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What is the Taj Mahal

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One of the most famous buildings in the world is the Taj Mahal. It is in India and tourists who visit this wonderful country do not leave without having visited it. Of course, if you don’t know his name, you’ve seen him a thousand times on television, in magazines or on the Internet.

But what is the Taj Mahal actually? Is it a palace, a monument, a tomb, a government building…?

The Taj Mahal

Actually the Taj Mahal it’s a mausoleuma huge and majestic tomb that was built in the 17th century to rest one of Emperor Sha Jahan’s wives. The building is on the banks of the Yamuna River, in the city of Angra.

The complex has a 17 ha in which there is a mosque, a guest house, gardens, a medieval wall and the tomb itself. Construction began in 1632 and by 1643 it was virtually complete, although work continued for another decade. If we do some quick calculations, the cost of construction today must be around a billion dollars.

how much history Emperor Shah Jahan wanted to honor the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth of his fourteenth son. It was the year 1631 and work began the following year, in the midst of the pain of the sovereign. This king was the third son of Emperor Jahangir and Princess Manmati and proclaimed himself emperor in 1628. He had a thirst for power and was very active politically, adding territories, but he was also passionate about architecture.

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When he designates Angra as the capital of his empire, he decides to build two large mosques, in addition to the Taj Mahal, although the latter is up to his desires. The Taj Mahal is truly superb and as we know it was built to honor the memory of the most beloved of its three queens, Mumtaz Mahal.

But how is the taj mahal? It seems that the architects were inspired by earlier constructions, such as the tomb of Timor, the creator of the Mughal dynasty, and other royal tombs. But these tombs were made of red limestone, whereas Sha Jahan has chosen to carry out his work with white marble and semi-precious stones.

The tomb is at the very heart of the complex: it is a white marble structure that rests on a square plinth and has a huge dome, still following the classic Islamic design. There are many rooms and in one of them is the tomb, the cenotaph where today rests the wife but also the emperor who died barely a decade after his beloved. The gardens have fountains, brick and marble paths, many flowerbeds, rosebushes, fruit trees…

The dome of the building, the most striking from near and far, is 35 meters high, which adds majesty. If we add to this that the whole complex is beautifully decorated, we understand why the Taj Mahal continues to amaze its visitors. Have precious exterior decoration, with elements of calligraphy, abstract designs and plant motifs also, all with different techniques, from sculptures, paintings, reliefs or inlaid stones.

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Everywhere there are passages from the Quran used decoratively. There are letters embedded in gold, jasper or black marble, some very detailed, others smoother and barely readable. There is even a calligraphy drawn in proportion so that it can be read from below, from people’s height. Abstract patterns are everywhere too, but also on the floors and on the walkways, with colorful mosaics.

The gems appear inside the building, in the central hall and where the cenotaphs of the sovereign and his wife are located. The room is octagonal in shape and has many entrances. The interior walls are 25 meters high and above them rises a false dome decorated with solar motifs. At ground level there are eight arches and some have balconies. The windows also have a white marble screen.

The cenotaph of the emperor’s wife is in the center of the room: on a rectangular marble base there is also a marble urn. There are gems everywhere. Next to it is Sha Jahan’s cenotaph, which is larger and was added after the emperor’s death ten years later.

But the Taj Mahal is not only marvelous for the building itself, but also for the exterior design, for its gardens and major hydraulic works required to water them. There are earthen pipes, copper pipes, canals, fountains, distribution tanks… Not everything is preserved, but what remains shows how wonderful it was.

The passing of the centuries has certainly marked the monument, even if it has come fairly well to our time. At the beginning of the 20th century, many restoration works were carried out.. The British stood still. More recently, the marble facade has been damaged by air pollution, due to toxic emissions from nearby factories and car engines.

As a result, a protective space was decided around the monument, prohibiting manufacturing activity and vehicle traffic. Later, in 1998, restoration works were redone.

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Let’s go back a bit to the story, in 1657 Shah Jahan fell ill then began a cruel battle between his four sons for his inheritance and the throne. The winner was Aurangzeb and in the end he put his father in the Red Fort until his death.

Practical information about the Taj Mahal

  • The Taj Mahal opens half an hour before sunset and closes half an hour before sunset. Tickets are sold at all gates entering the complex.
  • The ticket price for foreigners is 1100/200 rupees. Those who buy the ticket online get a discount of 5 rupees.
  • Children under 15 are not allowed to enter.
  • An additional 200 rupees is charged if you wish to visit the mausoleum.
  • There are night tours five days a month. For example, when there is one full and two nights before and two nights after. Tickets for this tour are available one day before the event, in Agra. The hours of the night tour are from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., in eight groups of 50 people. The visit lasts half an hour. The ticket costs 750 rupees per foreign adult.
  • Cell phones should be turned off or on silent. Smoking and photography are prohibited in the main mausoleum.
  • You can get to Angra by plane or by train. From the city to the Taj Mahal, you can take a taxi, rickshaw or radio taxi.

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