We were welcomed in proper Mughal style at Agra. After a leisurely breakfast on board, we were taken to the Taj Mahal through the VIP entrance. This was not our first visit to the Taj but the most enlightening one yet. Our guide pointed out many interesting facets to the great monument hidden in plain sight.
The Entry to the Gate:We got down on the West gate from where the TajMahal ticket counters are hardly 500 mtrs. One could easily take a walk too but we took tuk - tuk which costed us 50 rs one side. You will find many authorised guides outside the parking telling you that there is huge line inside, you have to wait hours to get the tickets, and in case you book the guide you will have no waiting time and won't have to wait for too long in the queue to get inside the Tajamal. We asked him the prices, he showed us his card in which the prices were as Rs 1275 or Rs 1375. We negotiated and believe me he came down to Rs 200 and till then we were like no we don't want the guide now.We took the tuk tuk and reached the entry gate in another 5 mins where the tuk tuk wala told us that the gets are closed from 11 : 30 to 12 : 30 as the cleaning process is carried out in the area so till then you can visit the Meena Bazaar. We visited the Bazaar, which holds things like banana saree, pineapple saree, mud saree, leather shoes, and mosquito repellant bedsheets. But we ended up buying nothing.
The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the city of Agra, India. It was commissioned by Mughal emperor, "Shah Jahan" in 1632 for his favourite wife "Mumtaz Mahal" who died during the birth of their 14th child. This is how he describes it in his own words: “Should guilty seek asylum here, like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin. Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, all his past sins are to be washed away. The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs, and the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes. In this world this edifice has been made to display thereby the creator’s glory.”The Taj Mahal took two decades to complete and was said to be architect by Ustad Ahmad Lahouri (the same person who designed the red fort at Dehli). The exterior & interior of the mausoleum is made of white marble that has been carved, painted, and inlaid with precious stones. The design is a combination of Indian, Persian, and Turkic styles. Passages from the Qur’an are also used as decorative elements. The inner chamber where the tombs are located is in the shape of an octagon. Surrounding the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal is an octagonal-shaped marble screen.The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.