The Taj Mahal at Agra – an expression of love
The approach to one of the wonders of the world preserves the mystery until the last moment. Entry is via the Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza). You proceed through the queues and the security and shuffle into the relative darkness of the gate entry. Suddenly you look up and there before you is the most breathtaking sight of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj was commissioned in 1631 by Shah Jahan in loving memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child. It took 12 years to build and a further 5 years to finish the surrounding buildings and 42 acres of gardens.
The Taj Mahal is a huge marble mausoleum with perfect symmetry and location on the banks of the Yamuna River. We have all seen countless photos of the Taj Mahal but no photo succeeds in capturing the beauty and spirit of the final resting place of a Persian princess and later her husband. In addition to the size and grandeur of the building there is the incredible artwork and decoration. Nearly four hundred years later the artwork still looks fabulous because instead of being painted (and faded) it is entirely created with inlaid precious and semi precious stones.
The security at the entrance keenly checks for pocket knives and other implements that may be used to gouge out a souvenir semi-precious stone.
Buiding the Taj employed 20,000 workers and cost today’s equivalent of US$825 million. The craftsmen assembled for the stone inlay work would go on to influence a lot of art over the following century or more as the skills were passed from father to son.
When you visit India, it is truly worthwhile planning to see the Taj Mahal. Like any major attraction, you will be sharing it with a few thousand of your closest friends but you’ll be glad you did. Around 7-8 million people visit the Taj each year. We highly recommend that you take a tour visit rather than go on your own. Not only will a tour get you much faster admission, the trained and certified tour guide will enthral you with stories that will bring out the magic and romance of the sight.