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Should You Visit The Taj Mahal?

Should I at all visit 'the Taj' the Taj Mahal?

Yes, it is a must, because we have the world’s best wonder (The best of seven wonders of the world) and nothing should stop you from visiting it. Let me tell what others say about Taj.

What do visitors say?

French traveller Bernier said, “Of all the seven wonders of the world (1) Great Wall of China 7Th BC. China, (2) Petra 100 BC. Jordan, (3) Machu Picchu 1450AD. Peru, (4) Chinchan Itza 600 AD. Mexico, (5) Colossian 80AD. Italy, (6) Taj Mahal 1648AD. India, (7) Great Pyramid of Geisha 2560 BC. Egypt., Taj is the best. How can I praise unshaped pyramids of Gaza or irregular long wall of China and any of the other fort after seeing Taj Mahal- a poem in marble?”

Samuel Smith, a Britisher, says “No words can describe it - Indescribable!”

Mr M. G. Forest said, “So pure, so gloriously perfect did it appear, I almost feared to approach it lest the charm should be broken."

Wife of Maj. Gen. Sleiman once said: I would die tomorrow, to have such another over me.

10th Installation Ceremony of Alliance Clubs International at Clarkes Shiraj, Agra

On 24-25 February 2018, there was a programme of installation of Ally Bhupendra Chahwala (Surat) as International President.

Dr Bimlesh Tevatia, her daughter Dr Ishani, Marutirao More, Dr Pravin Gilitwala, his wife Dr Naliniben and we two joined this tour and so the international event. The amount of money sent to the foreign country for membership every year range from 3 to 4 thousand for Lions, Rotary and such other clubs. To save this Indian money India started Giants International and later Alliance Club. Ten years back Alliance Clubs International was established in India with Calcutta as headquarter and Rs. 500 only as a token fee. Dr Bimlesh Tevatia and More started one branch of alliance club and we supported this.


Actually, our desire to visit Agra and see Taj Mahal again made us join this event!

When should I go?

Yes, this needs an explanation as an expert. Avoid vacations like May vacation, Christmas or Diwali vacation. Avoid hot climate and rainy season also. With all this no-no’s, the answer is during winter October to February excepting Christmas / Diwali.

Now it remains closed on Friday. Saturday / Sundays and public holidays are highly crowded days – avoid them.

Most ideal time of the day is reaching 5.30 a.m. Lines for tickets begins earlier than that, but still, it is the least crowded time of the day. You will have the leisure – pleasure and clear-cut exposure of the place.

Yes, don’t miss to carry a Photo Identity Card – it is a must because security check is very strict and sometimes rigid.

Taj looks different un sunlight – moonlight - with clouds above it. If you are really interested, “Booking” for “Taj by Moonlight” and 90 minutes light and should show “Mohabbat - the Taj” can be arranged beforehand.

My son Rahul recommends to 'avoid tour guides' at all (instead, read details available on YouTube and Wikipedia) and be sure to avoid any shopping.

Now that you have decided to visit Taj with my information – I am happy. Do read the details herewith in italic.

'Taj' means a crown and 'Mahal' means a palace. So, the Taj Mahal is a crown of the palace. It is a mixture of Mughal, Indian and Persian architecture.

It is built in white marble and seeing it looks different when the sunlight or moonlight hit its surface.

With white marble other semiprecious stones like crystal, jade, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise are used.

The central dome is 240’ high with four other towers Minaret at four corners. Inside the mausoleum are an octagonal marble chamber decorated with carvings and stones. The Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are housed here, they are of 10.5’ x 6.5’ x 1.5’ and 11.5’ x 7.5’ x 2’ size respectively placed on the high platform. The rest of the area has three gates and river Yamuna on the fourth side. Garden with fountains, four side waterways and trees complete it. Southern gate was kept to pedestrians. On its right side is a tomb of maid of honour. Eastern gate also known as Sirhi Darwaja is towards Fatehpur. Here another wife of Shahjahan Sirhind Begum’s tomb is present. The western gate is towards Agra city. Nearby this, there is a Fatehpuri Masjid and it memorises another wife of Shahjahan - Fatehpuri Begum and her maid Nisha Khan. The main gate was built of pure silver and 1100 nails were studded with silver rupee coin. This most magnificent gate was looted by Jats and replaced by Lord Curzon with bronze gate and brass Egyptian lamps.

This is minimum you must know about Taj Mahal:

  1. At lofty mansion of Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur, Taj Mahal was built. Raja was compensated its cost.
  2. After surveying and studying so many designs, the design of Ustad Isa Afandi a turkey was selected and experts in different branches of construction were appointed and work started in 1632 AD.
  3. Materials: White marble of Makrana, Jaipur, Red marble of Dholapur & Sikri, Yellow marble of Narbads and Black marble of Charkoh.
  4. Cost: Rs. 3 crores, but estimates vary from 50 lacks to 6 crores. Yes, Rs. 3 crores of 1650 AD means present day Rs. 52.8 billion.
  5. Duration: Total work was completed in 22 years. The Taj Mahal building completed in 10 years and other surrounding work took 12 more years.
  6. Labourers: 22000 workers. “Wages of labourers were not given and their hands were mutilated” this is a wrong story rumoured all around because Shah Jahan was having treasury full of money and he was a kind tender hearted human.
  7. Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri

Visitors: 7 – 8 million per year (2014)

Outside the Taj Mahal:

  • The side facing the river Yamuna is open, but other three sides have red sandstone walls with three gates.
  • The mosque is with three domes and similar to Jama Masjid, Delhi.
  • The tilt of minarets outwards was to prevent damage to minarets while any earthquake!

Threats:

  1. Jat rules of Bharatpur attacked Tajmahal in the 18th century and with looting, they damaged.
  2. While in 1857 Rebellion took place, Britishers chiselled precious stones and damaged. No doubt, Lord Curzon ordered restoration and decorated with Cairo prepared large lamp.
  3. Scaffolding was done in 1942 Japanese war and 1971 Indo-Pak war.
  4. Acid rain due to Mathura oil refinery.
  5. The decline in Yamuna river-groundwater level.

Now that you have seen Taj you may add your knowledge regarding replica of Taj elsewhere!

Replicas ("Duplicates") of Taj Mahal

1) Bibi Ka Maqbara: Son of Shahjahan Aurangzeb followed his father in building, a monument in the memory of his wife Dilras Banu Begum. This is the only building or monument he created in his lifetime at Aurangabad, State Maharashtra (India) at the cost of Rs.7 lakhs, the worked started in 1660 and completed in 1661 AD. Only two years!

It is a hexagon structure with minarets at each angle. Like Taj Mahal, it has a Mughal garden having fountains, water canals and trees in 458 x 275m area.

There are doubts about Aurangzeb himself or his son Azam commissioned this building. Tragically, Aurangzeb had been buried a few kilometres away at Khuldabad in a deserted lonely place.

2) Taj Mahal Replica, Bangladesh: A rich filmmaker Ahsanulla Moni built a scaled copy of Indian Taj Mahal at Sonargaon near Dhaka (Bangladesh). He completed construction in five years at cost of US $ 56 million. He did so that poor people of Bangladesh can see similar Taj Mahal. He completed the work in 2008 using same marble and stone.

3) Tripoli Shrine Temple: A building raised at Concordia near Milwaukee Wisconsin (US) built at the cost of US $ 6.16 lakhs. Constructed in two years in 1928. It is loosely based on Taj Mahal having three domes and Mudejar style Polychrome stone covering.

4) Black Taj Mahal Of Agra: Shahjahan wanted to build his own tomb of Taj Mahal type with black marble. He began this work on the other side of river Yamuna but could not complete it. It is situated in Mehtab Bagh also known as Moon Light Garden. Excavations have proved it to be there.

5) Window Of The World Theme Park, Shenzhen, China

6) Other replica-duplicate-miniature: Taj Mahal-like constructions are present at Trump Taj Mahal, NJ (US), Rio-de-Janeire, Brazil, Jaime D. Park, Bogota, Colombia, Johor, Malaysia, UAE, Canada, and Lagoland Windsor, Berkshire, UK. (2018)


Other Added-attractions of Agra

I would like you to know about other interesting places in and around Agra - like the Agra Fort where king Shahjahan the builder of Taj was imprisoned and the fort at Fatehpur Sikri having world’s tallest gate Buland Darwaja.

Fatehpur Sikri (1956-1605) - and why Akbar was not great! 

Interesting place to visit near Agra is Fatehpur Sikri situated 37 km away. In 1569, Akbar won the battle of Gujarat, to commemorate this event Akbar built a new fort at Sikri. He renamed this as Fatehpur (Fateh = Victory) Sikri.

The gate known as Buland Darwaja (1602 AD) is the highest gateway in the world 176’ – 54 meters from the ground. The palace is covered by 9 km long, 16m high wall all around having seven gates.

Panch Mahal is a beautiful edifice having five stories every upper story becoming smaller in size and lesser in height. This open on all sides building was used for recreation.

The entire campus has many buildings like Sheikh Saleem Chishti’s Tomb, Jama Masjid, Hiran Minar and Palaces for Jodha, Mariyam and Birbal.

Then Akbar was not great, because, he was visiting Mina Bazar of Agra Fort to catch any beautiful lady present there for physical relation – a great crime. Secondly, Akbar built a second fort at Fatehpur Sikri which was not having any drinking water facility and so it was left to be deserted forever in 25 years. Just for his ego, he wasted a great amount of money and manpower.

Agra Fort

Visitor of Agra for Taj should spare some time to see this grandeur of Mughal architecture. Constructed in seven years ending in 1573, it was built by Akbar and Jahangir, who had to be there as a prisoner in old age. You have to see it to believe it, because two thick walls are outer 40’ and inner 70’ high. You will be impressed to know that it contained more than 500 stones buildings inside. Octagonal tower with the metallic top is Jasmine Tower, while dressing room for ladies with beautiful small mirrors is Sheesh Mahal. If I go on describing each place like Mina Bazar, Mohammed Nagina Masjid, four gates, Diwan-E-Aam or Diwan-E-Khaas it will extend for a book length. In one sentences, it is worth visiting.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah (Forerunner of the Taj Mahal)

Itmad-Ud-Daulah is an Urdu word meaning the Chief Minister (Wazir), or say, the pillar of the state. This name building is first one in Mughal series. Wife of Jahangir- Noor Jahan- built this in the memories of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg – the head of the ministry of Jahangir kingdom.

Construction started in 1622 AD to be completed in 1629. It is said to be the forerunner of Taj Mahal idea because the white marble was used and was decorated with inscriptions of Holy Quran and drawings of Cypress trees, wine flasks and jugs. The ceiling was decorated with gold and silver. Itmad-Ud-Daulah looks like a jewel box set in the garden.

Sikandara (Tomb of Akbar):

It is a Mughal building in 150 acres having “Bahishtabad” named garden with “Naubat Khana” (music playing room). Akbar started building this in 1602 AD and Jahangir completed in 1613 AD. This building commemorates Sikandar Lodi who first made Agra a capital in 1492 AD, So, named Sikandara. Akbar was buried here.

Dayal Bagh - Radha Swami’s Samadhi

This is a white marble construction in Agra in a big garden having “Samadhi” of Satguru Maharaj. There is a colony also for the stay of Radha Swami followers. This religious sect has a specific ideology and gives food to all in “Bhandara”- the kitchen serving food. At present, the sect is divided in three. Construction work started in 1915 AD is yet to be completed!

Davda Sweets (Bhuj), Panchhi Petha (Agra) and Brijwashi Penda (Mathura)

Davda is a name of the village in Kutch having a great number of cows and buffalos producing milk. Unused excess milk is used for preparing sweets. So, sweets of Davda are famous. All the stores selling sweets at Bhuj have their name as Davda sweets. Similarly, Agra is famous for sweets of Pumpkin known as “Petha”, the most praised “Petha” is that from Panchi sweets, so all the shopkeepers wrote “Panch” with their sweet Petha telling “Panchi Petha”. Similarly, “Penda” sweet at Mathura is Brijwashi Penda everywhere in any shop.

So, after you visit the Taj, do plan to visit the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and many other places to see around. Enjoy the work done years back without modern technological instruments and you will certainly appreciate the greatness of the architecture.

So, when are you sharing your Taj experience!

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