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Taj Mahal, Agra, India - Travel Guide

Mughals are known for their fascination for architecture, and the most fascinating architectures in India belong to the 15th to 16th centuries of Mughal period, the period where Taj Mahal was built. Taj Mahal or ‘’crown of palaces’’ is a white massive marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife. Highly regarded as "the jewel of Muslim art in India,’’ Taj Mahal represents the world’s most-admired structure. 

Located in the Agra City, Taj Mahal is responsible for making the city the most famous in India. The palace combines the architectural beauty of Persian, Islamic, Turkish, Ottoman and Indian styles, making Taj Mahal the finest work of the Mughal architecture. The tomb and its setting were based on the gardens of the palace of the great nobles. A perfect contrast to an urban setting, the grandeur of Taj Mahal puts India to the map.

The tomb is what Taj Mahal is all about. This central focus is made of white large marbles that stand on a square, elevated platform. Its basic elements show Persian influences comprising of a symmetrical structure with an arch-shaped doorway (iwan) and dominated by a large dome topped by a finial. The marble dome that rules all the elements is unarguably the most spectacular feature of Taj Mahal. The dome is often called “the onion dome’’ courtesy of its shape. The top of the dome is decorated with lotus that adds height to its already intimidating stature, and a bronze finial for that traditional Persian and Hindustani touch. With a height of 35 meters, the dome can be seen from all points of the city, accentuating the beauty of Agra’s cityscape.

The minarets of Taj Majal reflect traditional mosque elements and were used to invite the faithful for prayer and worship. Apart from that primary purpose, the minarets are there for aesthetic purposes—the designer’s fondness for symmetry. The minarets were placed slightly outside the tomb’s platform for a reason: in the event of a collapse, the materials of the tower will not go to the direction of the tomb, saving Taj Mahal’s most-priced possession.

The amazing work of Mughal architecture cannot be denied just by looking at Taj Mahal’s exterior. The decorative elements composed of carvings, stone inlays and stucco. In respect to Quran, passages from the sacred book, as chosen by Amanat Khan, are carved in the exterior of the palace and serve as decorative elements and a reminder of “the judgement.” The Muslim tradition prohibits elaborate designing of graves that is why the body of Mumtaz Mahal at the underground level was placed in plain crypt facing towards the Mecca. The garden, on the other hand, spans of 300-metre square of Mughal complex, where an avenue of trees and fountains give life to the open space. 

The labor force used in constructing Taj Mahal composed of almost 1,000 elephants used for transporting building materials, 20,000 workers, Bukhara’s sculptors, Syria and Persia’s calligraphers, southern India’s in-layers, and Baluchistan’s stonecutters, and their combined efforts erected Taj Mahal to its glorious beauty. With the palace’s grandiose and exceptional beauty, Taj Mahal attracts thousands to millions of tourists around the world year after year.

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