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Agra, India

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Agra Overview

If you have a choice of visiting the Taj Mahal, don’t hesitate for a minute. This unique travel destination, located near the banks of the Yamuna River in India, is the most romantic symbol of love in the world. It’s the ideal place for bringing that special someone you care about. Voted by millions as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it’s also one of the most visited places on earth. It was once described by the famous British Painter Hodges as “something I have never experienced from any work of art.” Standing at the foot of Taj Mahal will surely leave you amazed and dazzled.

But it’s not enough to see it once. In fact, its aspect changes with every season and every hour of the day. In the first hours of the morning, the reflection of the sun will give it a muted reddish glow. And during a moon-lit night, you’ll see a different Taj Mahal.

At Taj Mahal, there’s much to see and explore. Every structure and every garden was built with a purpose and a meaning. To appreciate its beauty, you’ll have to know its history and the reason why it was built.

It’s said that construction of Taj Mahal began in 1632. It took place soon after the death of Mumtaz Mahal who was the Emperor’s wife. She died upon giving birth to their fourteenth child. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was inconsolable and heartbroken. Their love story was his inspiration for having the Taj Mahal built. With the efforts of more than 20,000 men, it was completed twenty-two years later.

Archaeological studies concluded that the same person who engineered the Taj Mahal is responsible for the surrounding monuments and gardens. It’s one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It’s a combination of styles: Persian, Indian and Islamic. Admired throughout the world, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The most astonishing feature is the marble dome above the Empress’ tomb. The interior is majestic and filled with light. The exterior is decorated with calligraphy of abstract shapes, vegetation and sections from the Quran. Inlaid precious and semi-precious stones decorate the bottom part of the graves of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan. They were both laid to rest in plain crypts and as Muslim tradition dictates, their heads are turned toward Mecca.

The gardens outside the Mausoleum are unique in their design and symbolism. These go all the way from the main gateway to the base of Taj Mahal. The number four which is a sacred number in Islam was used in designing the grounds. Multiples of four were also used in the equation when planning. The gardens are divided into four sections with two fountains crossing in the middle. Every section contains sixteen flowerbeds. It’s believed that every bed has 400 plants.

If you’re ready for your trip, also plan on exploring great shopping venues and dine at fine restaurants. The cooler months of October through February are the best times for visiting. This is the destination of a lifetime.
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