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We were told, “You can’t call yourself have been to India if you haven’t seen Taj Mahal!”

Jing had visited The Taj on her first trip to India in 2001, and she doesn´t think she had seen enough of India by just visited Taj Mahal alone. Whereas this time, after travelling and living in India for 4 months, I was initailly refused to make our trip to Agra. If I haven’t seen it, should I say I haven’t been to India?

Not really!

India is a huge country and The Taj is certainly not the full representation of India… It is a part of India and it is one of the most easily accessable tourist site of India…

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Here’s the story:

Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and it is considered the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. The Muslim Emperor Shah Jahan (died 1666 C.E.) built Taj Mahal in the memory of his dear wife, Queen Mumtaz Mahal at Agra, India. It is built entirely from white marble, some say it is an expression of a “dream.” Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber. The grave of Shah Jahan was added to it later.

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Its architectural design:

The Taj stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and a symmetry of architectural elements.

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Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.

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The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.

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Taj Mahal was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers. It was completed in 1648 C.E. at a cost of 32 Million Rupees. The construction documents show that its master architect was Ustad ‘Isa, the renowned Islamic architect of his time. Expert craftsmen from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed. In addition, many renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on many specialized tasks.

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‘Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. The Taj seems to glow in the light of the full moon. On a foggy morning, the visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Jamuna river. ‘ Unfortunately we didn’t experience these beautiful moment, instead, we nearly had our feet burned by walking bare footed on the hot stone floor in the mid summer day…

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Once again, with a Western face I became photo model for the Indian tourists…

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Alex
(Text Source: Taj Mahal, Mausoleum of Mumtaz Maha)

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