The Taj Mahal is regarded as the symbol of eternal love. And because of its wonderful architecture, it now belongs on the list of the 7 new Wonders of the World. Learn more about the palace of love in India here.
Love that never died – A message, which fascinates the whole world with it’s architectural beauty. The Taj Mahal is the landmark of India. Every year, the snow-white building, with it’s rounded domes, striking ornaments and extensive gardens, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. Its beauty and unique character has ensured that it is ranked among the seven new Wonders of the World. Couples visit this place to experience eternal love, but eternal love can be dangerous, as the story of the Taj Mahal shows.
The Taj Mahal – for the love of his life
There was a complication with the birth of his 14th child. Mumtaz Mahal was the true love of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor of India. In 1631, she died during the birth of their 14th child – a loss that her husband could hardly bear. Legend has it that on her deathbed, Mumtaz is said to have wished for a tomb that the world had never seen before. Shah Jahan spent the rest of his life fulfilling this wish.
Shortly after her death, the construction of the Taj Mahal began – the “Crown of the Palace” in Agra, a city three hours from Delhi. It was supposed to be a “love poem made of stone” in the form of a tomb. With the help of 1,000 elephants, building materials were brought from all over India as well as parts of Asia. 28 different types of precious and semi-precious gem stones were inlaid with marble, which of course was only the best marble the world had to offer. The world hadn’t seen architecture like this before. Several architects combined Persian and Indian materials to create an Indo-Islamic piece of art. Over 20,000 craftsmen from many parts of south and central Asia worked for more than 17 years on the construction of the Mausoleum. In 1648, Mumtaz Mahal’s last wish was fulfilled, but what was the cost…
The construction came at the expense of the people
The construction of the Taj Mahal cost an enormous amount. The state treasury was on the verge of bankruptcy. Unrest and riots followed – nevertheless, Shah Jahan asserted himself, risking the welfare of his people. But not without consequences. In 1657, he was dethroned by his own son. He spent the rest his life as a prisoner locked up in the Red Fort of Agra directly opposite the Taj Mahal, separated by just the Yamuna river. In 1666, against his will, the former “ruler of the world” was buried next to his wife.
A popular legend claims that Shah Jahan originally wanted to built his own mausoleum on the other side of the river in the exact same style as the one he built for his wife, but made out of black marble. Due to his tomb being in the Taj Mahal, the symmetry of the building is destroyed – a testament to his original plans, that were never achieved.
Indo-Persian architecture – Unique in the world
The Taj Mahal is 58 metres tall and 56 metres wide. The marble platform that the mausoleum stands on is 100 metres wide and 100 metres long. The shape of the building is similar to that of a mosque – an Islamic influence that was unique to India at the time. The stability of the mausoleum is so immense that even the four minarets around the main building are slightly inclined so in the event of an earthquake they won’t fall onto the main building.
In front of the Taj Mahal, there’s an 18 hectare garden with an elongated water basin in the centre – for tourists, this is probably the most popular place for a photo. We’re not sure how the gardens would have looked back then in the 17th century. In 1908, on the orders of a British Lord, they were completely restored and largely replaced by grass lawns.
Love-tourism at the Taj Mahal, the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Love that never died. For decades, the Taj Mahal has been the most popular destination for Indian newlyweds, but also for married couples from all over the world. A joint visit to this palace of love is said to strengthen and make your love for one another eternal. Due to it’s perfect proportions and it’s artistic value, the Taj Mahal is seen as one of the most beautiful and most important examples of Mughal style. Therefore, it made it onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since 2007, it has also been ranked among the seven new wonders of the world.
Over four million tourists visit the Indian mausoleum every year. In the last few years, due to fears of attacks, security measures have been drastically increased. The profits made from tourism cover the cost of restorations which are regularly needed. However, a report in 2007 warned that, despite all the conservation efforts, the Taj Mahal will continue to turn yellow due to the industrial air pollution. Because of this, cars and buses are not allowed to come within 2 kilometres of it. Camels, carriages and electric cars now bring the visitors to the palace.