A contemporary writer, Miss Gordon Cumming, described the Taj Mahal in 1653 in poetical language that resonates with most visitors even today – “a cluster of pearly, snow-white domes nestling round one grand central dome, like a gigantic pearl; all these crowning a building of purest, highly-polished marble, so perfect in its proportions, so lovely in its design, so restful to the eye, and so simple yet so complex in its simplicity, that it resembles rather the marble embodiment of a fairy dream than any work of human hands.”
Arrive at sunrise when the light is at its soft and magical best, and soak it all in before it gets crowded. Or gaze at it from the Mehtab Bagh across the river, or while boating on the river itself. Whatever viewpoint you choose (and we suggest you slow down and choose several), the Taj always leaves a lasting impression.
A mausoleum of white marble built on a grand scale between 1631 and 1648 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz, the Taj is the jewel of Mughal art and one of the universally admired architectural masterpieces of the world. Its flawless symmetry and gleaming presence have for centuries dazzled everyone who has seen it.
Shah Jahan (c. 1592-1660) is considered to be the greatest builder among the Mughal emperors. Apart from several impressive buildings in the Agra Fort, Shah Jahan’s legacy in Agra and in the world is best cherished in the Taj Mahal. For Shah Jahan personally, it was much more than a poignant symbol of his love for Mumtaz; it was the culmination of imperial and architectural grandeur. Although the imperial court had moved to Delhi, he often visited the Taj. His relationship with the Taj had a deep personal meaning for him. He died in 1666, in the Agra Fort, gazing at the Taj. Often overshadowed by the magnificent edifice, the personal stories behind the Taj have cadences of Greek tragedy and the ripe emotion of grand opera.