The Taj Mahal is an iconic structure and a UNESCO World Heritage site in the city of Agra in India. Built between 1631 and 1654, the construction of the Taj Mahal was ordered by the ruling emperor Sha Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
The Empress had died in 1631 whilst giving birth to the couple’s fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum and her jade and jasper adorned coffin was placed in the centre of the Taj Mahal, although her body and that of her husband (buried there later) are actually contained several floors below.
The white marble structure of the Taj Mahal, with its central dome flanked by arches and smaller domes as well as minarets is famed for its incredible symmetry and opulent design. Inside, the Taj Mahal is lavishly decorated with plant life imagery and Koranic calligraphy, each aspect of which is entirely individual. In fact, it is believed that approximately 20,000 workers toiled to create the Taj Mahal.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal can enter the main mausoleum (although generally not the underground floors) and also enjoy its incredible gardens with their reflective lakes.
Nearby are several other beautiful buildings, including the Taj Mahal’s mosque and the Jilaukhana gated complex, all of which add to the overall symmetry of the site.
Some of the Taj Mahal’s original decoration has been looted over the centuries and the white colour structure is suffering from the effects of pollution, but overall this is a must-see site when visiting India.
The Taj Mahal is in the centre of Agra, approx 200km southeast of New Delhi. From New Delhi, you can take an hour’s flight to Kheria Airport or a train to Agra Cantt Station (Bhopal Shatabdi or Taj Express lines, 2-5 hrs). Taxis and rickshaws are available at the train station. The main road joining Dehli and Agra is the NH2 motorway (4-5hrs, can be more in traffic). Jaipur is also within 4 hrs of Agra (Highway 11 and train 2988). Note that cars are not allowed near the Taj Mahal, but electric Tongas operate frequently from Agra.
Taj Mahal is open daily except Fridays, 6am-7pm. Closed public holidays. Entry costs R 750 (entry charge R 250 plus R 500 levy).
Taj Mahal, Purani Mandi, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
+91 011 23711995
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