Interesting facts about the Taj Mahal and its architectural features

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 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!

The Taj Mahal at Agra does not cease to mesmerize 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.

So, I thought why not combine these interesting facts about the Taj Mahal with its unique architectural features, and take you on a virtual tour of one of the ‘Wonders of the World’ in the year 2007. Let me promise you, the Taj Mahal complex is more than the white marbled mausoleum, although, that is definitely an astounding piece of architecture.

interesting facts about the TajMahal

Interesting facts about the Taj Mahal and its architecture

Old monuments and buildings fascinate me to no end since my childhood and so do the doors and windows. I keep wondering what stories and mysteries are hidden inside them to be unravelled. No, no ..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. Of course, you may be aware of many on this list!

Fact 1: Taj Mahal was built under the patronage of Shah Jahan

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 ascending the throne. Shah Jahan wanted a memorial for one of his wives Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly called ‘Mumtaz Mahal’.

Of course, it’s 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!

Fact 2: The construction of the Taj Mahal took 22 years

The construction of the Taj involved around 20,000 workers, who worked day-in and day-out to build this magnificent complex in a span of 22 years. The construction of the Taj Mahal started in the year 1632 CE and was completed in 1648 CE.

The milky white marble used was procured from a place called Makrana in Rajasthan, which is famous for a kind of marble called the Makrana marble.

TajMahal at Agra
Another view of the Taj from a fruit orchard
TajMahal at Agra
A very old pic of the Taj!
Makrana marble from Rajasthan
The white tomb made of Makrana marble from Rajasthan

Fact 3: The architecture of the Taj Mahal isn’t purely Islamic

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.

Fact 4:  Ustad Ahmad Lahouri was the architect of the Taj Mahal

We often read that the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, and 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. Well, as any piece of history, the debate over the other original architects still lingers on.

Well, the names of the Hindu craftsmen and architects don’t find a mention anywhere, although from the Rajasthani influences one can conclude that they too were involved in the conceptualization of the Taj Mahal.

Fact 5: Taj Mahal’s design isn’t unique

The construction and the design of the Taj Mahal aren’t unique.  It’s modelled after the first of the royal mausoleums of the Mughals in India. Yes, the Taj Mahal mausoleum is designed after the Humayun’s tomb built almost 85 years before the former’s conception.

However, the design prototype is much refined than that of Humayun’s tomb. One can say that the Mughal’s design for a royal mausoleum initially conceived, was perfected with the construction of the Taj Mahal and its beautifully landscaped gardens.

Humayuns tomb in Delhi
The Humayun’s tomb in Delhi / Credits: Unsplash

TajMahal at Agra

corridors along side the eastern gate of the Taj
Galleries along the eastern side of the Taj complex that houses the offices

Fact 6: The Taj Complex in Agra sprawls 55 acres

Yes. The sprawling complex of the Taj Mahal 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 surrounding structures, the Taj Ganji and the moonlight garden of Mahthab Bagh on the other side of the 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.

Fact 7: The TajMahal at Agra isn’t all white

On my recent visit, I restrained myself from falling into the trap of the white monument of the mausoleum that lures the visitors and engulfs them by its awesomeness. Instead, I ventured and explored the red-sandstone structures that stood majestically in silence across the complex.

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 TajMahal at Agra every day, telling their own tales to the ones who listen.

Fact 8: Domes on the Darwaza represent total years taken for the Taj to be built

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. This archway is like the portiere that opens to a spectacle!

TajMahal at Agra
The main archway to the Taj
TajMahal at Agra
A very old pic of the Taj through the Darwaza

Fact 9: Taj’s facilities from the bygone era

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.

TajMahal at Agra
Playing to the gallery at the Taj!
TajMahal at Agra
The brilliantly arched corridors of the Taj complex

Fact 10: Taj Mahal houses the graves of both Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal

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 that are thrown open to the public are duplicates and elaborately decorated. The original graves of both -Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal is actually situated on the floor below the one that the visitors enter.

Apart from them, the complex also is home to the graves of the other wives and servants of Shah Jahan.

Fact 11: 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, whereas the right side structure is the guesthouse termed the ‘jawab'(answer) to balance and fulfill the architectural needs of symmetry.

Fact 12: The mosque has 569 prayer mat outlines

The black marble flooring of the mosque has the outlines of prayer mat numbering 569. 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.

Mosque
The Masjid!
TajMahal-Jawab-architecture
In front of the Jawab or guesthouse during my second visit

Fact 13: The fountains are naturally connected to the river Yamuna

As one moves further from the entrance towards the white mausoleum, you come across a water body with numerous fountains. The fountains are said to be naturally connected to the River Yamuna on the banks of which the 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.

Fact 14: There was to be a Black Taj Mahal 

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. He wanted his mausoleum to overlooking 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?

Fact 15: Shahjahan could only view the Taj from his palace room at Agra fort

Just a year after the Taj Mahal’s construction was completed, Aurangazeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan. It is widely believed that – post his imprisonment by his own son Aurangzeb, Shahjahan spent his last years cherishing his time with Mumtaz and gazing at the TajMahal from his prison room in the Agra Fort or maybe he visited his wife’s grave stealthily through the tunnel…

River Yamuna behind TajMahal at Agra
River Yamuna behind the TajMahal at Agra
doors of the taj mahal
Another pretty door inside the Taj Complex

Fact 16: The mystery of various doors inside the TajMahal complex

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.

Fact 17: Taj Mahal has its replica at Aurangabad

Bibi-ka-maqbara is a mini version and a replica of the Taj Mahal. It was built by Aurangazeb 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!

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 anyways adept at destroying Hindu temples and converting them into royal graves.

Fact 18: The Taj Mahal gets its share of protection!

During outbreaks of war, the 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.

TajMahal at Agra
One of the few white doors of the mausoleum
doors of the tajmahal
An old doorway to let in the animals

Fact: There is more to India’s architectural splendour 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 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!

The Taj Mahal view
Upclose with Taj on my third visit

Taj Mahal and its brilliant architectural features – my thoughts

The very first time I came face to face with this teardrop, I was spellbound. It 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 discovered that it looked a little pale with a yellow tint, as I went nearer. This paleness is attributed to the dismal level of pollutants in the air over and around the monument.

It is interesting how these monuments end up revealing themselves in layers on every visit. Maybe because, on our first visit we end up seeing through the eyes of a tourist, during the second visit we see through the eyes of a traveller, the third visit makes us explorers, fourth transforms us into historians, the fifth turn one into a detective, haha!

The beautiful Charbagh garden of the Taj
The beautiful Charbagh garden
Interesting facts about Taj Mahal architecture
A view of the Taj from one of the side-doors

Taj Mahal travel tips and suggestions 

  • Visit the Taj Mahal in the morning to avoid heavy crowds. And, I mean early morning, as it is open to the public 30mins prior to sunrise every day barring the Fridays. Visit the official website for further details as well for entry fees.
  • You can either buy the tickets at the counters physically or book them online
  • There are three entry points or gates to the Taj Mahal. Avoid the south gate, as it opens late, and sometimes owing to the footfall may be closed for entry. The East gate would be my recommendation, as it has got ticket counters and visitor amenities in the Shilp Gram at a walkable distance of around 500metres.
  • Either opt for authorized  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 and two nights before and two nights after the full moon night. And, the timings are 8:30 pm to 12:30 am. You may want to read more about the Night viewing experience of the Taj
Taj-mahal-architecture
My very first glimpse of the Taj more than two decades back

I am yet to soak in the beauty of the TajMahal during the dawn and dusk, as I have always ended 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.

So, hope you found this write-up around interesting facts about the Taj Mahal and its architecture, actually ‘interesting’ and informative. Also, have you been to the TajMahal at Agra, yet? If yes, what mesmerised you? 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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70 Comments

  1. Bharat Taxi says:

    Nice coverage of the place, Very informative blog and suggestion for travelers. I really like to this blog its very interesting and informative. Thanks for your amazing travel guide and your photos are mind-blowing.

  2. Really interesting post. I have been there a couple of years back and I too spent some time walking around the red sandstone structures. I guess I go up to level 3 as an explorer or 4 historian in some places in the first visit. My family always has to pull me out of my exploring/ reading/ reverie as I tend to lost track of time lol.

  3. Really lovely new perspectives of the Taj, would love to visit one day! I can see why you’ve visited several times. I imagine each visit you can see it in a different way.

  4. I had been to Taj a year back. But it appeared far more beautiful from your lens Meenkashi. Truly different!

    1. Thank you, Anagha… Honestly, photos cannot do justice to this wonderful monument 🙂

  5. Such beautiful images. I haven’t been to the Taj. But, wish to be there.. and these images are inspiring me to visit

  6. I’m reading this part of Taj for first time. Definitely, a different perspective of Taj. It is very well written with beautiful pictures.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Lovely read! Power of the attraction is often misleading when the source is misplaced! 😊

  8. Very nice written …

  9. Such a lovely perspective Meenakshi! Loved your captures ( especially the corridors and the doors) It is so so true that the Taj is. It just white and it’s the whole blend of red and white that makes it so unique and majestic!

    1. Thanks a ton for dropping by Divs….

  10. I have been to TAJ umpteen number of times as there is simply something so awe inspiring about this monument!! I love visiting it a lot but I think I have never paid any attention to the rest of the building around it and your post made me realise what all I have missed there – next time this is definitely on the cards to explore.
    I have also been planning to but never made it for the full moon sighting of the Taj yet!

    1. Thank you…and we should explore the complex on a full moon day,soon!

  11. I have been to TAJ umpteen number of times as there is simply something so awe inspiring about this monument!! I love visiting it a lot but I think I have never paid any attention to the rest of the building around it and your post made me realise what all I have missed there – next time this is definitely on the cards to explore.
    I have also been planning to but never made it for the full moon sighting of the Taj yet!

  12. I drive to Agra, whenever I feel like. I am in awe of Taj Mahal. I don’t know why! And everytime I visit there, it’s just like a new place to me. You have captured all the aspects of the Taj beautifully! Well done!

    1. Thank you so much for dropping by my blog Sushmita 🙂

  13. Visit to Taj Mahal remains one of my most cherished memories. Thank you for rekindling those images. Nice clicks. Superb write-up.

    1. Glad that you liked the write-up…Much thanks 🙂

  14. Very well written post, I have never been to the Taj, But after reading this I am excited to atlest visit the monumnet atleast once. Super like the photography !

    1. Glad that you liked the pics Masoom…and thanks a ton for dropping by 🙂

  15. Amazing and superb pics of wonders of the world. I have visited this destination.

    1. Thank you 🙂

  16. All I remember from my first visit to Taj is the tonga ride! And the second trip happened in the month of June so you can imagine how fun that must have been. NOT. I enjoyed going through your post more than my actual trip. I guess third time will be the charm if I visit Taj in winters. 🙂

    1. haha..I agree that it can get really tiresome visiting the Taj under a scorching sun! Yes, I guess winters will be the perfect time..Happy travels 🙂

  17. Your pictures have very effectively captured how majestic Taj Mahal is. I couldn’t help but scroll up and down this post to keep having a relook at them.

    1. Much thanks Anu…I am so glad that you liked the pics 🙂

  18. Never been to Agra. Your images were so good that I felt as if I visited the place.

    1. Thank you and you should visit the place at least once 🙂

  19. Have been to this place and its mesmerising ..but this beautiful post makes me fall in love with this place again..thanks for the visual tour.

    1. Much thanks Anubhuti…. 🙂

  20. Wow, These pictures pushing me to explore The Taj Mahal once again. I’ve visited here 2 yr back Indeed it’s the Wonder of world

    1. Haha…..thanks a ton Bushra 🙂

  21. Loved your post, I had visited Tajmahal when I was a kid but after reading your post, I realized its time to visit again. Thanks for sharing the interesting details

    Neha (Sharingourexperiences)

    1. Thanks a ton Neha 🙂

  22. Taj Mahal has a different charm of its own. You can go there numerous times and every time you will find something new to enjoy and take back as memories.

    1. Indeed….thanks for dropping by Geethica 🙂

  23. This one is on my to-visit list. We are so used to seeing couple photos in front of Taj Mahal, I quite enjoyed your unique perspective.

    1. Haha….Thanks much 🙂

  24. I would say, what a majestic post… Loved reading it and the photographs are just awesome that make the post even more attractive. Thank you for sharing!!
    You had been 5 times to this majestic creation and I’ve not had a luck yet to visit this once 🙁
    But will soon visit it…

    1. Ayyo….you should at least once! BTW much thanks for your kind words 🙂

  25. Amazing photography, being born in Agra Taj is the best hang out place for me & friends. I have love & hate relationship with this place but seeing it from your eyes is definitely a refresher.

  26. Taj Mahal never fails to mesmerize- loved your post

  27. I haven’t been there. But your description and pics virtually took me there. One of the best descriptions of Taj I have read so far. And it’s my wish too to visit on a full moon day. It would look magnificent nah?
    I wonder what will your 6th visit to Taj will make you? 😀

  28. First of all superb clicks and I’m born n bought up in UP but still not seen this beauty …have to visit for sure

  29. Thanks for sharing so much more around the Taj Mahal, I did not know about the tunnel part at all

  30. Beautiful pics. You reminded me of our Agra trip last year. It is worth a visit for everyone.

  31. Living in such a close proximity to Delhi, I have lost count of the number of times we have visited Taj Mahal. Your post had such intricate details of monuments around Taj, the labyrinth of doors and corridors. Loved reading it Meenakshi. Taj would not have been a marvel in isolation if the beauty around it had not supplemented its existence.

  32. Prisha Lalwani says:

    what a gorgeous article!! Loved the pictyres & the narration!! what a lovely art of telling the tale.

  33. I liked your analogy of white chocolate and brown choco chunks ..:) Even though I have visited Taj Mahal but looking at it through your lens was a different experience. And the pictures were like icing on the cake.

  34. I haven’t been here but the pics look lovely and your take on it was enlightening. Sigh… add to bucket list

  35. Lovely perspective! Most people just focus on Taj Mahal but you tried to show it from a different side. Loved last three door pictures.

  36. Beautiful photos you have clicked. I was tiny when i visited Taj and almost have no memmory of it. It’s weird how people don’t give importance to the other side!

  37. karuna chauhan says:

    Brilliant exhaustive post. we just visited here last year and it brought in some very happy memories going through all the beautiful pics

  38. Thanks for some unknown facts and showing unseen side of taj.

  39. Those are amazing snaps!

  40. You are right about being mesmerised by the Taj. I too have visited this monument at different times in my life – once as a teenager, once with family and once as a mom with my kids and once as a real tourist with a firang. Each time the experience was naturally different but each time you look at it differently.

  41. Lovely description and I liked it that you focused on surrounding monuments as well. I am yet to visit Taj, but your description has certainly piqued my interest a bit more.

  42. Your post made justification to reveal the beauty of Taj from a different prespective. Amazingly beautiful clicks. I was also stunned by its beauty when we visited it 10 years back. Happy to connect with you for #MyFriendAlexa !!!

  43. I never tire of seeing pictures of the Tajmahal. It’s gloriously beautiful. I’ve been there once when I was a child. And now I hope I’ll go there again some day with the children. Loved the ‘red’ parts of it that you clicked.

  44. Romil Kapoor says:

    Belonging originally from Lucknow and having my in-laws in Agra I definitely have a connect with the 2 monuments mentioned. But captured beautifully through your camera.
    Keep Sharing.. there are more places in UP that people would love to visit

  45. Aesha Shah says:

    I have visited the Taj Mahal long back and had completely forgotten about the various other monuments surrounding the Taj. Thanks for this post, the pictures of Yamuna are beautiful .

  46. Suchita Agarwal says:

    The photos were mesmerizing

  47. Just wow! I’m in awe. Can you believe it, I haven’t been to the Taj yet! It has been on my bucket list since forever! Your post is tempting me to take that trip pretty soon 🙂
    P.S: Your photographs have turned out just wow! Also great that you used enlarged pictures this time. Adds to the beauty of the post. And man! I’m waiting for that day when you are known as a well-known travel writer from our country. You have it in you! 🙂

  48. Wow! I never thought about the other side of the Taj!
    What brilliant captures, Meenu!
    Such a treat, reading this post and feasting my eyes on the pictures!

  49. Lovely pics and your interpretation and stories are fascinating. I visited Taj just once as a child. I can’t contribute much , owe another visit

  50. Wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  51. Being a Westerner, I did not know there was more to the Taj Mahal than the white dome. Your pictures are awesome. I’m intrigued by the many doors. There are stories untold a this treasured building. Thank you for sharing.

  52. keerthi vydyula says:

    I loved my visit to taj mahal and understood why it secured a spot in wonders of the world when i witnessed it sheer beauty with my eyes! Those were some stunning pics! Thank for refreshing my memories with this amazing photos.

  53. Definitely a different take on Taj
    Nice Pictures.
    Loved it.
    P.

  54. Vishal Bheeroo says:

    The white dome when enter and watch it from the pathway is sheer bliss and fascinating in the tomb as you enter inside. Love the view of the river when you are on the top and watching people tendering. It’s sheer bliss and expressed the various cultures that makes Taj Mahal our jewel.

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