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Taj Mahal, Agra

Obligatory iconic photos coming up, but first, a short story about the history of this famed wonder of the world.

The Taj is THE monument of all love monuments. Shah Jahan, a Mughal ruler who was known as “King of the World” in his time, built this mausoleum as a memorial to his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died after complications from birthing their 14th child. Legend has it that in her dying breath she asked for a monument to be remembered by. It took over 20,000 people 22 years to build, but the Taj Mahal is more than just a monument, it’s an exquisite work of art.

Some fun facts:

  • Shah Jahan used only white marble for the Taj since white’s a color of purity and mourning.
  • The four towers on each corner surrounding the Taj are built at a slight angle, so that if they were to ever fall, they will fall away from the Taj.
  • The Arabic script surrounding the doorways was created with its visual scale in mind. Although it appears to be perfectly sized, in reality it is slightly larger the higher up you go to maintain this illusion of perfection.
  • The original gardens were changed during the British Raj. Abundant fruit trees and sweet smelling flora were culled and/or replaced with trees and perennials of English style and origin, many of which we still see today.
  • The trees that line the waterway are cypress trees, signifying death and eternity for the Mughals; fruit trees represent life and the earthly realm.
  • Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort by one of his younger sons who wanted the throne for himself. Across the river from the Taj, he could no longer visit. He installed mirrors in his living area in Agra Fort so he could see the Taj no matter which way he was facing.
  • The Taj is known for its perfect symmetry. Uninterested in building another tomb, his son interred Shah Jahan’s body in the Taj Mahal next to Mumtaz, throwing off the perfectly planned symmetry.
  • The sarcophagi you see inside the tomb area are false; the real bodies are on a floor below, undisturbed by visitors.

The building across the Taj, just as the sun started to rise:

Detail of inlay and carving in the front. Inside the tomb is even more ornate (but no photos or video allowed).The mosque to the left of the tomb at the Taj Mahal. There is an identical-looking building on the right side of the tomb, solely for symmetry:

Other tourists having fun, and the dried up Yamuna river behind the Taj:

These guys were tickled that we were all wearing the same color. They asked Jon where his was and we took pictures together (they even took one on their flip phone!):

Side note: We’re 90’s children, and visiting Agra recalled Agrabah of Disney’s Aladdin.

5 Comments

  1. Eve Eve

    Love the story and fabulous pictures

  2. Patty Crowe Patty Crowe

    Glad to see you have time to post again, Sam. Can’t wait to see all of your new entries.

    • Thanks! Looking forward to getting back to the blog too =)

  3. red red

    Enjoy reading your posts immensely, as always learning something new. Sad to read that Shah Jahan had been imprisoned.

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