Taj Mahal

taj.jpgTaj Mahal, beyond doubt, is the most precious architectural heritage of the wonder that was India. As Fergusson remarked, "it is the combination of so many beauties, and the perfect manner in which each is subordinated to the other that makes up a whole, which the word can not match and which never fails to impress even those who are most indifferent to the effects produced by architectural objects in general".

Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan in memory of his consort Mumtaz Mahal at Agra (UP), is perhaps most enduring symbol of human love. Arguably, it is still India's most popular tourist attraction. Infact, for many outsiders visiting India, it is the most irresistible spot. This perfectly symmetrical edifice is set amidst landscaped gardens on the banks of Yamuna river. Built under the supervision of persian architect Ustad Isa, the building in white marble has the verses of the holy Quran inscribed on it, with the gate being crowned by 22 small doves. Constructed between 1631 (when Mumtaz Mahal died) and 1653, Shah Jahan had called experts from Europe, too namely Austin of Bordeaux and Veroneo of Venice. The two had a hand in the Taj Mahal's decoration.

The Taj Mahal has been constructed on a 313 square feet marble platform, enclosed within a high boundary wall with broad octagonal pavilions at the corners the most elegant dome has a diameter of 60 feet and a height of 80 feet. Pietra dura, semi precious stones inlaid into the marble in beautiful patterns, is perhaps at its best here. The jewel inlaid cenotaph of the queen lies within the dome. Set against the plain across the river Yamuna, that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj Mahal, the tomb especially appreciated for its perfect proportions and exquisite workmanship. As they say about the Mughals in general, it has been "designed like giants and finished like jewellers".

Though, later critics saw a sentimental strain in the construction, built avowedly on a concept which makes death an almost nostalgic aspiration to the onlooker, the Taj Mahal is all its timeless beauty is still the inspiration to poets and painters, writers and photographers. So much so, that it offers a challenge to the poetic imagination, as does the best in the so-called Indo-Islamic 'baroque' style.

Although the Taj Mahal, also noted for its features like finely cut marble screens and use of gems, is amazingly graceful from almost any angle, its close-up is really astounding. Hence, travelmasti suggests, whenever you are in Agra, rise at dawn and allow yourself some time to visit the Taj Mahal's chameleon - like guises in different light. If Agra, whose origins are recounted in the epic Mahabharata as 'Agrabana', is paradise, then the Taj is arguably its heart core! .

Tourist Information

Open from sunrise to 19 hours. Entry fee for those above 12 years: Rs. 15.00. Free entry on Fridays.

Best time to visit

From November to February

Places to visit

Agra Fort, Itmad-ud-daulah Tomb, Sikandara, Tomb of Sheikh Salim chisti, Bharatpur, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Musamman Burj or Jasmine Tower, Jahangir's Palace, Jama Masjid, Chini Ka Ranza, Babur's Ram Bath.

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