The Taj Mahal is considered as the ultimate gesture of a man's love for his wife, Emperor Shah Jahan built it for his beloved wife Mumtaz. There are many legends attached to this monument, which also has a place in the Indian folklore with many stories about the history and facts of the Taj Mahal. One of the most interesting legends is that Emperor Shah Jahan ordered his general to cut off the hands of all artists who worked on this beautiful building. It is said that the emperor did this to make sure that there was no replication of his unique gesture of love. Legends apart, some facts are as intriguing as the monument itself, it is one of the seven wonders of the world and is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.
Shah Jahan had built Taj Mahal in the city of Agra, as a token of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Sikander Lodi was the first Mogul emperor to make Agra the capital of the Mogul empire, it remained the capital from 1526 to 1658. Today, Agra is one of the most populated cities of northern India, it is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Construction of Taj Mahal began in the year 1631 a year after the death of Mumtaz Mahal, the second wife of the emperor. The history of Taj Mahal is very intriguing, the grief-stricken emperor was so enamored with the idea of a token of his love for his departed wife that he spent the next 22 years looking into the construction of the monument.
Emperor Shah Jahan enlisted more than 20,000 workers for the construction of this monument which took almost 22 years to build and was finished in 1653. The building is made from white marble which was brought to Agra from the quarry's of Rajasthan which is a state in western India. The marble was transported for hundreds of kilometers to Agra with the help of thousands of elephants.
The structure is a mixture of complex rectangular plots and has been carefully adorned with intricate Mogul and Persian designs. The dome of the building is around 35 meters high (115 ft) and is one of the most spectacular parts of this architectural wonder. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife and today even his remains lay to rest besides his wife.
All the minarets which are situated around the tomb are around 40 meters high (130 ft) and are symbolic of Muslim mosques. They were functional when built and were used by the muezzin for the azan which is the call for the five daily prayers.
Interiors of the tomb were studded with precious stones and it must have been really opulent back in the days. Precious stones like nephrite jade and amber adorned the interiors along with decorative structures which were studded with sapphire, topaz and garnets. Invaluable gemstones of Central Asia were the cynosure of the tomb.
Exterior of the building is a canvas of Hindu, Mogul and Persian art, made by artisans who were enlisted by the emperor to carve the white marble walls. The complex has other mausoleums made from red sand stones for the other wives of the emperor Shah Jahan. Soon after the construction of Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangnzeb in the Agra fort. It is said that Shah Jahan took his last breath in the prison cell looking at the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal is a UNESCO world heritage site and every year 2-4 million people visit the building. It is said that if you are in love you need to visit the Taj Mahal with your partner to be blessed with eternal love.