The Taj Mahal sits on the banks of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra in northern India. This ivory-white marble mausoleum is one of the most famous monuments in India and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Full of history and heart, many consider it one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. So, whether you’re planning a visit or just looking to brush up on your knowledge, here are some of the most interesting facts about The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
7 Interesting Facts about The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
1. The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum
The perfectly symmetrical, gleaming white marble building is actually a mausoleum. This is a building that houses a tomb or group of tombs. In 1632, Mumtaz Mahal died. She was the wife of the Moghul Empire Shah Jahan. Upon her death, Shah Jahan commissioned the monument in her memory. It is a resting place for her tomb.
2. The Taj Mahal contains two tombs
When Shah Jahan died in 1666, his tomb was placed inside the Taj Mahal. However, before Shah Jahan died, his son Aurangzeb deposed him and became ruler of the empire. Aurangzeb killed his two brothers and imprisoned Shah Jahan at Agra Fort. Sadly, in the last years of his life, Shah Kahan could only see his Taj Mahal from the grounds of the Fort.
3. The Taj Mahal’s four minarets are slightly tilted
The Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1648. The chief architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and he designed the palace tomb with perfect mathematical geometry and symmetry. However, one unique design feature is the slight tilt of the four minarets. This is so that in the event of a disaster, for instance, an earthquake, they would fall away from the rest of the Taj Mahal. This would prevent the tomb from incurring any damages.
4. Calligraphy adorns the walls
The palace tomb is full of incredible calligraphy. Much of the writing is Koranic passages as well as Persian verses. The main calligrapher was Abd-al Haqq and he oversaw the project. The calligraphy inside the great domed hall was finished in 1638. Amānat Khan signed his work with the following inscription: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amānat Khan Šīrāzī”.
5. The Taj Mahal is camouflaged during times of war
Being such a symbol and icon of India, the Taj Mahal is a prime target during times of war. During WWII and other 20th-century conflicts, the Indian government added extensive scaffolding to conceal the Taj Mahal from airborne attacks. When pilots flew overhead, they wouldn’t see the magnificent Taj Mahal, they would see what appeared to be piles of bamboo.
6. The Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India
UNESCO designated the Taj Mahal a World Heritage Site in 1983. The Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India. It is “the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture”.
7. The Taj Mahal is a sprawling complex
The Taj Mahal is not just one building. It is a complex comprising several buildings and gardens spread over 55.5 acres. The complex includes the tomb, a mosque, a guest house and the main gate. Long watercourses quarter the square garden and there are beautiful walkways, water features and ornamental trees. The stunning complex usually draws between 7 to 8 million visitors each year. When you see it, you’ll understand why it frequently tops polls of the world’s most beautiful buildings.