Mumtaj Mahal was the favourite queen of Emperor Shah Jehan but unfortunately,she died in 1630 at Burhanpur in childbirth.The Emperor was grief-stricken for many months and then in an attempt to make his wife’s name last for ever ,he ordered construction of this grand memorial.when the ‘Taj-Bibi-ka Rauza’ was completed,the dead body of Mumtaj Mahal was brought from Burhanpur and laid in the vault where now it rests.
The best architects and craftsmen from India,Persia,Central Asia,Arabia and Italy were engaged to build this magnificent monument of love which marked the consummation of the Mughal architecture.As many as 20 thousand workmen were employed to construct it and it took 17 years to complete. The entire team of the master builder Ustad Isha,a Persian master designer and architect . it is said that Shah Jehan wanted to erect a mausoleum of black marble opposite to the Taj Mahal on the other bonk of the river Yamuna, and then to connect by a causeway, but that was not to be.He was soon deposed and imprisoned by Aurangzeb.
The red sandstone gateqay to the Taj is quite imposing.An Arabic inscription in black marble taken from the Koran decorates the gate .A long water course which beautifully reflects the image of the Taj divides the path leading to the monument into two lanes. A flight to steps leads upto the platform on which stand the flame of eternal love depicted in marble.Its four minarets stands like the faithful guards.The central chamber contains the tombs of Mumtaj Mahal and her Lord Shah jehan,with inscriptions from Holy Koran.The actual tombs containing the remains of this royal couple are just below in the vault.This vault is normally opened only once in a year,on the anniversary day of the building of this grand edifice.The central chamber is surrounded by eight smaller ones.The light in the chamber is admitted through finely latticed marble screens.The echo in the central chamber under the huge soaring central dome is really a marble. A sound softly produced is echoed in an endless harmony .The superb inlay work of the Taj involving such precious and semiprecious stones as jade, jesper, crystal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, sapphire,coral,onyx and amethyst,glows in the light filtered through the finely cut marble screens.The fantastic and fascinating beauty of the Taj defies description.
The Taj is open to visitors from sunrise to 10 p.m. and entry fee is Rs 2. Every full moon night and four nights preceeding and following it, the taj remains open till midnaight.Children below 15 are admitted free.Friday is a free-admission day for all.