Useful Information about Taj Mahal Agra, India. History, Images, Timings, Story, Facts, Where Taj Mahal is Located, Taj Mahal Timings, When Taj Mahal is Closed for Visitors?
Taj Mahal Agra, India | History, Images, Timings, Story, Facts
Where Taj Mahal is Located? What is widely considered as the most beautiful building in the world, Taj Mahal is located in the historical city of Agra. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Constructed entirely out of white marble in the 17th century, it is among the finest edifices of Mughal architecture. Recognized by the UNESCO as a world heritage site, this monument is also considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Every year visitors numbering more than the entire population of Agra pass through the magnificent gates to catch a glimpse of this breathtaking monument, and only a few leave disappointed. Shah Jahan said about the Taj that it made “the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes“.
The Taj Mahal stands for the Crown of Palaces in the Persian language. It rises from the dust-beaten earth of Uttar Pradesh, but even the wildest imaginations leave visitors under prepared for this world wonder. Covering an area of approximately 42 Acres, the Taj Mahal was constructed using white marble obtained from Makrana in Rajasthan.
Rabindranath Tagore described it as “a teardrop in the cheek of eternity“ while Rudyard Kipling said it is “the embodiment of all things pure“. The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631 and took 17 years before it was completed in 1648! The tomb is laid out in a rectangular shape and can be approached through a massive gateway which has an arch and alcoves on either side of it. The Taj, so majestic from the exterior, has equally splendid artistic work done in the interiors. There are water channels and fountains in the entrance which makes the monument even more spectacular. The reflection of this majestic spectacle in the Yamuna is almost poetic in its perfection!
Tips For Visiting Taj Mahal/ Taj Mahal Visit
1. Taj Mahal can be accessed through three gates. Tour groups enter through the east and west gates and independent travellers through the south gates. The east gate has the shortest queues. There are separate lines for men and women at all three gates.
2. Cameras and videos are permitted. However, photography is prohibited inside the main mausoleum .
3. Don’t forget to retrieve your free bottle of water (500ml) and shoe covers which are included in the ticket price.
4. You can store your luggage for free beside the ticket offices and also pick up an audio guide for INR 118.
5. Visitors are allowed to use free Wi-Fi internet service inside the compound for half an hour, and then they will be charged at INR 30 per hour after the half hour is complete.
How To Reach Taj Mahal
Reaching Taj Mahal and getting around the city can be done in tongas, electric buses and tempos. There are also auto rickshaws and state buses. In order to minimize the effects of pollution on the monument, vehicles are not allowed in the vicinity of Taj and need to be parked in the parking lots that are at a short distance from the mausoleum. There are non-electric tourist buses for visitors from the parking lot.
Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort are quite close to each other, and if it’s not too sunny you can just walk between the two. Otherwise, there are a lot of autos and battery-powered rickshaws plying between the two major monuments that charge a minimum amount.
History of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Her death left the emperor completely heartbroken, and his hair is said to have turned grey overnight. The construction of the Taj began in 1632. Th main building was completed in eight years, but the whole complex was not completed until 1653. Soon after the construction was completed, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in the Agra Fort. For the rest of his life, he could only gaze at his wondrous creation through a window. Shah Jahan died in 1666, after which his mortal remains were buried here alongside Mumtaz.
Over 20,000 people from all over Indian and Central Asia worked on this striking building. Specialists were brought from as far away as Europe who produced the beautiful marble screens and marble inlay (pietra dura) which is made of thousands of semi precious stones. Taj Mahal was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. It looks as pristine today as it was first constructed. The monument underwent a massive restoration project in the early 20th century.
Structure of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal can be accessed through east, west and south gates. Inside the grounds, the ornamental gardens are set on the classic Mughal charbagh lines (formal Persian garden). The monument stands on a raised marble platform at the northern end of the garden, facing its back to the Yamuna River. Its raised position is a masterstroke design as it leaves only the sky as its backdrop. Each corner of the platform is graced with 40m high white minarets. Taj itself is made of semi-translucent white marble, inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones and carved with flowers. The four indistinguishable faces of the Taj are in perfect symmetry, featuring impressive vaulted arches containing pietra dura scrollwork and the quotations from the Quran. The whole structure is topped off by four small domes.
The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal lies directly below the main dome. It is an elaborate false tomb which is surrounded by an elegant marble screen inlaid with various types of semi-precious stones, offsetting the symmetry of the Taj. The light enters the central chamber through finely cut marble screens. These tombs are false tombs as the real tombs of Mumtaz Mahal, and Shah Jahan lies in a locked room below the main chamber.
The complex houses a red sandstone mosque to the west which is a significant gathering place for the Muslims residing in Agra. There is an identical building to the east, the Jawab, which was built to maintain symmetry. Within the Taj lies the small Taj Museum which houses many original Mughal miniature paintings. Its primary attraction is a pair of 17th-century ivory portraits of the emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. It also has some Caledon plates which are said to split into pieces or change colour if the food served on them contains poison.
Taj Mahal Night Tour
Viewing the Taj Mahal at night is available on five days on a month, including a full moon night and two nights before and after the full moon. All these aspects, the dates and the timings for the night viewing of the Taj are decided by the Archaeological Survey of India. Viewing the Taj Mahal at night takes place between 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM in 8 batches of about 50 people for about 30 minutes each. Hence, only 400 people are allowed on a single night.
While visiting the Taj Mahal at night, visitors are required to reach half an hour before their scheduled time at the Shilpagram complex. They aren’t allowed inside the monument at night and can view the Taj Mahal only from a bit of a distance. All belongings and luggage have to be deposited at a security counter before the night viewing starts. Video cameras are not allowed inside the monument during the night viewing.
Taj Mahal Garden
The garden that beautifies the monument of love, beginning from the entryway and spreading across to the base of the mausoleum is one of the leading highlights of visiting Taj Mahal. The concept of this garden (popularly known as Paradise Garden), built in the Persian Timurid style, was brought in by Babur. A unique attribute followed while constructing this garden is the usage of the number four and its multiples. This was done as four is considered as the holiest number in Islam. The enchanting garden is divided into four parts, with two marble canals studded with the fountains occupying the centre. Each quarter portion of the garden has 16 flowerbeds each of which was planted with 400 plants. The Taj Garden abounds with lush trees, chirping birds, fruits, flowers and symmetry, signifying the abstract meaning of paradise. This quaint setting makes for a wonderful backdrop for those perfect shots.
Best Time To Visit Taj Mahal
The best time to visit Taj Mahal is unarguably the sunrise when it looks the most majestic. This is also the most comfortable time to visit because of fewer crowds. Another magical time to visit the Taj is the sunset. You can also visit it for five nights around the full moon. The entry tickets for this time is limited though, and it must be bought a day in advance from the Archaeological Survey of India office
Myths About Taj Mahal
There is a well-publicized story that Taj Mahal was a Shiva Temple built in the 12th century which was later converted into the memorial for Mumtaz Mahal. This theory was developed by Purushottam Nagesh Oak. He filed a petition to have the sealed basement rooms open to prove his theory, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2000. Another story is of the famous Black Taj Mahal. Many people believed that Shah Jahan planned to build an alter image of the monument in black marble on its opposite side, the work for which began before he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. Extensive excavations were carried out at Mehtab Bagh, but no traces were found of any such construction.
The famous legend related to the Taj Mahal is the mutilation of the craftsmen who constructed it. It is believed that on the completion of the construction, Shah Jahan ordered the hands of the project’s craftsmen to be chopped off so that no other building in the world could be this beautiful again. However, there is no historical evidence to support this theory.
Taj Mahal Timings
Timings: Every Day, (except Friday), Sunrise to Sunset
Night, 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM (On Full moon night, two days before and two days after)
Day Fee: Rs 1100 (Foreigners)
Rs 540 (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries)
Rs 50 (Indian / OCI Cardholder)
Entry Free for children below 15 years of age
Note: Rs. 200/- Additional for visiting main mausoleum (Optional)
Night Fee: Rs 750 (Adult, Foreign)
Rs 510 (Adult, Indian)
Rs 500 (Child 3-15 Years, Indian & Foreign)
Entry free for child below 3 years of age
The timings of visiting the Taj Mahal are set by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Taj is opened all days of the week except for Fridays, when it is opened in the afternoon only for those who have to attend prayers at the Taj Mosque. The timings are from sunrise to sunset.
When Taj Mahal is Closed for Visitors ?
Taj Mahal remains Closed on Fridays. Other days It’s always Open. Visiting Hours: 30 Minutes before Sunrise upto 30 Minutes before Sunset. While all other monuments and tourist attractions are open all the days in Agra.
Tickets are available throughout the day from the western and eastern gate, and at the southern gate tickets are available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The tourists can spend any number of hours inside the Taj complex from sunrise to sunset.
Night viewing at the Taj Mahal, from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, is allowed only on five nights in a month: one, on the full moon night, two days before it and two days after it, except for Fridays.
However, night viewing is limited to maximum 400 people per night, divided into eight batches of 50 each and each batch is allowed to visit for a maximum duration of 30 minutes.
The tickets for night viewing have to be booked one day (24 hours) in advance from the booking counter located in the office of the Archeological Survey of India, Agra Circle, 22 The Mall, Agra, Uttar Pradesh in between 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.