The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India and is the most popular tourist attraction in the country. It is considered to be one of the eight wonders of the world and many people believe that the beauty of this building will not be exceeded. It is built using white marble and in memory of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s third wife Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and was finished in 1653. This building is familiar around the world and is known as the jewel of Muslim art in India. The architectural style combines aspects from different countries and religions including Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian, with many visitors believing that is the best piece of Mughal architecture. The white domed marble mausoleum is most famous part of the Taj Mahal but in fact it consists of many different structures. In 1983, it became a World Heritage Site which made it even more popular to visiting tourists.
Origin and Inspiration
The inspiration of the Taj Mahal is said to have come from the love story that emperor Shah Jahan shared with his third wife. She died in 1631 during the birth of their 14th child and it was the year after when the building of the Taj Mahal began. Other inspiration is said to come from other Timurid and Mughal buildings such as the Gur-e Amir, Humayun’s Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb and Jama Masjid in Delhi. Many of these buildings would have been made using red sandstone but Shah Jahan used white marble and semi-precious stones on the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is located around a huge Mughal garden which measures around 300 metres. The garden consists of raised pathways that split the four quarters into 16 flowerbeds. In the middle of the garden there is a marble water tank which represents the appearance of the mausoleum. This tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar which refers to the Tank of Abundance which was promised to Muhammad. The charbagh garden was influenced by Persian gardens which were first introduced into India by the first Mughal emperor, Babur. This particular garden represents the four rivers of Jannah which means paradise. The garden is not like most Mughal charbaghs because the main feature, which is the tomb, is situated at the end of the garden. When the Mughal Emperor was starting to wane, the up keep of the gardens went downhill and then the British Empire took over and made the gardens look like the lawns of London.
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Just after the construction of the Taj Mahal was finished the emperor Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son and soon after died. His body was then buried in the mausoleum next to his wife. By the end of the 19th century the building started to look worn and in need of repair due to British soldiers and government officials defacing it during the Indian rebellion in 1857.
The Taj Mahal has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in India registering two million visitors a year with over 200,000 of them from overseas. Tourists must walk from nearby car parks or use the electric bus to the Taj Mahal because no polluting traffic is allowed near the building. The town closest to the Taj Mahal was originally created to attract tourists, with its bazaars and markets.