The Taj Mahal has held a special place in the minds of Indians — and travelers — as THE symbol of love. Here are some interesting facts about it that you may not have known.
1. Labor of decades
It took 22 years and around 22,000 people to build the Taj Mahal. It’s said that over 1,000 elephants were used to transport necessary construction materials. It cost about 32 million of Indian currency to build at the time of construction.
2. Gem of a monument
About 28 different varieties of precious and semi-precious stones, brought from different parts of Asia, were inlaid into the white marble used to construct the Taj. The marble was brought from Rajasthan, blue stones from Tibet, emeralds from Sri Lanka, jasper from Punjab and crystals from China.
3. Cultural amalgam
The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
4. A fine balance
All the four pillars of Taj Mahal were built to slant away from the monument slightly so that if the pillars ever collapsed due to natural calamities, like an earthquake, the main monument would be protected.
5. The number game
UNESCO named the Taj a world heritage site in 1983, and it has long maintained a position in the seven wonders of the world. Over the years, there have been many attempts to ‘sell’ the Taj Mahal. In fact, Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, better known as Natwarlal, was a noted Indian conman known for repeatedly ‘selling’ the Taj Mahal.
6. Black and white
It’s been said that Shah Jahan wanted to construct an identical back Taj Mahal on the other side of the river, which was meant to be his own tomb. But he wouldn’t be able to, as he was imprisoned by his son Aurangazeb. However, the base of the black marble Taj Mahal can still be seen across the river.
7. Seven feet under
Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory Shah Jahan had built the Taj, was kept in a mummified form until the monument was complete. Four minarets frame her tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chambered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.
8. Color play
The white marble of the Taj reflect the colors of the sky, depending on the time of the day. It appears pink in the morning, white during the day, and golden in the moonlight.
9. Into the night
Visiting hours of the Taj Mahal are sunrise to sunset and it’s closed on Fridays. But, on full moon nights, visitors are allowed between 8:30 p.m. and half-past midnight for 30 minutes.
10. Thumb tax
It’s said that Shah Jahan had ordered the thumbs of all workers to be cut off immediately after the construction of Taj Mahal because he wanted no one to be able to recreate such a marvel anywhere in the world. However, nobody has been able to prove this story true.