AGRA - THE TAJ MAHAL
the by far most famous building in the indian town agra is the "taj mahal", a mausoleum erected by the mughal emperor shah jahan in 1632 to 1653. it is a world heritage site since 1983. the number of visitors per year is close to 10 mio. here is the front gate.
the story behind it is dramatic. shah jaman had (as every shah) lots of wifes. yet when his favorite wife, mumtaz mahal, a persian princess, died in 1632 he was stricken by heavy grief. and so he decided to built an extraordinary mausoleum for her, surrounded by other buildings and gardens.
the central dome is 73 m high. it was built with white mable, rather than the common red sandstone.
every part of the building shows finest art, for example, precious stones are used as inlaids for symbols. furthermore, many texts are presented.
inside the central building is tomb for mumtaz mahal, to which then the grave for shah jaman himself was added.
beside the central building are a mosque building and a guesthouse; these show similar shape.
the plan of the taj mahal complex, buildings and gardens, makes obvious how meticulously the whole centre has been designed.
a shah in india's mughal empire wasn't exactly poor - yet to finance architecture like the taj mahjal you had to be almost a billionaire. in 2015 a crude estimate of the overall costs was 850 mio dollars.
shah jahan lost control of the immense financial impacts, and eventually the empire was close to bancrupt. however, after the completion of the building, shah jahan was overthrown by his son and put under house arrest in the fort agra. yet he could see the taj mahal out of his window...
the taj mahal suffers very seriously from air pollution, particularly caused by factories in agra. unfortunately it seems that the indian government is not able to act properly - in my viewpoint, that's a real shame.
i create for a long time a - certainly rather subjective - "list of the most beautiful buildings on our planet", and my #1 was always the taj mahal -- yet i had never been there!
only in 1990 my first voyage to india happened. and i wondered - would i still be impressed when looking at the actual taj mahal? so, what happened?
well, i was even more impressed, took all the photographs you have just seen, and had absolutely no doubt that - in my belief - the tah mahal is indeed "the most beautiful building on our planet" - architecture and art in perfection.