Think of Agra and you can visualize the world famous Taj Mahal, the eighth wonder of the World, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The various monuments within the Taj complex represent the amalgamation of different cultures that marked the Mughal period. The magnificent and exemplary edifice Taj Mahal in Agra is a remarkable monument depicting Mughal architecture.
The structure of Taj Mahal in India portrays the Islamic style (Mughal style) of architecture belonging to the medieval period. The Islamic style of architecture is well known as the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The Taj Mahal in Agra located towards the far end of the enclosure of Char Bagh, near the bank of river Yamuna, also reflects the influence of Persian architecture.
Taj Mahal with a high base has four tapering minarets at each corner. At the center of this base is an octagonal structure comprising of a central hall, with four small halls grouped around it. The Taj Mahal is a two-storied structure, each having arched recesses with a highly decorated iwan in the middle. The tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shahjahan are actually located in the basement, while their replicas are kept above the same place in the upper hall.
Made of white marble, the walls of Taj Mahal are decorated with exquisite pietra dura (stone inlay) work. In spite of its massive proportions, Taj Mahal looks light and airy. The Taj Mahal and the gardens facing it can be approached through an arched gateway. Each section of this building is an ideal construction with a perfect symmetry.
Story Behind Taj Mahal
Shahjahan, the fifth Mughal emperor was a great lover of art and culture. He had a passion for marble and used it extensively whenever he constructed a building. Mughal architecture reached its zenith when Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal. The story of Taj Mahal retreats to June 17, 1631 when Mumtaz Mahal breathed her last after delivering her 14th child. Shocked by her sudden demise, Shahjahan resolved to immortalize their love in some form. Before the construction of Taj Mahal, Mumtaz Mahal was given a temporary burial in the Zainabadi garden in Burhanpur before the body was brought to Taj Mahal Agra for the final burial.
Monuments within the Taj Complex
The monuments within the Taj Complex are entirely made of red sandstone. Out of the two mosques, the one towards the west (left side of the Taj) is used for offering prayers, as it not only sanctifies the Taj but also faces Mecca. The replica on the other side is known as the Jawab (answer).
Taj Mahal serves as a backdrop for the annual Taj Mahotsav (Taj festival) held in the month of February. The Taj Mahotsav celebrates the traditional Indian art forms and crafts. The main events of this festival include classical dance performances by leading dance exponents and musical recitals by maestros, apart from the display of various craft products and cultural shows.
How to Reach Taj Mahal
Agra is well connected by air, road and railways with most parts of India. It takes only half an hour to reach Agra from New Delhi. A highway journey takes about 5 hours. As Agra is the main junction between Delhi and Varanasi, a number of trains pass through the city. The best options are of course Shatabdi Express and Taj Express.