10 Facts and 5 Myths about the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal with its reflection in the water along with the fountain

Are you familiar with the Taj Mahal? Since you are reading this now, I suppose you have heard of this famous mausoleum and would like to know more about it. As most people know, the Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. I am sure many tourists including you have dreamed of visiting this spectacular sight in Agra, India. Now let me tell you all about some of the facts and myths surrounding this white marble mausoleum that most of you might not know.



10 Facts about the Taj Mahal

 

1.      The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife

Like several of his predecessors, Shah Jahan married many wives throughout his adult life. Among his wives, he had his favorite, his real first love, and his third wife, Arjumand Banu Begum or most commonly known as Mumtaz Mahal. Their relationship led to the birth of 14 children. However, after giving birth to their last child, Mumtaz Mahal died at the age of 39. Sick in grief, Shah Jahan decided to memorialize his wife with a spectacular mausoleum. The construction began in 1632 and was completed in 1648.

 

A tourist enjoying the view of Taj Mahal


2.      The only part of the mausoleum that is not decorated is the grave

Islamic tradition does not allow graves to be ornately decorated thus, Shah Jahan and his wife are buried in a plain crypt at the lower level of the Palace.

 

3.      Taj Mahal was constructed in a perfectly symmetrical manner except also for the grave

From outside to inside features of the Taj Mahal, everything is in perfect symmetry. Not until Shah Jahan's tomb was placed beside his wife after his death in 1666. Mumtaz Mahal's tomb was placed at the exact center of the mausoleum so when their son, Aurangzeb decided to place Shah Jahan's tomb at the west-center of the mausoleum, it broke the equilibrium of the palace.

 

4.      The non-perpendicular minarets of the Taj Mahal

There are four minarets on the corners of the Taj Mahal. It is designed not for aesthetic purposes but to protect the main mausoleum in the event of a collapse. The four minarets are constructed tilting outwards so, at a time of an earthquake or any calamity, the minarets would fall away from the main palace and the tomb.

 

5.      The Taj Mahal changes colors 

The Taj Mahal is such a view at any time of the day. Its colors vary and reflect the colors of the sky. It turns into a pinkish hue in the early morning. During the evening, it looks milky white. And while under the moonlight at night time, it gives out a light blue hue. The Taj Mahal is indeed a magical view.

 

The Taj Mahal during the golden hour along the Yamuna River

6.      Taj Mahal camouflages during times of war

During World War II, the Indian government and its people have gone to great lengths to shield their valued landmark from attacks. The architects added extensive scaffolding to hide the structure from the airborne bombers so instead of seeing the majestic view of the Taj Mahal, pilots would only see what looked like a pile of bamboo.

 

7.      Automobiles are prohibited near the Taj Mahal

Cars and buses are strictly not allowed from within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal. This is to preserve and prevent gasoline-powered vehicles from tarnishing the exterior of the building. 

 

8.      The Taj Mahal costs a hefty sum of money to be built

The Taj Mahal is believed to have been built at an estimated cost of 32 million rupees or equivalent to around 1 billion US dollars at the time. Most of the expenditures went towards the cost of 28 precious stones and the wages of the workers. 

 

9.      It took a tremendous amount of people and animals to build the Taj Mahal 

It is believed that more than 20,000 workers were involved in making this splendid palace. They consisted of artisans, laborers, calligraphers, painters, craftsmen, and more. But not only people, it is said that around a thousand elephants also took part by transferring heavy building materials such as massive stones to the Taj Mahal. 

 

10.  Shah Jahan was not allowed to enter the Taj Mahal during his final years

Shah Jahan was put under house arrest in 1658 by his son Aurangzeb, who was after the throne. Aurangzeb fought with his brother, Dara Shikoh over succession with the former emerged victoriously and imprisoning his father in Agra Fort, and barred from visiting Taj Mahal for the remainder of his life. 


The breathtaking view of Taj Mahal with golden hue under the sunlight


5 Myths about the Taj Mahal

 

1.       The artisans of the Taj Mahal were amputated

According to some, Shah Jahan cut off the hands of the workers, architects, and craftsmen of the Taj Mahal after it was completed. This is because Shah Jahan wanted to make sure that no one can ever imitate or build another structure like the Taj Mahal. Other stories claimed that people involved in the construction were made to sign contracts not to take part in any structure with a similar design.

 

2.       The myth behind the hole in the ceiling of the main hall 

The Taj Mahal might not be as flawless as we know. The ceiling of the main hall above Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb contains a small hole. It is said that the artisans purposely made the hole so it would have a flaw and sabotage Shah Jahan’s dream of making the Taj Mahal flawless after the artisans knew about the emperor’s plan of amputating all the workers after the construction of the mausoleum.

 

3.       Shah Jahan planned Taj Mahal to have a black twin

It is believed that Shah Jahan planned another mausoleum for himself as a Black Taj Mahal. The ruins of black marble found across the white Taj Mahal in the Mehtab Garden seemed to support this legend. However, excavations in the 1990s found that black marbles were just discolored white stones. 

 

4.       The Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu Temple

Controversies are surrounding the Taj Mahal and one of these is that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple, a Shiva Temple to be exact, by the name of Tejo Mahalaya. The claim was made by a person named P.N. Oak. He showed ‘proof’ about the engravings on the Taj Mahal which he believed not to be Islamic in origin. This claim was urged by many to restore the Hindu Temple and put the Indian Government in a difficult situation. Up to this day, many people in India still believe this claim. 

 

5.       The Taj Mahal is sinking

Despite all the precautions in constructing the Taj Mahal, some experts believed that the Taj Mahal is sinking as a result of damage to its structure due to the drying of the Yamuna River. This made some people prove that building it on the bank of the river was its biggest disadvantage. The Archaeological Survey of India has dismissed this claim and said that it has not detected any changes in its base in the last seven decades. 



Aerial view of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal has a lot of interesting stories surrounding it. Now that you heard some of it, all that’s left is for you to see this amazing structure with your own eyes. Rakso Travel can help you find your way to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal as well as to other great cities in India. Start your journey with our Incredible India and India Golden Triangle tour packages.


What are you waiting for? Plan your India trip and fly with us soon.


Blog Contributor: Bern Valdez

Photos by: Rakso Travel and India partner


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