of patterns, single flowers such as the poppy, lily, iris, tulips. The craftsmanship is truly incredible using as many as 35 variations of cameo in a single flower. There is also carved relief work in the form of floral plants, flowers, leaves.
The verses from the Koran written on the Taj Mahal in in the form of black marble inlaid in to the white marble, hence no ageing.
Shah Jahan the Mughal Emperor started building his own garden tomb, in the form of of a black Taj Mahal, directly opposite the white marble Taj Mahal on the opposite bank of the River Yumuna. White for his beloved wife and black for himself representing all his failings. The foundations were completed for the black Taj Mahal but his son arrested his father and kept him locked in his rooms in Agra Fort (or palace) until his death so he could not squander the empire's fortune on another mammoth project. Shah Jahan was able to look out of his rooms in Agra Fort and see the Taj Mahal where his beloved lay. On his death he was buried next to his beloved wife Mumtaz Hahal by his son.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is at dawn. The gates open half an hour before sunrise. The white marble absorbs the suns rays going from pink to yellow and then white. In the evening you will only see white and then the yellow as the sun drops down below the skyline.
Employing a Taj Mahal Guide - You will be inundated by people when you step out of your vehicle offering you all kinds of things - some of which will offer to guide you round the Taj Mahal. Our advice is to take a guide, ours was excellent and we certainly learnt a lot from him, that we would not otherwise have known (even from our guide book). Make sure he is a government approved Tourist Guide, he will produce a card saying this with a rate on it (675 Rupees in January 2009), with various government stamps on the back. Click here to list to why our guides believes you should a guide to the Taj Mahal.
Sample audio clip of what our Guide told us about the Taj Mahal.