Exclusive Taj Mahal Tour Packages to witness memorial of love
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Rudyard Kipling was right, when he said: the Taj Mahal would lie on the far side of each description. Every visitor, who comes to Agra, has seen the mausoleum probably already innumerable times in photos, posters or on television, but eventually no one can elude itself from its unique charisma, when he steps through the entrance gate.
The Taj Mahal is not only the most visited mausoleum of India, but also one of the most impressive monuments on earth. “Monument of immortal love” was built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife Arjumand Bano Begum (also known as Mumtaj Mahal), after she died at 38 during the birth of her 14th child. Altogether 20,000 workers toiled 20 years in order to complete one of the World’s Seven Wonders in 1653.
Shahjahan chose spot along the Yamuna River where he met his wife at the young age of 14. He called it “love at first sight” and was compelled to purchase the land from the King of Jaipur, Raja Man Singh. Shahjahan invited architects from France, Italy and the Far East to work together and create this magnificent architecture. While never documented, it was assumed the master builder was Ustad Ahmad from Lahore.
The enormous costs of the construction allowed Shahjahan’s power-hungry son Aurangzeb to legitimize the downfall of his father. During his fifty-year reign, Aurangzeb led a fanatical expedition against Hindu sanctuaries and kept his father Shahjahan imprisoned in the red fort of Agra, where he spent the last eight years of his life with the view of the Taj Mahal.
Originally the same building, but in black marble, was to be built on the other side of the river as Shahjahan’s mausoleum. However it was never completed as he sat in the Red Fort under house arrest by his son until he died. Architects recently uncovered the foundations of the black Taj Mahal proving that Shahjahan did start construction on it.
The Taj Mahal is made from materials brought from across India and as far away as Asia. The marble was brought from Makrana, about 100 miles from Agra near the city of Jaipur. Over 1,000 elephants and 3,000 camel carts were requisitioned for the transport of the building materials. Twenty-eight different types of precious stones and semiprecious stones such as mother of pearl, malachite, lapislazuli, jasper, turquoise were inlayed in the marble. The color scheme, material, ornamentation, and proportions were based on the principle of perfect symmetry.
When you stand and look at the Taj Mahal you will see three huge gates located at the east, west and south directions. While these powerful entrance gates were used to protect the site, they were used mostly to separate the outside world from the spiritual world within the mausoleum. The calligraphy on the gates states the spiritual purpose of the entrance gates. Through the gates, visitors see the lush gardens that the Mughals, who came from the desert-like regions of Asia, considered the essence of paradise.
Today, the lush gardens still look like paradise to visitors who come from around the world to stand in awe at the majestic site. The Taj Mahal with its vibrant white marble appears to hover as visitors look through the dark interior of the entrance gate.
The marble platform placed in the middle of the reflection pond serves as a desired location for photography. Many famous guests including Heinrich Lübke, Lady Diana, Prince Charles and Hillary Clinton were photographed with the Taj Mahal in the background. Today Punjabis, Sikhs, Ladakhis, Rajasthanis, Kashmiris and Tamils are photographed in front of the dreamlike scenery.
Once you enter through the gates, you will see there are two identical buildings flanking the Taj Mahal with their red sandstone facades and marble domes. The building on the west is a mosque, which was used by Shahjahan for worship, when he spent most of his time in the compound. Every Friday the Taj Mahal is closed so Muslims can worship in the mosque which is aligned to the west towards Mecca, the holy place of Muslims. The second sandstone building on the east side of the Taj Mahal was built just to maintain the symmetry. The eastern building was built purely for aesthetic reasons. So the Taj Mahal would not lose its magic, both buildings were not built out of white marble but the red sandstone.
The Taj Mahal itself stands on a 60-foot-high marble platform, with a high minaret at each of the four corners. These minarets are slanted by two degrees, so they do not fall on the main mausoleum during any natural calamity such as an earthquake or flood. In addition, the slant of the minarets gives a unique harmony in the total composition of the Taj Mahal which has architectural resemblances to the grave of Humayun in Delhi built 100 years before the Taj Mahal.
The two sarcophaguses of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are in a vault beneath the central main room. The graves, similar to the original ones, were placed in the other room above the vault not only to mislead tomb raiders, but to allow citizens to worship the graves, while maintaining a distance between the citizens and ruler. The cenotaph of Mumtaz lies exactly in the center and the cenotaph of Shahjahan which is bigger, lies on the left side. Both are marble cenotaphs inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones.
Not only is it magical when you stand outside of the Taj Mahal, but also when you stand inside. The sun shines through the filigree-worked marble windows-creating a magical atmosphere that will be an once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t ever forget!