The Taj Mahal (lit. ‘Crown of the Palace’) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna within the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to deal with the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is that the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which incorporates a mosque and a guest house, and is about in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.
The Taj Mahal attracts an outsized number of tourists. UNESCO documented quite 2 million visitors in 2001, which had increased to about 7–8 million in 2014. A two-tier system is in situ, with a significantly lower admission for Indian citizens and a costlier one for foreigners. In 2018, the fee for Indian citizens was 50 INR, for foreign tourists 1,100 INR. Most tourists visit within the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic isn’t allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking areas or catch an electrical bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored to be used as a replacement visitor centre. In 2019, so as to deal with overtourism, the location instituted fines for visitors who stayed longer than three hours.
The small town to the south of the Taj, referred to as Taj Ganji or Mumtazabad, was initially constructed with caravanserais, bazaars and markets to serve the requirements of tourists and workers. Lists of recommended travel destinations often feature the Taj Mahal, which also appears in several listings of seven wonders of the fashionable world, including the recently announced New Seven Wonders of the planet, a recent poll with 100 million votes.
The grounds are open from 06:00 to 19:00 weekdays, apart from Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12:00 and 14:00. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the complete moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and therefore the month of Ramadan.
The Taj Mahal is made on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra. Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with an outsized palace within the center of Agra in exchange for the land. An area of roughly 1.2 hectares (3 acres) was excavated, crammed with dirt to scale back seepage, and levelled at 50 meters (160 ft) above riverbank. In the tomb area, wells were dug and crammed with stone and rubble to make the footings of the tomb. Instead of lashed bamboo, workmen constructed a huge brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb. The scaffold was so enormous that foremen estimated it might take years to dismantle.
The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from everywhere India and Asia. It is believed over 1,000 elephants were wont to transport building materials. It took the efforts of twenty-two, laborers, painters, embroidery artists and stonecutters to shape the Taj Mahal. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and therefore the lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and therefore the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty-eight sorts of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble.