No trip to India would be complete without a visit to the iconic Taj Mahal, the most well known of all of India’s historical landmarks. It is also listed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is on of, if not the the finest example of Mughal architecture in the world. Mughal architectural style combines design elements taken from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architecture.
The white domed, marble mausoleum is the most recognized component of the Taj Mahal, but it’s actually a complex of structures. Construction on the Taj Mahal is believed to have commenced in 1632 and to have been completed in 1653. There are some conflicting historical references to the exact dates, but the 21 years from 1632 through 1653 is the generally accepted period of construction. Construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision. Lahauri is generally accepted to have been the principal designer, and of course the project employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
In 1983 the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s estimated that the site receives more than 2 million visitors annually, and that 10% are from overseas. There’s a two tier pricing system is in place for visitors to the Taj Mahal. Indian citizens pay a much lower entrance fee than the amount charged foreigners.
Traffic is not allowed near the Taj Mahal complex to minimize the soiling from exhaust fumes and other damages pollution causes. Therefore visitors have to either walk from parking are or catch a ride on one of the electric buses.
The Taj Mahal grounds are open to the public weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. except for Fridays. Friday the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. The complex is open five evenings every full moon. This is to facilitate night viewing of the full moon, commencing two days before and continuing on for two days after the evening of the full moon. The exception is Fridays, and the entire month of Ramadan.
For security reasons only five items are permitted to be carried inside the Taj Mahal. These are water in transparent bottles, small video cameras, still cameras, mobile phones and small ladies’ purses.
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