The Taj Mahal is located in Agra city, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is quite close to the national capital, New Delhi. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was the fifth of the Mogul rulers and Mumtaz Mahal was his second wife. She was the daughter of the Prime Minister in Shah Jahan's father, Jahangir's court. Shah Jahan was deeply in love with his lady and took her along wherever he went. She died at a tender age of 39 during one such expedition of the emperor in 1630. It is believed that in her dying moments, Mumtaz Mahal had expressed a wish of a monument to be built in her memory. Devastated with grief at the loss of his dear wife, the emperor decided to commemorate his love for her in the most wonderful structure the world has ever seen.
A manuscript called, the 'Diwan-i-Muhandis' dating back to the 17th century brings forth the name of its architect. It was a Persian engineer cum astrologer named Ustad Ahmad, a resident of Lahore, who designed the Taj Mahal. It is said that the king grieved for two years, spent most of his time secluded and alone in agony. His son, Aurangzeb, who assumed the Mogul throne, imprisoned him in the Agra Fort from where he could see the splendid structure. He passed away during this sojourn, with the Taj Mahal in front of him. It houses the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and the Emperor Shah Jahan, who wished to be laid to rest besides his beloved wife.
- The Taj Mahal is a World Heritage site and also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The word 'Taj' means crown and 'Mahal' means palace.
- Its construction began in 1631 and went on for the next 22 years.
- The emperor employed around 22,000 people to complete this remarkable building of pure white marble specially brought from the state of Rajasthan in India.
- It was originally studded with precious stones like nephrite jade and amber brought from Central Asia, and its interior intricately designed with marble work. Other components that adorned the structure were, sapphire, garnets, topaz and corals from China, Burma and Central Asia, sandstone brought from Fatehpur Sikri, gemstones like lapiz lauzli and sapphire from Sri Lanka and diamonds from Panna.
- 1000 elephants were believed to have carried the marble to the construction site.
- Its main entrance gate is 151 × 117 feet and has a height of 100 feet.
- The structure is built on a raised platform with a 24.5 m high inner dome of 17.7 m diameter. The four minarets on each of its corner are 41 m high.
- The complex is pleasantly designed with a mosque, gardens, fountains and gateways.
- A story about the Taj Mahal that is still very popular in India is that, Shah Jahan ordered the hands of all the workers to be cut so that no one could replicate this tomb elsewhere on this planet.