The Taj Mahal is a monument located in Agra,
India, constructed between 1631 and 1654 by a workforce of
20,000. The Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned
its construction as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Arjumand
Bano Begum, who is better known as Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal
(sometimes called "the Taj") is generally considered
the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines
elements of Islamic, Indian, Persian and Turkish architecture.
The Taj Mahal has achieved special note because of the romance
of its inspiration. While the white domed marble mausoleum
is the most familiar part of the monument, the Taj Mahal is
actually an integrated complex of structures.
Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter
and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary
domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5
feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside)
is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy
using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways,
chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the
bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm
to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining
chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.
The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a
main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left),
a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings.
The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river
Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting
pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections
is further subdivided into four sections and then each into
yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements
serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting