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Taj Mahal

Listed under Monuments & Landmarks in Agra, India.

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  • Photo of Taj Mahal
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Photo of Taj Mahal
Photo by David Lee
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Taj Mahal tour is not only about the seeing the mausoleum in white marble, but also its surroundings, especially the Taj Garden - Charbagh. In Islamic style of architecture, the garden is not just another feature but has a well-defined meaning and it symbolizes the spirituality. According to the Holy Koran, a garden is symbolic of paradise. The Taj Garden covers most parts of the Taj. Out of a total area of 580 m by 300 m, the Taj Garden alone covers 300 m by 300 m. The guiding principle in creating this garden is one of the symmetry and it can be experienced everywhere. The four regions of the garden within the Charbagh are divided into 16 flowerbeds, making a total of 64. It is said that each flowerbed was planted with 400 plants. Trees were planted carefully in accordance with the symmetry of the overall plan. The trees, which were generally preferred, were either cypress (Cuprussus) (signifying death) or different fruit bearing trees (signifying life). These trees were home to many birds, which migrated from distant places to enhance the liveliness of the Taj Mahal.

For centuries, the Taj Mahal has inspired poets, painters and musicians to try and capture its elusive magic in word, colour and song. Since the 17th century, travelers have crossed continents to come and see this ultimate memorial to love. It does not matter how many photos you see or how many shows you watch, you must see this in person to truly appreciate it. It is the ultimate in ethereal beauty. It was built in the memory of the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum, who won the heart of a Mughal prince. She was married at 21 to Emperor Jahangir's third son Prince Khurram and stayed loyally by his side through good times and bad: in the luxurious royal palaces of Agra as well as the transient tents of war camps.

In AD 1628, Khurram became king after a bloody battle of succession; he took the name Shahjahan or King of the World and showered his beloved begum with the highest titles. She became Mumtaz Mahal, the Exalted of the Palace and Mumtaz-ul-Zamani, the Exalted of the Age. But Mumtaz Mahal was not destined to be queen for long. In 1631, Shahjahan went on an expedition to the South and, as always, Mumtaz Mahal accompanied him. But she died in childbirth at Burhanpur. She had borne Shahjahan fourteen children, of whom four sons and three daughters survived. When Mumtaz Mahal died, she was just 39 years old. Shahjahan was inconsolable and contemporary chronicles tell of the royal court mourning for two years. There was no music, no feasting, and no celebration of any kind.

Shahjahan, who was a passionate builder, now decided to erect a memorial marble that the world would never forget. The site selected for the tomb was a garden by the Yamuna river, unshadowed by any other structure. The garden had been laid by Raja Man Singh of Amber and now belonged to his grandson, Raja Jai Singh. By a royal decree, Shahjahan gave Jai Singh four havelis in exchange for the garden. The site was also chosen because it was located on a bend in the river, and so could be seen from Shahjahan's personal palace in Agra Fort, further upstream.

Work on the mausoleum began in 1633 and 20,000 workers laboured for 17 years to build it. The most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons came from all across India and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. The master mason was from Baghdad, an expert in building the double dome from Persia, and an inlay specialist from Delhi. The tomb was completed in AD 1650. It was said that the most skilled at working on the Taj Mahal has a hand cut off after it was finished so they could never duplicate this work again.

Shahjahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb in 1658 and imprisoned in the Agra Fort. He spent his last years in the Mussalman Burj looking downstream at the Taj where his beloved Mumtaz Mahal lay. Sixteen years later he, too, was laid to rest beside her. Although the real tombs are below where you stand on the main floor there are duplicates made that you can look at. Each intricately carved and surrounded by a screen of fine cut marble inlaid with semi precious stones. When first built that screen was solid gold but Shahjahan was afraid that it might get stolen so had the other one built. It took eleven years to build that screen.

Shahjahan's two biggest passions were architecture and jewellery and both are reflected in the Taj Mahal. He visualized a building in marble and then had it decorated with semi-precious stones inlaid with the delicacy of handcrafted jewellery. Marble in purest white was brought from Makrana in Rajasthan, yellow marble and rockspar from the banks of the Narmada river, black marble from Charkoh and red sandstone from Sikri. For the intricate pietra dura the finest gems were collected - crystal and jade from China, lapis lazuli and sapphires from Sri Lanka, jasper from Punja, carnelian from Baghdad and turquoise from Tibet. Yemen sent agates, the corals came from Arabia, the garnets from Bundelkhand, onyx and amethyst from Persia. Mumtaz Mahal's final resting-place was ornamented like a queen's jewel-box. . As was the tradition during Mughal times, the actual graves lie in an underground crypt directly below the cenotaphs.

The imposing gateway is made of red sandstone highlighted with marble and has octagonal kiosks on top. The gateway is an imposing 30 metres high and a fitting entrance to the Taj Mahal. The soaring arch is inscribed with a beautiful design of inlaid flowers and calligraphy. As you enter the dark octagonal chamber under the gateway, the light streaming in from the opposite doorway draws you towards it. Here, framed by the arch of the doorway, the Taj Mahal reveals itself to the viewer with dramatic power. It stands at the end of a long walkway, framed by landscaped gardens and an ever-changing sky, its snowy marble glittering in the sunlight.

What is most amazing about the Taj Mahal is the fine detailing. The coloured inlay is never allowed to overwhelm the design, as carvings done in relief sensitively balance it. The ornate pietra dura and relief carvings are of floral, calligraphic and geometric designs. However, flowers remain the main decorative element as the tomb depicts a paradise garden. The skill of the inlay worker is so fine that it is impossible to find the joints, even when as many as 40 tiny pieces of semi-precious stones have been used in the petals of a single flower. Some of the best calligraphy of Koranic verses can be seen around the entrance arches and on the two headstones.

Written by  Donna Dawson.

Other expert and press reviews

“Taj Mahal”

Of Mughal architectural design, the Taj Mahal is a true wonder of the world. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate his second wife and inseparable companion, Arjumand Banu Begum, (Mumtaz Mahal – ‘Chosen of the Palace), who died in… Read more...

Written by  George Monkhouse.

“Excerpt from 'The Taj Mahal Is a Glorious Survivor"”

By Amy Walden for The New York Times First published May 16, 2004 The most famous narrative of the Taj Mahal, India's transcendent tourist attraction, is the love story that prompted its construction: the death of queen Mumtaz during the birth of her 1… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The New York Times

“'India: Triumph of the Taj'”

By Stanley Stewart for The Telegraph First published November 1, 2002 The great thing about the Taj Mahal is its romantic impracticality. For two decades the resources of a vast empire were harnessed not for the construction of palaces or forts, irriga… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The Telegraph

“Excerpt from 'The Taj Mahal: Well meet by moonlight'”

By David Orr for The Telegraph First published December 20, 2004 If any of the world's great monuments deserves a moonlit serenade, the Taj Mahal does. Built by an Indian emperor in the 17th century as a memorial to his late wife, the Taj evokes a swoo… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The Telegraph

“Excerpt from 'Taj Mahal: A weekend of wonder'”

By Simon Horsford for The Telegraph First published December 18, 2007 ...There is always a nagging doubt that reputation might not match the reality. No such worries here. The Taj Mahal is strikingly, heart-tuggingly beautiful. Earlier this year, it wa… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The Telegraph

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

How long a flight is it to the Taj Mahal from New Delhi? How long a drive? How long a train trip?

The Taj Mahal could use all our help to protect it - we are working on shutting down the diesel generation in the city and would appreciate all the support you can provide - with everyone's support we can protect this most amazing World Wonder - Thank You




The Taj Mahal is indeed a magnificent building, but is not a mausoleum rather a grand shiva temple looted by shah jahan and made it a mausoleum. This was never built by shahjahan. shahjahan was one of the corrupt king and a womanizer.

Photo Favorite: A Different View of the Taj Mahal

Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra was one of many highlights from my time in India. Waking up at the crack of dawn to get in early, I took the requisite photos from the head-on perspective, however this random shot from a corner angle immediately became my favorite from the day.

Already familiar with the architecture before setting foot in Agra, I was surprised to find the building completely covered in precious stone inlays. Inside the building, where it’s darker, you can even hold a light up to them and certain types of stone will glow.

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Taj - mesmerising

I have only managed to visit Taj once.... I am planning within my travel to India next to do a more detailed tour of the Taj.......behind its wall lays the foundations of a beautiful story...with the intricate designing and detailing. Well worth going to see and taking in the beauty of the splendour of the great white Taj......speaks history again and again...... best to read up and learn about it before travelling so when you are there you can see points you have learnt.

When did Shah Jahan's wife actually pass away & how soon after did they start building the Tajmahal?

1 Reply

She died in 1631 and building commenced in 1632 - does anyone have any closer dates?

whether taj mahal will be open for tourist on aug 15 th 2010 ?

Awesome to see

I'll start with the hates, went in December, hated the fact that the tourists were charged exorbitant amount and the locals a pittance, and yet we had to still queue in a huge, huge line.

Other than that ,the beauty of the Taj is unimaginable, it is too stunning for words. Was a wonderful experience.

Magic place

Definetly the most impressing place I have ever been!!!

An experience out of this world.

I visited for one day in 2001, and though it was extremely hot, it was an experience out of this world. Taj Mahal tuly is no.1 wonder of this world. I'm planning to go back some time, don't know when. I've written a poem to express my feelings, unfortunately in norwegian only, but I'll attach it anyway.

Taj Mahal

majestetisk silhuett

mot aftenrøden

hvit marmor

får et gyllent strøk

dine kupler troner

i fullkommen symmetri

løfter blikket mitt

mot himmelen

jeg dekker hodet

bøyer kne

barføtt trår jeg

dine trinn

solstekte steinflater

brenner fotsålene

men skjuler

svalende saler

- guddommelig nektar

i hver svettedråpe

3 Replies

Can you translate it for us so we can see the meaning?

An english version, yet not poetry like in norwegian, anyway I hope you get the meaning.


Taj Mahal

majestic silhouette

rising towards the evening red

white marble

get a golden stroke

your domes throning

perfectly symmetrical

lifting my glance towards the sky

I'm covering my head


barefeet walking your steps

sunroasted stone

burning footprints

yet hiding cooling halls

- nectar divine

in every drop of sweat

Thanks for that. Even though you say it doesn't sound as lovely in English the meaning is still lovely.

I didnt know how one full day was passed there!

I already had a great impression about Taj Mahal.. but upon arrival there for a whole day trip.. I enjoyed the amazing beauties and romantic nature there... Shafi


My visit to the Taj Mahal was absolutely magic! It's an experience not to be missed, it really takes you straight to the heart and no words can explain your India experience it is magical.......

East of Agra 60 kms from Taj Agra is a peaceful temple complex of 108 temples of Siva called "BATESWAR". GO and enjoy. Not many tourists.


Is Taj Mahal Open for tourists on Sunday. What is the train Schedule form Delhi to Agra on 16th Janu

Reaching Delhi on 16th January 2010. Need train Schedule from delhi to Agra. Also Plane schedules from Agra to JAIPUR.

2 Replies

The Taj Mahal is open between 6am and 7pm every day except Friday when it's closed for prayers.

For train times check out this site, click on "Trains between important stations" and enter "Agra Cannt" and "New Delhi".

Taj Mahal my love and dream...

I am amaze, cant say a word and in tears. I lost for the few seconds when I first saw The Taj Mahal. My dream come true! Its owesome and amazingly beautiful! I will always come back there whenever I visit India. So wait for me Taj Mahal.....

Go and enjoy this beautiful house!

What an amazing sight,it leaves one speechless. My husband and I went to Agra in 2007 and went back there again in 2008,this time accompanied by our 14yr old daughter.This is one of the must see,must do things before you die.I loved traveling to India.We live in a beautiful country (South Africa )but I saw and experienced a different and special attitude there towards life,that I find absent in our country.

i would love to visit india in april-may time and would love any tips/opinions for a journey! any info wuold be really appreciated!

3 Replies

Hi Chloe,

I just added a Holiday Idea about a trip down the Ganges that you might be interested in. It could be combined with stays in Delhi and Agra? On the Holiday Ideas page use the search box and select India and it should come up first.

this may help

grand tour


Great Taj

I was there 3 times in the 80's. Great place.

Best in the mornings. First one in. Still peaceful.

Amazing mughal architecture and craftsmen ship.

Quiet 'touristy'. An Indian 'honey-moon' - place.

how old is the building

i wish to knw the year of construction

1 Reply

It took 20 years to build - between 1632 and 1653.

regarding Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan built it for his wife for the love

he had for her & never asked anything for return, now thats real, real love comparing now these days............

I took some pictures of you who took pictures of the Taj:

1 Reply

Ha ha, I really like that. Nice photos.

i have spent two beautiful days in agra (visited fatehpur sikri also) and i will never forgwet them. it was the x-mas day 2008, over a month after my indian wedding, the weather wasnt too hot. taj will take your breath away. it is a love gift and everybody will love it in return.

« Una lacrima di marmo ferma sulla guancia del tempo »

(Rabindranath Tagore)

I was privileged to be able to visit the Taj in Nov. of 2004 while on a short term Mission trip to India. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen!

I arrived tired and really in no mood to see anything especially, expecting to be disappointed seeing as it's rated so highly, but as I turned to see it, it was breathtaking, stunning, I have never seen anything man-made with such dignified beauty, it sent me thoughtless and my tiredness slipt away...

No doubt... one of the most mystical place on EARTH....

I was at the Taj Mahal during my college tour in september 07..Amazing Architecture,The Pure n the peace it brings is enormous..Love is surely in air at the Taj..A must must visit..Wish i would visit it again!!!Cheers..

2 Replies

I wish I could visit again too, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I proposed to my wife there...

i wish my boyfriend was so romantic!

I visited the Taj Mahal with my two daughters Stephanie and Sarah in Dec 2006. My daughter Sarah was in a wedding in Mumbai and my other daughther Stephanie and I got to tag along; It was surreal. After hearing about it for years from my husband Bob and seeing the documentary on the Taj it was as totaly amazing as I thought it would be; what a love story. Truly words cannot describe the beauty and the magnificence of the structure and the care of the monument to preserve this one of the original seven wonders of the world. At the same time what a contrast outside the gated area to see the poverty and filth that others have to experience who are not as priviledge. Other then that it was an experience one can not ever forget and the words can not describe. It is something you and you only can and should experience as part of your bucket list. I saw a poster with the Taj and although I don't remember the words exactly but the sentiments are so appropriate "and to think some men give chocolate"

1 Reply

It's so perfectly romantic isn't it. I love the bit about him ending up in prison but still being able to see the Taj from his prison... So beautiful and true. Someone should make a film.

The Taj Mahal lived up to everything I had ever heard about . . . and then surpassed it. It was beautiful at sunset from the back on the other side of the river. And, on the next day, it was beautiful at dawn from the front when we came in the official entrance. What made it even more exquisite was the detailed inlay work in all the marble when I got up close. The grounds are lush and the parakeets flying around just add to the perfect scene. I will always feel very lucky to have been there in person.

1 Reply

I hope to go next year, you're really whetting my appetite...


It was my second time in India, July 2009,and i was not leaving again without seeing the infamous Taj Mahal. It was nearly a five hour drive from New Delhi, a very early start and bumpy all the way, but i have no regrets. I first viewed the monument from one side.

The symmetry was so obvious and remarkable. It was a scorching hot day in the mid 40's, and after an hour standing in the burning hot sun, finally saw the tombs of the famous Emperor and his wife. I had been told the story repetetively, that the emperor had the Taj built in memory of his beloved wife. That it took 22 years to build. That the hands of the architect had been chopped off so that there could only be one Taj Mahal. The building was breathtakingly beautiful and elegant. A sight never to be forgotten.

1 Reply

There are so many romantic stories about this building! I can't wait to see it.

Taj Mahal-India

I was so excited when i saw the Great Taj for the first time, in 2006. its really a wonder of the world, i couldn't believe that it was built over 350 year ago. how did they do that? without machines, no vehicles, no electricity.

There is a saying about the taj, that whoever see the Taj for the first time he/she will definetlly get a second chance to see it.

So guys must go and see the world's biggest and preeminent architecture build over 350 year ago.


My husband and I visited the Taj Mahal in May 2005. There are just no words to describe the beauty of the Taj. The light against the marble creates a translucence that is hard to describe. The inlaid floral designs, the carved marble screens, the gardens, the red sandstone mosque and matching building on the opposite side are all just breathtaking to see. We stayed throughout the day & then watched the sunset from the other side of the river. Just simply wonderful.

No other structure could silence a bus full of teens. . .

I saw the Taj for the first time, and I pray not the last, in 1985. I was a 16-year old Rotary youth exchange student traveling with other exchange students. We took a bus from our hotel to Agra, and I have a flash memory of that first glimpse of the Taj in the distance. Every voice on the bus became instantaneously silent, as there, still miles away, rose the Taj Mahal. Who hadn't seen a million photos of it? What was it that, even from miles away, inspired such awe? I'm not sure, but the best way I can express it is that the Taj Mahal itself has a soul. It is impossible to describe the wonder and peace one experiences while staring, not caring that you look like a gormless prat with your mouth wide open, straight up into the air at the amazing mosaics that cover its walls, and the megalithic pillars that flank it. This is no tourist trap. This is the real thing, a genuine wonder. So if you ever have the opportunity and wonder if it's worth the effort, don't think twice -- you will never regret it, and never forget it.

1 Reply

Ha ha! Thats a funny story!

Despite all the hype, this place just completely lives up tp its reputation, and even surpasses it. I don't know what it is, but the building is so perfect it inspires awe and peace - maybe it is the translucence of the building materials, maybe it is the perfect symmetry, but it just works! Love it. Myself, I never realised it was on the bans of a river, and that just added to the beauty of the location. Best views - definitely from the Red Fort. Sad to think that the Mughal was imprisoned in the Fort and could only gaze on his creation from afar every day!

I visited the Taj Mahal in 1997 and eversince I hope I'll be able to go back. I think there are no words strong enough to express the beauty of this building. It's simply breathtaking. No photograph of it, even the most beautifull, can reproduce the beauty of this white marble building. I think everyone who has been there will agree that the Taj Mahal is absolutely a "must see".

Taj In 1989

It was my first visit to india and i still remember it to this day if ever anyone goes to the taj there was a small leak in the dome and rain would come through and we were told then that they have tried for some time to find where the water was coming from and they never could find where it was coming from.

I also remember just sitting there with not a worry in the world and how happy i was.

For me it was tranquil and peaceful and a wonder of the world that i would love to visit again one day and all should visit once in their life time

I also remember my guide taking me to a place at some distance from the taj and i looking in a small piece of mirror which was stuck on the wall and in the reflection i could see the whole of the taj in the background

1 Reply

Nice review, thanks!

Dreams come true

It's simply great awesome i would like to visit it once again its like so great when i show it first time simply great work !!!!!!!!!!! i would suggests people to visit it before they die.

1 Reply

I agree, I think everybody should see it before they die!

The most beautiful building I have ever seen.

I have travelled a lot, from North to South America, through Europe, and in China and India. Nothing has ever had the same impression on me as the Taj Mahal. When I see a picture, tears still spring to my eyes, and I can feel the warm breeze that blew around it, and a sudden happiness invades me. There is just nothing like the Taj Mahal.



I lost the few seconds of my life when I first saw The Taj Mahal. I was dealing with my innerself and was totally lost. Its amazingly beautiful!

A great day in Agra!!

I was so fascinated and enchanted by the beauty and story of Taj Mahal.His very preciuos love to His wife...the moment my tour guide explained about the story,I was so touch and feeling like staying there and staring it with out blinking!!I could never imagine how those people work to build that wonderful and lovely"TAJ MAHAL"!

Taj Mahal

An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

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