Taj Mahal, (the name literally translating to 'Crown Palace') is an ivory-white marble mausoleum (tomb) situated on the bank of the river Yamuna in the city of Agra , in the Uttar Pradesh state of India.
It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and is one of the most popular monuments in India and also counted among the Seven Wonders of the World – it is a symbol of India's rich heritage; and it was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1983.
The Taj Mahal’s construction was commissioned in the year 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who wanted to build a tomb for his dying wife, Mumtaz Mahal, as a sign of his love for her. Its construction was completed in 1643, but some additional works (fixtures, enhancements, etc) continued to be carried out on the monument for the next 10 years. The work on it was finally wrapped up in 1653 and its overall a cost was estimated at the time to be around 32 million Indian rupees.
It is said that around 20,000 artisans were employed to construct this majestic monument under the guidance of a board of architects led by the Mughal court architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
After his death, Shah Jahan himself was buried under it beside his wife.
Taj Mahal is considered the best example of Mughal architecture in India. The building was constructed with walls of brick and rubble inner cores which are faced with either marble or sandstone and locked together with iron dowels and clamps. The main stone used on the surface is white marble brought from Rajasthan – from quarries belonging to Raja Jai Singh, who had also earlier owned the land where the monument was built, and has sold it to Shah Jahan (apparently, over 1,000 elephants were used to transport these to Agra during the construction). Other materials which were used in the monument are Jasper, Jade and crystals all of which were also transported by elephants.
The monument is situated at the centre of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, that also includes various other components, such as:
The entrance fees to visit and see this monument is Rs.40-50 for Indian nationals (adults above the age of 15 years) and up to 50 USD for foreign nationals.
Agra airport (only for domestic transfers) is situated at a distance of around 12km from the Taj Mahal, and the nearest train terminal to the monument is Agra fort railway station (at a distance of 5.5km).
The closest international airport to the Taj Mahal is in Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport) which is at a distance of about 226 km from here.
Other things to know before visiting the Taj Mahal is that people are not allowed to carry certain items like large bags, food, smoking items, alcoholic drinks, mobile phone chargers or tripods; or wear shoes or any kind of footwear inside the monument; shoe covers are given to store the shoes and carry them with you.