Visiting A Symbol of Love: The Taj Mahal

Over the centuries, history has recorded displays of devotion to lovers that have been the cause of wars, written musical compositions and novel masterpieces, and inspired painters.  Love has even impacted royalty in extreme ways; one king of England gave up his throne to live his life with his commoner wife; another King, so smitten that he scandalously divorced, to marry his mistress (later beheading her);  and, of course the grand structures built as monuments to memorialize one’s love.

India’s Taj Mahal ranks as one of the most famous structures built on a husband’s adoration to his wife.  Commissioned in the 17th century by griefstricken Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in honor to his third wife christened Mumtaz Mahal who died during childbirth. 

Located on the Yamuna River across from Shah Jahan’s royal palace in Agra, the monument consists of Mughal architecture which combined Indian, Persian and Islamic influences. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the world’s most famous manmade built structures epitomizing India’s profound and colorful past. 

Celebrating the craftsmanship of this magnificent white marble mausoleum, the property also includes a mosque and a guest house.  This two decades massive project was constructed by 22,000 Indian artisans and over a thousand elephants.  It was completed in 1648.  Mumtaz Mahal’s casket is located in the room below the main chamber in the exact center of the palace crypt and her husband’s body was buried next to her when he died in 1666.

India’s government ordered nearby factories to close and prohibited automobilies from coming within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal to prevent exhaust from tarnishing the exterior white marble of the building.  

Getting to Agra can be accomplished by commercial or private jets into the Agra airport or by rail with train lines stationed in both New Delhi and Mumbai.  Buses and rickshaw services are available for shorter trips throughout the city. 

Although there are several 5 star hotels and resorts properties nearby, most travel sites and influencers recommend booking a stay in one of the VIP suites of the Oberoi Amarvilas as the top luxury experience.  Located just 600 meters from the Taj Mahal, this resort has earned 5 stars by offering uninterrupted views of the ancient mausoleum, fine Indian Cuisine Dining and other unparallel amenities.    https://www.oberoihotels.com/hotels-in-agra-amarvilas-resort/?utm_source=GMBlisting&utm_medium=organic

This massive attraction experiences 50,000 visitors a day on the weekend and officials have put into place a three-hour cap on visits to address potential problems that come with this increase of tourists.  

According to Forbes Magazine, hiring a Micatos https://www.micato.com/india/ as personal -tour directors will get you an early morning semi-private visit to the Taj Mahal bypassing all of the later crowds.  These personal guides are knowledgeable on how to navigate through Argra, as well as provide deep understanding of the culture and norms of the region.

Once you have visited this great structure, Argra offers other attractions during your stay:

1.      Try an alternative view of the Taj Mahal across the Yumana River in  a garden complex called Mehtab Bagh which offers panoramic views.

2.      Fort Agra is just as magnificent in beauty and scale was built as a military fort by the Emperor Akbar (1565 to 1573); it was then modified into a palace by his grandson Emperor Shah who then spent his last years as a political prisoner by his own son Aurangzeb, until his death.

3.      Local Markets of Old Agra consisting of vendors selling their wares of spices, vegetables and textiles; Rickshaw tours of the history of the city or dive into the sampling of street food with neighborhood food shops. 

4.      Keoladeo Ghana National Park which houses the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary home to more than 230 species of birds is an hour’s drive away from Agra. -AJ

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Content Sources:

Forbes Magazine – https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2018/10/28/how-to-experience-the-taj-mahal-with-no-tourists-a-vip-guide-to-agra-india/#3077d1296649

Travel &Leisure – https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/travel-leisure/article/2111987/five-things-do-agra-once-youve-visited-taj-mahal

Thank you to our PIxabay photographers for the incredible pictures:

Maryav – Main picture of Taj Mahal

sarangib – northwest tower yamuna river

taugustine – Fort Agra

SandeepHanda – Taj Mahal entrance

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