The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Of course you know it’s one of the most splendid masterpieces of architecture in the world. But did you also know the following 20 fascinating facts & figures about the Taj Mahal?
Emperor Shah Jahan constructed the white marble Taj in memory of his wife Mumtaz. 35 years after the start of the construction, SJ was buried here alongside his beloved wife.
Legend has it he started construction of his own mausoleum in black marble as a negative counterpart at the opposite side of the river. No trace of the construction has been found.
Some 20,000 laborers coming from as far as Europe worked on the construction.
To prevent the craftsmen from ever building anything as beautiful as his precious Taj Mahal again, Shah Jahan ordered for their hands to be chopped off, even their eyes gouged out. There is no historical evidence to support the story. If only these walls could talk.
The main building is thought to have been finished in 8 years time, but the construction of the whole complex took more or less 21 years to be completed.
City pollution caused the Taj’s white marble to gradually discolour. You can even see the heavy smog behind the Taj on the features picture. To restore its colour, an old beauty trick of Indian women was used; the Taj got a facial with a blend of soil, cereal, milk and lime.
To avoid the discolouration, only non-polluting (electrical) vehicles are allowed within a couple of hundred meters of the building …
… meaning your motorized rickshaw or taxi won’t bring you close to the Taj. Touts might take advantage and say the entrance is too far to walk – don’t believe them.
The Taj Mahal stands on a raised marble platform, so that the background is only sky.
The minarets at each corner of the platform are believed to be designed to lean outwards, so that in the event of an earthquake they would fall outwards; away from the Taj.
It’s all about the symmetry. The red-sandstone building to the east is purely there for symmetry, to balance with the mosque to the west of the Taj.
The four faces of the Taj Mahal are identical.
The strips of calligraphy-styled quotations from the Quran get larger as they get higher, to give the impression of uniform size when viewed from the ground.
The square shape of the main structure represents the material world, whereas the central dome represents the vault of heaven.
The tombs of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan inside the Taj Mahal are fake. The real ones are locked in a basement room below the main chamber and closed to public.
The Taj attracts more than three million visitors each year – that’s six time the amount of yearly tourists in Mongolia! Needless to say it gets very crowded.
Do not plan to visit the Taj Mahal on Friday. The whole complex is closed for Friday prayers at the mosque inside the complex. Muslims attending the prayers are allowed.
Independent travelers tend to use the south gate to enter, tour groups the east and west gates. The east gate has the shortest queues, but the ticket office is a 1 km walk away.
You need to hurry to see the Taj Mahal, as it is slowly tilting towards and sinking into the riverbed. Just kidding. There is no evidence, although some expert believe there is.
Mini Taj Mahal souvenirs are never real marble as they are too complex to carve quickly. The best souvenir is spending as much time as possible at the Taj, soaking every minute in.