The Taj Mahal is the epitome of Mughal art and one of the most famous buildings in the world. Taj Mahal was built in 22 years (1631-1653) with the orders of Shah Jahan and it was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum), the wife of Shah.
20,000 workers labored and 32 crore rupees were spent during the construction of the monument and it was built according to Islamic architecture. In 1506, Sultan Sikandar Lodi moved the capital from Delhi to Agra.
His son Ibrahim Lodi also used Agra as the capital until he was defeated by the Persian King Babur. Babur was the founder of the Mughal Empire and he sent his son Humayun to capture the city.
Mughal Empire not only captured Agra, but also the largest diamond of that time, Koh-i-Noor. Under the dominion of Mughals, Agra lived its heydays between 1526 and 1658 and it was called Akbarabād.
In the 17th century, Cihangir (Jahangiri) made Akbarabād the hotspot of Muslim world. His son Sah Cihan (Shahjahan) ordered the Taj Mahal to be constructed in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The mausoleum was completed in 1653. After that, Shah Jahan moved the capital back to Delhi and this made Agra lose its importance.
The whole structure is more than 55 meters high built in white and yellow marble. The Taj Mahal is flanked by two smaller red stone buildings, one a mosque and the other a rest house.
Outside the walls surrounding the tomb, you’ll be beleaguered by many hawkers, but the Taj and the surrounding gardens is haggler free, so even with the huge crowds visiting the mausoleum, it is a relaxing place. Most people spend several hours around the Taj or in the gardens, which are well maintained.
The garden has a geometrical structure, and is believed to symbolize paradise. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections.
Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole. Taj Mahal of Agra is not just its phenomenal beauty, but the immense love which was the reason behind its construction.
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan got this monument constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, with whom he fell in love at the first sight. Ironically, the very first sight of the Taj Mahal, the epitome of love and romance, also leaves visitors mesmerized and perpetually enthralled.
Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest in Mughal architecture. As the surface area changes the decorations are refined proportionally.
The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays, or carvings. The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. The inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones.