Taj Mahal is Arabic for "crown of palaces", and the name could not be more fitting for one of the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world. Constructed over a span of about 20 years in the mid-17th century as a mausoleum for the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal is aptly described by UNESCO, which designated it a World Heritage site, as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Indeed, the Taj Mahal is truly a global icon because it masterfully fused the artistic and architectural elements of several cultures, including Indian, Ottoman, Persian, and Islamic cultures across the region.
While the marble dome is the first feature that pops out about the Taj Mahal, the careful layout of the entire structure is also incredibly impressive, and it took thousands of laborers several years to work on the other features, from the gardens to the calligraphy inscribed on the exterior. The Taj Mahal also includes other buildings, including a mosque and other tombs and mausoleums for people close to the emperor.
Not surprisingly, given the scope and quality of the work, the Taj Mahal has fascinated people around the world for centuries, and naturally, all sorts of myths about it have sprung up. For the most part, however, people are simply drawn to it today as one of the premiere tourist sites in the world, and millions of people come from around the world to visit it every year.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors