To people the world over, the Taj Mahal, mausoleum of Mughal Emperor shah Jana's chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is synonymous with India.
The Taj is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular buildings of the world. Renowned for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty, it counts among man's proudest creations and is invariably included in the list of the world's foremost wonders. As a tomb, it has no match upon earth, for mortal remains have never been housed in greater grandeur.
MUMTAZ MAHAL - "Build me a Taj"
As Mumtaz Mahal lay dying, she asked four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the first and second promises. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The principal architect was the Iranian architect Istad Usa; it is possible that the pietra dura work was coordinated by an Italian artist.
The Archaeological Survey of India has decided that Taj Mahal will remain closed on Fridays for the public except for those who go for afternoon prayers in the mosque next to the 17th century monument. The monument, which attracts thousands of visitors every day, previously remained closed on Mondays.
The Taj will remain open from 6 am-7 pm everyday except Fridays. Entry costs Rs 970 for Foreigners and for indians during the sunrise and sunset entry costs Rs 110 and during the daytime Rs 20/-. On Fridays, people will be allowed to go for the customary prayers between 1200 hrs 1400 hrs at the mosque in the Taj Mahal complex.
Described by the Indian classical poet Tagore as a "tear on the face of eternity", the Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the zenith of Moghul architecture and quite simply one of the world's most marvellous buildings. Volumes have been written on it s perfection, and its image adorns countless glossy brochures and guide books; nonetheless, the reality never fails to overwhelm all who see it, and few words can do it justice.