The Taj Mahal in Agra, a dream in white marble was built by Shah Jehan as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Begum. Built on the banks of the river Jumna, it was started in 1632 A.D. and took 22 years to complete. Marble from Makrana and precious stones from different parts of the world were used in its construction. Planned by Isa, a Persian architect it is a masterpiece of architecture. The Taj is situated in the centre of a high marble terrace. A marble minaret of four storeys stands on each of the four corners of the terrace. The minarets are crowned with domes. The main structure is a square. A huge, vaulted recess with smaller arched recesses in two storeys on either side make up the facade of the building on all sides. An octagonal hall with an exquisite perforated marble screen contains the cenotaphs of Mumtaz and Shah Jehan. The vaulted ceiling is crowned in the centre by a large bulbous dome which tapers off into a foliated crest. Around the dome are four cupolas. The surface of the walls – exterior and interior and the cenotaphs are beautifully decorated with pietra dura, floral and geometrical designs. Borders of inscriptions decorate the main archways.
A Mosque on the west and a corresponding structure on the east in red sand-stone complete the effect of symmetry. Situated in a large enclosed rectangular garden with fountains, ornamental pools and water-courses, entrance to the Taj is by a majestic gateway.
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