Are you looking for interesting facts about Taj Mahal? Want to know more about its architecture? Have you heard about the Black Taj Mahal? Do you need some travel tips to visiting the Taj Mahal? Well, then, you have come to the right place.
I have it all covered in this post on the Taj Mahal.
The foremost of many interesting facts about the Taj Mahal is that over 6.9 million people visited the Taj at Agra in India, between the years 2018-2019. And, this UNESCO Heritage monument attracts 7-8 million visitors per year on par with the Eiffel tower and the eclectic Russian city of Saint Petersburg.
No, I am not kidding!
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The Taj Mahal at Agra does not cease to mesmerise tourists and travellers from around the world. The same holds good for us Indians too, as I am back from my fifth trip to the Taj.
Believe me, nothing like seeping in the beauty of the place with a trip at sunrise to view the Taj Mahal or even better to visit the Taj on a full-moon night. I am yet to tick the latter though.
So, I thought why not consolidate similar interesting facts about the Taj Mahal and its unique architectural features, while taking you on a virtual tour to one of the ‘Wonders of the World’ [in the year 2007].
After all, the Taj Mahal is considered by many to be “one of the greatest man made structures to be ever built”.
Is the Taj one of the greatest man made structures?
No! I beg to differ.
And, Taj Mahal isn’t the greatest man made structures ever built.
For a simple reason, that there are other early medieval architectural marvels around the world, especially in southern India — like the the ones at Gangaikondacholapuram, Tanjore and Darasuram , collectively known as the ‘Great Living Chola’ temples of Tamil Nadu.
These revered structures predate the Taj Mahal by many centuries, and have exemplary architecture — far superior to the Taj’s at Agra.
Yet, let me promise you, the Taj Mahal complex which we are going to explore together through this virtual tour, is much more than its famed white marbled mausoleum, although, the mausoleum is an astounding piece of architecture.
Interesting facts about Taj Mahal and its architecture
Since childhood, old monuments and buildings fascinate me to no end, while so do the doors and windows with a vintage touch to them.
I often wonder what stories and mysteries do they hide encapsulated inside them, waiting for us the passers-by to unravel.
Nah! I am not being intrusive. Just that they pique my inquisitiveness.
I am sure, many of you are intrigued by them, too. And, the Taj Mahal is no different.
So, here are some unique and interesting facts about the Taj Mahal that I had observed on my trips, some shared by various tourist guides, and, of course, a few that I read about. Moreover, you might be already aware of many on this list! So, do feel free to skim through quickly.
An interesting Shah Jahan connect to the Taj
The monumental Taj Mahal was built under the patronage of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who is also known in history as Prince Khurram ( before his ascent to power). Shah Jahan wanted a memorial for one of his wives Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly called ‘Mumtaz Mahal’.
Of course, it’s an altogether another fact that Mumtaz Mahal was the third wife of Shah Jahan and she died giving birth to his 14th child at a place called Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh!
The Makhrana marble of the Taj Mahal
The construction process of the Taj Mahal that started in the year 1632 CE, and completed in 1648 CE had involved around 20,000 workers, who worked day-in and day-out to build this magnificent complex in a span of 22 years.
So, basically it took 22 years to build the Taj Mahal.
The milky white marble used was procured from a place called Makrana in Rajasthan, famous for a kind of marble called the Makrana marble.
By the way, while in Agra, you may also want to take a trip to Asia’s most haunted fort at Bhangarh and the deepest step-well at Chandbaori , as well as go on a tiger safari to Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary that has one of the highest number of tigers in Rajasthan.
Hidden fact about the architecture of Taj
The Taj Mahal is considered to have been built around an Indo-Islamic architecture with strong influences of Persian, Mughal and Rajasthani structural elements.
From the lotus symbol on the main dome to the use of chhatris, there are too many Indian architectural elements in the designing of the Taj Mahal.
Hence, the architecture of the Taj Mahal isn’t purely islamic.
Riveting fact about Taj’s architect
We often read that the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan; lest we forget the architect and the workers who actually conceived the design and built it.
So, it is good to know for a fact that Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, a Persian architect, was behind designing of the Taj Mahal.
He was supposedly assisted by another Persian architect by name Ustad Isa Sherazi. And, as any piece of history, the debate over the other original architects still lingers on.
Moreover, as its happening in contemporary times in the middle-east, the names of the Hindu craftsmen and architects don’t find a mention anywhere even at the Taj : Although from the prominent Rajasthani influences, one can conclude that the Hindus of those times were also involved in the conceptualization of the Taj Mahal.
So do remember that Ustad Ahmad Lahouri was the architect of the Taj Mahal.
Surprising and interesting facts about TajMahal and its design
The construction and design of the Taj Mahal aren’t unique.
For, the Taj Mahal has been modelled after the first of the Mughal’s royal mausoleums in India.
Yes! The Taj Mahal mausoleum is designed after Humayun’s tomb — built almost 85 years before the former’s conception.
And, you might want to see it for yourself on a trip to Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, which is another UNESCO heritage site.
Nevertheless, the design prototype of the Taj Mahal is much more refined than that of Humayun’s tomb.
And, even a layman can conclude that the Mughal’s design for a royal mausoleum conceived initially, was perfected with the construction of the Taj Mahal and in its beautifully landscaped gardens.
A compelling fact about the Taj Complex
The sprawling complex of the Taj Mahal in Agra is spread across 55 acres of land — with the white mausoleum at its fag end, flanked by the river Yamuna on its north and interspersed with beautiful red sandstone structures around the Charbagh gardens.
Apart from the Taj and its surrounding structures, the Taj Ganji and the moonlight garden of Mahthab Bagh on the other side of riverbank are also part of the Taj Mahal complex.
Entered through one of the three gates/sides, the monument welcomes every person with symmetrical corridors, beautiful arcades, and lush green well-manicured lawns numbering four, at the entrance to the Jilaukhana.
One cannot resist but admire the thought process that went into conceptualizing the whole design plan of the Taj Complex.
Unknown fact about the Taj Mahal and its shades of red
On my recent visit, I restrained myself from falling into the trap of the white monument of the mausoleum that lures and engulfs visitors with its awesomeness. Instead, I ventured across the complex and explored the red-sandstone structures that stood majestically in silence.
These red sandstones are a reminder of the contribution of Indian workers, the scores of prayers rendered under its domes by the Muslims, the influence of the Rajputs, and the sea of visitors who were sheltered in these corridors.
They are also the first structures that welcome the thousands of tourists who visit the TajMahal at Agra every day, telling their own tales to the ones who listen.
A striking trivia on the domes of the Taj
The main archway called the ‘Darwaza‘ is a combo of both red sandstone and marble, with Mughal architecture reflected in its engraved calligraphy and geometric ceilings.
There are 22 small domes on the archway that represent the number of years it took to build the Taj.
Supposedly, after every year, a dome was constructed to keep track of the time.
Today, this archway is like a portiere that opens to a spectacle!
Now, isn’t that one of the interesting facts about Taj Mahal to know?
The heartwarming facilities of a bygone era at the Taj
The wall around the complex encompasses huge corridors that would have provided stay for the scores of visitors and in-house workers in the immediate years of the completion of the Taj.
Now, they provide the required respite from the heat by providing shade and a place to rest for the visitors.
It’s said that many dignitaries often visited the Taj Mahal for its beauty even when the Mughals were ruling India. They were supposedly housed and entertained at the ‘Jawab’.
On the right side of the main archway, there is a cookhouse that once had satisfied the hunger of the visitors. However, now, it lies closed reminiscing its past glory.
Taj Mahal‘s well kept secret
The white marble mausoleum of the Taj with its typical Islamic pishtaq, known as the Rauza-i-Munawara houses the graves of both Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal.
The cenotaphs thrown open to the public are duplicates and elaborately decorated, while the original graves of both, Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal, are actually situated on the floor below the one that the visitors enter.
Apart from the duo, the complex also is home to the graves of Shahjahan’s other wives and servants.
Did you know that the Taj complex has a functioning mosque?
The white mausoleum of the Taj is flanked on either side by structures in red stone.
The one onto the west is the ‘masjid’ or the mosque, while the right side structure is a guesthouse termed the ‘jawab'(answer).
This was done to balance and fulfill the Mughal architectural needs of symmetry.
The striking prayer mats of the Taj Mahal
The black marble flooring of the mosque at Taj Mahal has outlines of prayer mat numbering 569.
Nevertheless, the masjid and the jawab look the same, barring these differences.
On Fridays, the masjid brims with Muslim men who visit it to offer their prayers. Hence, the Taj complex remains closed for tourists on Fridays.
An astounding fact about the fountains of Taj complex
As one moves further from the entrance of the Taj towards the white mausoleum, you come across a water body with numerous fountains.
The fountains of Taj are said to be naturally connected to the River Yamuna, on the banks of which the monument of TajMahal is constructed.
So, the flow of the river controls the water in the fountains (so said my guide!)
And, the gardens and orchids of the Charbagh were re-landscaped during the British rule to resemble the lawns back in England.
The Taj’s black counterpart
Did you know that there was to be a Black Taj Mahal?
For the uninitiated, the other side of the riverbank — opposite to the Taj Mahal, has remnants of the foundation structure that was laid for the construction of a Black TajMahal, as a complement to the one in white.
This was conceptualized by Shah Jahan for himself.
Shah Jahan wanted his mausoleum to overlook the Taj. However, the construction never took off, as he was imprisoned by his son and subsequently, was buried alongside Mumtaz Mahal when he died.
Last week, it rained heavily and one can see the Yamuna gushing with water flowing majestically behind the TajMahal at Agra.
Are you able to get a glimpse of the Agra Fort in the below pic? Else, do plan a visit to the Agra fort with these curated trips while in Agra :
The not-so-lucky Shah Jahan
A not-so-widely known fact is that Shahjahan could only view the Taj from his palace room at Agra fort.
Well, just a year after the Taj Mahal’s construction was completed, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan.
It is widely believed that after his imprisonment by his own son Aurangzeb, Shahjahan spent his last years cherishing the time spent with Mumtaz and gazing at the TajMahal from his prison room in the Agra Fort.
Some also believe that Shah Jahan may have visited his wife’s grave stealthily through a tunnel…
Intriguing fact about the doors inside the Taj complex
The mystery of various doors inside the TajMahal complex never ceases to amaze the public!
There are numerous doors inside the complex and one such door which is sealed is said to lead to a tunnel connecting the TajMahal and the Agra Fort. I wonder if it is constructed like the labyrinth at the Bada Imambara, in Lucknow.
Most of these doors have been sealed, for now, barring few that are used to stock items used for Eid celebrations. Another door that lies to the right of the Main Darwaza must have been an entry point for the animal carts that had brought in loads of marbles and sandstone for the construction of the Taj.
Visit the wondrous counterpart of the Taj Mahal
The Bibi-ka-maqbara built in the Aurangabad town of Maharashtra is a mini version and a replica of the Taj Mahal.
It was built by Aurangzeb for his first wife Dilras Banu Begum as a symbol of his loyalty in their relationship.
And, he had three wives. So much for his loyalty…haha!
Have you heard these alternative interesting facts about Taj Mahal ?
Like many of the Mughal era monuments in India, the Taj too is widely believed to have been built by destroying a Hindu temple.
However, there is not much evidence to prove this belief. In spite of all these controversies, it is undeniable that TajMahal at Agra is indeed the pride of India.
Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if ever in the future it is proved that the monument was built over a temple.
Because Mughals were anyway adept at destroying Hindu temples and converting them into royal graves!
Did you know that the Taj Mahal gets a royal treatment?
During outbreaks of war, the Taj monument gets its share of protection through extra scaffolding around it.
This happened during World War II, and also during the wars that India fought with Pakistan and China.
After all, the Taj is one of the most important architectural pride of India, and surely deserves a royal treatment.
Try these interesting recommended guided tours in Agra
Some interesting facts about Taj Mahal beyond the Taj !
Yes. This is a fact. Tourists often land in India wanting to see just the Taj or visit ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala. There is no doubt that the Taj Mahal has no parallels in the world and watching a LIVE Kathakali performance in Kerala is an experience itself.
However, an ancient land like India once called Bharat, has more to offer to its guests exploring its culture, architecture, and traditions. It’s time, travellers and tourists also explore the ancient temples and caves in the south of India, that have inspired many cultures across South-East Asia. If you want to understand and appreciate the real India, do venture beyond Delhi and Agra!
Did you know these facts about Indian monuments and places?
- That the Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram is close to 1000-year-old.
- That the scared spaces of Darasuram temple have thousands of micro-carvings and rare sculptures unheard of.
- The serene and breathtaking Dalhousie had inspired Nobel laureates
- The Mumbai Chattrapati Shivaji airport houses one of the largest airport museums in the world
These are just a few of the many thousands of wonders that this ancient nation of ours takes pride in apart from the Taj Mahal.
So, plan your next India itinerary for a longer period!
Thoughts on the Taj Mahal and its brilliant architectural features
The very first time I came face to face with this teardrop, I was spellbound.
The Taj looked like a delicate piece of milk chocolate flanked and protected by brown choco chunks on either side. Pardon me for this weird analogy, however, these were my first impressions of this monument almost a decade back.
I realized that it looked paler with a yellow tint, as I went nearer. The paleness could be attributed to the dismal level of pollutants in the air over and around the Taj monument.
Isn’t it interesting how these monuments end up revealing themselves in layers on every visit?
Maybe, because, on our first ever visit we end up seeing these heritage monuments through the eyes of a tourist; while during the second visit we see through the eyes of a traveller.
Nevertheless, the third visit makes us explorers, fourth transforms us into historians, and the fifth turn one into a detective. Ain’t it?
And, come up with a list of interesting facts about Taj Mahal like this!
Taj Mahal travel tips and suggestions
- Visit the Taj Mahal in the morning to avoid heavy crowds. And, I mean early morning, as it opens to the public 30 mins prior to sunrise every day barring the Fridays. Visit the official website for further details as well for entry fees.
- You can either physically buy tickets at the counters or book them online
- The Taj Mahal complex has three entry points or gates. I suggest, you avoid the south gate, as it opens late, and sometimes owing to the footfall may also be closed for entry.
- The east gate would be my recommendation, as it has got ticket counters and visitor amenities at the Shilp Gram, located at a walkable distance of around 500metres from the Taj Mahal monument.
- Either opt for authorised tour guides or official Incredible India audio guides
- Night viewing of Taj Mahal is available on five days in a month i.e. on full moon night, as well as two nights before and two nights after the full moon night. And, the timings for the same are 8:30 pm to 12:30 am.
- You may want to read more about the Night viewing experience of the Taj
Deals and guided tours to plan your visit to Taj
You may want to check the below deals and options to plan your visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Most of them come with an English speaking guide.
Check these hotel deals to plan your Taj Mahal visit
Planning my next trip to the Taj, already!
I am yet to soak in the beauty of the TajMahal during dawn and dusk, as I always end up visiting it at around 10 AM.
Even on my latest trip, it was pretty hot and much of the Taj Mahal complex and its architectural features could not be explored. And for the record, I am still yearning to visit the TajMahal at Agra on a full moon day.
In conclusion, I hope you found this write-up on the interesting facts about Taj Mahal and its architecture, actually ‘interesting’ and informative.
Meanwhile, do share with me your experience of visiting the TajMahal at Agra? Did it leave you mesmerised ? Did it meet your expectations or do you think it is over-hyped?
I would love to hear your views on this…Please express your thoughts in the comment section below…
Until next time, Ciao!
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