The Most Touristy Thing I’ve Ever Done
As of today, I’ve managed to check out the two most visited tourist spots in India. The rock garden is the second. The first is hardly a surprise to anyone as it’s a household name all over the world. You probably initially heard of it in grade school as it’s considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world.
I’ll bet that no one ever taught you that the Taj Majal translates to the Crown Palace.
I arrived in Agra yesterday by second class a/c train. I got up at the crack of dawn today and ventured to see this esteemed work of architecture. I must admit that the site and its grounds are rather impressive.
What I Learned
● The Taj Majal took 22 years to construct. It was started in 1631 and completed in 1653.
● Because it took 22 years, it contains 22 domes.
● The stupendous site has 16 rooms and 31 arches. Construction commenced in 1631.
● There are 16 gardens and 53 fountains which signify the completion year of 1653.
● The reason it’s considered one of the seven wonders is because of the perfect symmetry. From the entry point to the palace, the length is 183 meters or 600 feet. The Royal Mosque sits west of the Taj, towards the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. To the east of the Taj is the Royal Guest House. The guest house and mosque are situated at the exact same distance away from the palace.
● The palace rises to 81 meters or 266 feet.
● The Taj Majal was built to honor Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s third wife who passed away during the birth of their 14th child.
● After the completion of the Taj Majal, Shah Jahan’s megalomania caused him to force the skilled artisans of the project to have their hands removed. This was to ensure that no one could recruit them to construct another building as magnificent. For their tragic loss, apparently the Shah compensated the men greatly .
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The above facts are what I learned on a guided tour. If you’d like to learn more, check out this link.
The entrance cost is 750 Rupees ($16.90) for foreigners and 20 Rupees ($.45 ) for Indian nationals. For the foreigners at least, this includes a guided tour and half a liter of water. Be prepared to check out some marble shops with your guide after you leave the Taj as he’ll be waiting for you.
I was surprised that my guide thought that I might buy and send a marble coffee table, or purchase a useless little marble elephant that would only take up space and weight in my pack.
If you’d like to see more Taj Majal photos: http://www.photobucket.com/earthdrifter-tajmajal