January 12, 2016

The Taj Mahal – An Architectural Wonder

Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his cherished wife, the Taj Mahal has not only become an icon of India, but a wonder of the world. It is so well renowned, that no trip to India could possibly be complete without coming face to face with this architectural marvel.

Standing on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India, the famed mausoleum complex is one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an eternal symbol of his love for his favourite wife, whom he called Mumtaz Mahal, construction began in 1632 AD and was not fully completed until 1653 AD. In all, more than 20,000 workers from India, Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire, along with some 1,000 elephants, were brought in to build the mausoleum complex. Legend has it that Shah Jahan cut off the hands of the architect (Persian-born Ustad Ahmad Lahori) and his labourers to ensure that they would never build another of its kind, but there is little to substantiate this sensational story.

At the completion of this monument, its central dome reached a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and was surrounded by four smaller domes; four slender towers, or minarets, stood at the corners. In accordance with Islamic tradition, verses from the Quran were inscribed in calligraphy on the arched entrances to the mausoleum. It’s not just the perfect symmetry, the ethereal luminescence, the wonderful proportions, or the sheer scale but the exquisite detailing covering every inch of marble that justifies it as a wonder of the world.

The Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal itself, built of shimmering white marble changes colour depending on the time of day and as a result, many recommend that you witness this by visiting it both in the morning and evening. Also consider participating in a tour or hiring the services of a well-spoken guide to gain a deeper understanding of the symbolism of the Taj, as well as what has been lost since Shah Jahan’s day such as the plunder of the pearl-encrusted silks that covered Mumtaz’s cenotaph.

As Agra is located in between the main train lines from Delhi to Mumbai and from Delhi to Chennai, the Taj Mahal is easy to reach by train from almost anywhere. From Delhi, you can reach Agra by train in about 2-3 hours. Agra is 204 km away from Delhi and is on the crossroads of national highways 2, 3 and 11. Ground transportation from Delhi to Agra takes approximately 3.5 – 4 hours. Taxies and busses are available from Delhi to Agra or you can drive there yourself by making use of the new modern highways. From Delhi you can take the NH2 highway (200 km), from Jaipur you can take number 11 (255km), from Gwailor the National highway which is 120 km and from Lucknow NH2 which is 285 km.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, the Taj Mahal remains one of the world’s most celebrated structures in the world and a stunning symbol of India’s rich history. Book in to see this icon through one of Travezl’s many spectacular tours by clicking here.

By Travezl Team

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