Everyone in the world knows about India’s Taj Mahal. A labor of love, it stands tall as one of the most recognizable Asian architectural wonders – alongside The Great Wall of China, Borubudur in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, or the Wailing Wall in Israel.
The Taj Mahal is replete with history and amazing stories.
This article will let you in on the “secrets” of the Taj Mahal. After reading this article, you will never look at the Taj Mahal the same way again. Read on and find out for yourself how many of these interesting facts you know already.
10. The Taj Mahal is not a castle but a tomb
The Taj Mahal was constructed in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to serve as the final resting place of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The site where the Taj Mahal is located is a 42 acre complex – where the tomb is the centerpiece attraction. The tomb was under construction for more than 10 years. It also contains a mosque and a guesthouse.
9. The Taj Mahal is Islamic and has nothing to do with Hinduism
The Mughal era was a time where India was ruled by Islamic dynasties. Hence, the architecture and material culture produced during that time was also Islamic in nature. Unknown to many tourists and wanderers, the Taj Mahal – one of India’s most famous architectural icons, has nothing to do with predominantly Hindu India. The Taj Mahal is Islamic in architecture and philosophy – mirroring the person that commissioned its construction.
8. The Taj Mahal is valued at around 53 billion India Rupees
The Taj Mahal began to be erected in 1632. However, it was only completely finished in 1643. The construction of the structure employed some 20,000 artisans led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri who was then chief architect to the Mughal court. To date, the Taj Mahal is valued to cost some 827 million US Dollars.
7. Mumtaz Mahal was not Indian, but Persian
The inspiration of the Taj Mahal, Mumtaz Mahal, was actually of Persian ancestry. She was the wife of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan who died after giving birth to their fourth child. The Taj Mahal mausoleum, though a labor of love from Shah Jahan – was actually a reflection of his grief and sorrow over the passing of his wife. It was meant to be mournful and not festive.
6. The Taj Mahal reflects the finest of Mughal architecture
The Taj Mahal is the epitome of Mughal architecture – a style that is best described as the blending of Islamic and Indian architectural styles. It uses calligraphy, carvings, and has some evident vegetative motifs. The walls of the complex also have passages from the Qu Ran – the holy book of Islam.
5. It was constructed using Indian and imported elements
The Taj Mahal was constructed using not only Indian materials, but also materials and elements found all over Asia. Though the wood and marble came from India, the jasper and jade used in the construction was imported from China. Lapis Lazuli came from Afghanistan, the sapphire from Sri Lanka, and the carnelian came from Arabia.
4. The Taj Mahal has been looted in the past
When Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb, deposed his father, who soon died and was buried in the Taj Mahal complex next to his wife, Jat rulers invaded Agra and looted some of the Taj Mahal’s chandeliers, and other wall decorations. Gold was also removed from the structure. The looters never returned what they took from the Taj Mahal.The same thing was done by the British colonizers in the 1800’s.
3. The Taj Mahal was once in danger of falling into disrepair
Since it was a 17th century structure, the complex slowly fell into disrepair and had badly needed major renovations by the 19th century. In 1900, British Viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a massive renovation of the project – thus saving the Taj Mahal.
2. A third of India’s foreign tourists visit Taj Mahal
Some 3 million of India’s annual tourist arrivals of 9 million visit the Taj Mahal, especially in the cooler months of October until February. To date, the Taj Mahal remains to be one of India’s most iconic tourist draws.
1. The Taj Mahal was NOT originally black in color
Many myths have surrounded the construction of the Taj Mahal – including the claim that it was really supposed to be black and that Shah Jahan inflicted torture to artisans whom he found inefficient. All these claims are unfounded and untrue.
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