Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra that in turn is situated in India.
Its architectural beauty has never been surpassed. The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. 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.
The walled complex is approached from the south through a red sandstone forecourt, Chowk-i Jilo Khana, whose wide paths, flanked by arched kiosks, run to high gates in the east and west. The original entrance, a massive arched gateway topped with delicate domes and adorned with Koranic verses, stands at the northern edge of Chowk-i Jilo Khana, directly aligned with the Taj, but shielding it from the view of those who wait outside. Today's entrance, complete with security checks, is through a narrow archway in the southern wall to the right of the gate.
Essentially square in shape, with peaked arches cut into its sides, the Taj Mahal surmounts a square marble platform marked at each corner by a high minaret. Topped with a huge central dome, it rises for over 55m, its height accentuated by a crowning brass spire, itself almost 17m high. On approach, the tomb looms ever larger and grander, but not until you are close do you appreciate both its awesome magnitude and the extraordinarily fine detail of relief carving, highlighted by floral patterns of precious stones. Carved vases of flowers including roses, tulips and narcissi, rise subtly out of the marble base, a pa ttern repeated more colourfully and inlaid with precious stones around the four great arched recesses (pishtaqs) on each side.
The Garden Mausoleum
The mighty marble tomb stands at the end of superb gardens designed in the charbagh style so fashionable among Moghul, Arabic and Persian architect. Dissected into four quadrants by waterways, they evoke the Islamic image of the Gardens of Paradise, where rivers flow with water, milk, wine and honey. The "rivers" converge at a marble tank in the centre that corresponds to al-Kawthar, the celestial pool of abundance mentioned in the Koran. Today only the watercourse running from north to south is full, and its precise, glassy reflection of the Taj is a favourite photographic image.
The south face of the tomb is the main entrance to the interior: a high, echoing octagonal chamber flushed with pallid light reflected by yellowing marble surfaces. A marble screen, cut so finely that it seems almost translucent, and decorated with precious stones, scatters dappled light over the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal in the centre of the tomb, and that of Shah Jahan next to it. Inlaid stones on the marble tombs are the finest in Agra; attendants gladly illuminate the decorations with torches. The 99 names of Allah adorn the top of Mumtaz's tomb, and set into Shah Jahan's is a pen box, the hallmark of a male ruler. These cenotaphs, in accordance with Moghul tradition, are only representations of the real coffins, which lie in the same positions in an unadorned and humid crypt below that's heavy with the scent of heady incense and rose petals
In summer, between March and June, the temperature soars up to 45°C during the day. Dry, searing winds heat up the ground and make it difficult to venture outdoors. Light cottons are the best clothing, except in winter, when light woollens are required. The temperature is around 28°C during the day, but can go down to 4°C at night.
Air : Agra airport is 7 km from the city center and 3 km from Eidgah bus stand. Major airlines operate daily tourist shuttle flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Banglore.
Rail : The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station that is well connected to Delhi, Varanasi and other cities of Utter Pradesh Rajasthan. Trains like Palace on Wheel, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj Express are the best choices if you want to reach Agra from Delhi.
Road : Eidgah bus stand is the main bus stand of Agra, from where one can catch buses for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura and Fatehpur-Sikri etc.
The Taj will remain open from 6 am-7 pm everyday except Fridays.
Rs 970 for Foreigners and for indians during the sunrise and sunset entry costs Rs 110 and during the daytime Rs 20/-. On Fridays, people will be allowed to go for the customary prayers between 1200 hrs 1400 hrs at the mosque in the Taj Mahal complex.
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