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Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace" built for love and is in fact the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. One of the wonders of the world, It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 in Taj Mahalmemory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess.

If there is a building which represents a country, then it has to be the Taj Mahal for India. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it is often referred to as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Agra, once the capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th and early 18th centuries, is where Taj Mahal, India's most famous architectural wonder is situated. This is the land where magnificent temples and edificies abound to remind visitors about the rich civilization of India.

Different people have different views of the Taj but it would be enough to say that the Taj has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love.As an architectural masterpiece, nothing could be added or substracted from it.

Mumtaz and Shah Jehan were married in 1612 A.D had 14 children together. The Empress Mumtaz used to accompany her husband in his military campaigns, and it was in Burhanpur in 1630, that she gave birth to her last child, after which she died. So great was the Shah Jahan's love for his wife Mumtaz, that he ordered the building of the most beautiful mausoleum on Earth for her, The Taj Mahal.

As soon as construction work began in early 1630, sculptors, masons, craftsmen, and calligraphers were called from Persia, Ottoman Empire and Europe to work on construction of the Taj. The architectural complex of the Taj Mahal comprises of five main elements: the Darwaza or main gateway, the Bageecha or garden, the Masjid or mosque, the Naqqar Khana or rest house, and the Rauza or the Taj Mahal mausoleum. The actual Tomb of Mumtaz is situated inside the Taj. The unique moghal style architecture combines elements & styles of Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture.

Most striking are the black and white chessboard marble floor, the four tall minarets (40 m high) at the corners of the structure, and the majestic grand dome in the middle. On closer inspection, the lettering of the Holy Quran verses around the archways appear to be uniform. The lettering spacing and density has been customized to give this impression to the viewer. The impressive pietra dura artwork includes geometric elements & style, plants & flowers, which are common in Islamic architecture. The level of sophistication in artwork includes a 3 cm decorative element containing more than 50 inlaid gemstones.

Besides the Taj Mahal, Agra boasts of a number of tourist attractions such as Agra Fort, Sikandra, and Itmad-ud Daulah Tomb. Then there are various excursion options also possible from Agra including those to Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura and Vrindavan. The best time to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra is in the winter months from October to March. The summer and the monsoon months are best avoided. There are a number of luxury hotels in Agra that offer views of the Taj Mahal from their rooms. The best of facilities and the most efficient of services may be enjoyed at the luxury hotels around Taj Mahal. Agra, the city of Taj is easily accessible through air, rail and road. Delhi the capital city of India acts as the main gateway to Agra. There are regular flights to Agra. Express trains from Delhi take you to Agra in less than two hours.

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