The beauty of Taj Mahal can be known only by the person who has seen it with his own eyes. There are not enough words to sing the praise of this beautiful monument. Poets have written about it in books and movies; historians have said that the beauty of Taj Mahal has never been surpassed; and it is also among the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal is the single most visited monument in India and a photograph with Taj Mahal in the background is an absolute must for all tourists. Together with Jaipur and Delhi, it forms a part of the Golden Triangle, topmost on any India itinerary.
Taj Mahal is made entirely of white marble, its carvings decorated with precious and semi-precious stones and each part of the monument is perfectly symmetrical. The beauty of Taj Mahal increases multi-fold as the sun’s rays touch the monument at dawn and sunset and also by the moonlight. Taj Mahal has been described as "A tear drop on the cheek of time" by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who is entombed here alongside Shah Jahan (who was buried later). Taj Mahal literally means Crown Palace, although the name was derived from the name of Mumtaz Mahal. With the Yamuna River flowing by, the emperor obviously chose a serene place to lie here in eternity.
Taj Mahal is decorated with exquisite inlay work and verses and passages from the holy book of Koran have been calligraphed. A fusion of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic styles can be found in the architecture of Taj Mahal. Interlocking arabesque concept was used in the architecture. In this concept, each element maintains its own identity while perfectly merging with the main structure. The principle of self-replicating geometry, with symmetry of architectural elements is also seen in the design and layout of Taj Mahal.
The onion shaped marble dome of the monument is of the same size as the base of the building, standing at a height of nearly 35 meters. Its top is decorated with a lotus pattern and its shape is also accentuated by four small kiosks, one at each corner. Occupying over 47 acres of land, there are beautiful symmetrical gardens laid out to complement the beauty of the monument. The decorations scattered around the entire complex demonstrate a fine amalgamation of Hindu and Persian styles.
One side is open to the river while crenellated red sandstone walls bound the complex on the other three sides. The entrance gateway is also a majestic structure. The materials used to build Taj Mahal were brought from all over India and other countries e.g. the marble was from Rajasthan, jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Sri Lanka and sapphire from Afghanistan. Even the sculptors, inlayers, calligraphers, stonecutters and labourers were from all over; each specializing in his craft.
Taj Mahal is open through out the year, though the cooler months from October to March are recommended for visitors from abroad. Polluting traffic is not permitted in its vicinity as Taj Mahal is threatened by environmental pollution. Tourists must either board an electric bus or walk from the car park. Due to security reasons, visitors are allowed to carry only five items with them inside the Taj Mahal - water in a transparent bottle, small video camera, still camera, switched off mobile phone and small ladies purse.
Taj Mahal forms a part of all recommended tourist itineraries to India. The Taj Mahal is located in Agra. There are several other attractions in the city of Agra These are the Agra Fort, Sheesh Mahal, Musamman Burj, Diwan-I-Khas, Jehangir's Palace, the mausoleum of Itmad-ud-daulah and the numerous bazaars of Agra. Ram Bagh, made by the first Mughal ruler Babar is the most visited garden of Agra. Fathepur Sikri, just a short distance away is also a must visit for it splendid architecture and historical legends.
Agra is 220 km from Delhi and is accessible by air, rail and road. An overnight stay at one of Agra’s hotels is highly recommended to fully experience the grandeur of Taj Mahal in moonlight.