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The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is located in the city of “Agra” in “Uttar Pradesh” in India. The story of the creation of this masterpiece dates back to more than four hundred years ago. It was at the Royal Meena Bazaar in the great Red Fort at Agra that Prince Khurram, who was the son of the great Mughal Emperor Jehangir, first laid eyes on the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum, who was the daughter of the powerful Wazir Asif Khan. It was love at first sight. It was only five years later that the two could be united in marriage. It was the Emperor Jehangir himself who presided over all the marriage functions and gave the bride her new name – “Mumtaz Mahal”.

After this, the following nineteen years passed happily for the couple. Prince Khurram soon took on the title of Emperor Shahjehan and Mumtaz Mahal was his loyal companion who was always by his side and accompanied him everywhere. It was three years after becoming Emperor that a tragedy occurred in Shahjehan's life – his beloved queen died giving birth to their fourteenth child. The Emperor took this loss very badly and went into mourning for two years. He then vowed to himself that in her memory he would build a monument such as the world had never seen before. It was in this manner that one of the greatest symbols of true love came into being. The Taj Mahal is the tomb and the memorial of Mumtaz Mahal.

Shahjehan chose to build this structure on the banks of the river Yamuna. Skilled workers from all over the empire and beyond numbering more than twenty thousand were appointed. There were draftsmen, engineers, stonecutters, masons, engravers, sculptors, jewelers, calligraphers and others. The Emperor was not ready to compromise on anything; no cost was too great. The materials came from all over the world - red sandstone was brought from Agra, the white marble came from Makrana, crystal and jade from China, diamonds from Golconda, turquoise from Tibet, silver, gold, precious and semi-precious stones came from royal coffers.

The artisans settled down in the area surrounding the site chosen for the construction and this settlement came to be known as “Mumtazabad”. Work on the monument went on for twenty-two years before it was finally ready. The Emperor was forever present to see that everything was done perfectly. After many long years the dream finally became reality and the formidable Taj Mahal was ready, set in a beautiful garden of Persian design.

Today, the Taj Mahal is one the most visited places in the country. Surrounded by picturesque gardens and pools, the white marble reflects the pink tinted sunlight at dawn, the awe-inspiring sunset and the shimmering moonlight. It has captured the imagination of poets, artists, writers, photographers and sculptors since its inception and will no doubt continue to do so for all times to come.

When visiting the Taj Mahal, one enters through the “Jilo Khana” which has red sandstone buildings on either side. On the East Side is the “Fatehbad Darwaza,” which translates as the victory gate and it leads to the “Kali Masjid”. The “Seerhi Darwaza,” which translates as the stairway gate is found to the south and from here, one enters the village of the artisans and craftsmen who are the descendents of the original builders. The entrance to the north leads to the Taj Mahal. The gate is three stories high and has twenty-two small domes decorating it with verses from the Quran inscribed in black and white marble on the main archway. The mausoleum stands to the north of the memorial.

The base of the whole construction is in red sandstone, above which is the white marble terrace. Four minarets also in white marble stand in each corner and in the center is the main building crowned by the much renowned dome. On each side of the main building are two twin red sandstone buildings with traditional decorations; the one facing the west is a mosque and the other is a resting-place for pilgrims.

In the tomb chamber there is a two-storied hall where we find the cenotaph of the queen and to one side, a similar casket belonging to the emperor. Both are exquisitely decorated with mosaics and calligraphy. The actual graves are in the basement of the mausoleum.

Shahjehan planned to build a similar resting place for himself across the river in black marble, but this was not to be since he was imprisoned by his own son, Aurangzeb and spent his last years confined in the Red Fort from where he gazed at the last abode of his beloved; and where he finally rejoined her after his death.