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Taj Mahal Palace, Agra

Taj Mahal Palace, AgraAh Taj! Wah Taj! The Beautiful Taj Mahal; the Epitome of Love!

Is there anything that has not been already said in praise of this beautiful monument? Poets have sung about it; historians have noted that the beauty of Taj Mahal has never been surpassed; and it is among the Seven Wonders of the World. For nearly very visitor to India, specially lovers, a trip to The Taj and a photograph with Taj Mahal in the background is an absolute must; such is the mystique of Taj Mahal.

Made entirely of white marble, its carvings decorated with precious and semi-precious stones and each part of the monument perfectly symmetrical; the beauty of Taj Mahal is such that it cannot be described in words by mere mortals. It has to be experienced, particularly in the suns rays at dawn and sunset and by the moonlight. Taj Mahal has been described as "A tear drop on the cheek of time" by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had Taj Mahal constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who is entombed here alongside Shah Jahan (who was buried later). Taj Mahal literally means Crown Palace, although the name was derived from the name of Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal stands majestically on the banks of Yamuna River.

Taj Mahal is decorated with exquisite inlay work and calligraphy of verses and passages from the holy book of Koran. The architecture of Taj Mahal is a fusion of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic styles. Interlocking arabesque concept has been made use of in the architecture. In this concept, each element maintains its own identity while perfectly merging with the main structure. The principle of self-replicating geometry, with symmetry of architectural elements is also seen in the design and layout of Taj Mahal.

The onion shaped marble dome is the same size as the base of the building, nearly 35 meters. Its top is decorated with a lotus design and its shape is also accentuated by four small kiosks, one at each corner. The building of Taj Mahal stands over 47 acres of land, in the midst of beautiful symmetrical gardens. The decorations scattered around the entire complex demonstrate a fine amalgamation of decorative Hindu and Persian elements.

Crenellated red sandstone walls bound the complex on three sides while the fourth side is open to the river. The main gateway is also a majestic structure. The materials used in building Taj Mahal were brought from all over India and faraway countries e.g. the marble from Rajasthan, jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Sri Lanka and sapphire from Afghanistan. Even the sculptors, inlayers, calligraphers, stonecutters and labourers were from all over; each specializing in his craft.

Taj Mahal is open around the year, though foreign tourists may prefer to visit during the cooler months from October to March. As Taj Mahal is threatened by environmental pollution, polluting traffic is not permitted in its vicinity. Tourists must either walk from the car park or board an electric bus. Due to reasons of security, visitors are allowed to carry only five items - water in transparent bottles, small video camera, still camera, switched off mobile phone and small ladies purse with them inside the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal forms a part of all recommended tourist itineraries to India. There are several other attractions in the city of Agra as well, in which the Taj Mahal is located. These are the Agra fort, Shish Mahal, Musamman Burj, Diwan-I-Khas, Jehangir's Palace, the mausoleum of Itmad-ud-daulah and the numerous bazaars of Agra. Ram Bagh, made by the first Mughal ruler Babar is the most visited garden of Agra. Fathepur Sikri, just a short distance away is also a must visit for it splendid architecture and historical legends.

Agra is 220 km from Delhi and is accessible by air, rail and road. An overnight stay at one of Agras luxury hotels is highly recommended to fully experience the grandeur of Taj Mahal in moonlight.

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Taj Mahal, Agra

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had Taj Mahal constructed in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who is entombed here alongside Shah Jahan (who was buried later).

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