On the south bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India sits the most famous mausoleum in the world. Perhaps the greatest monument ever built for love and loss, the Taj Mahal, commissioned in 1632 is a mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a monument to his favorite wife who died after giving birth to their 14th child. While the tomb is the centerpiece of the site, the complex stretches out over almost 42 acres (17 hectare) and includes a mosque, a guest house, and immaculately maintained gardens.
The majority of the construction took place in 1643 but the complex saw continued work for more than ten years, and with more than 20,000 workmen and artisans, it is estimated that the entire site cost 32 million rupees. Since it was constructed well before the creation of modern machinery, the heavy lifting and moving of materials was done by elephant power.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Taj Mahal is considered by many to be the best example of Mughal architecture. Standing as a symbol of India’s rich history and the enduring love a person can have for their partner, 7-8 million people visit the site each year. In 2007 the Taj Mahal was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Taj Mahal Facts
- The estimates of workmen used to complete the Taj Mahal is as high as 22,000.
- From beginning to end it took 17 years to complete. There were smaller buildings added later.
- The white dome at the center of the complex is 115 feet (35 meters) high and is surrounded by four smaller domes.
- Many of the precious stones used to adorn the inside of the mausoleum were stolen by British soldiers during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
- 1,000 elephants were used to transport materials to the construction site.
- There is a two-tier pricing system for entrance to the complex. Indian citizens pay a much lower price than foreigners.
- The busiest times of year to visit the Taj Mahal are the cooler months of October, November, and February.
- Cars are not allowed near the complex so tourists have to walk from the parking lots or take one of the electric busses.
- Arrive early to avoid the crowds. The gates open at 6:30 but lines start to form at 6:00.
- Leave your stuff at the hotel. You will only be allowed to bring in water, (in a clear container) cameras, and small purses/bags.
- Be patient. No matter when you go to see the Taj Mahal, it will be crowded and there are also long lines for some of the more iconic photo spots.