Perhaps one of the most recognisable monuments ever built, the iconic image of the Taj Mahal has graced the covers of travel magazines, acted as the poster-board for love and devotion and inspired replicas around the world – but how much do you actually know about this famous mausoleum?
1. While it is popular knowledge that over 20,000 labourers, stonecutters, painters and other artists were employed to help in the construction and design of the Taj Mahal, not everyone knows that in addition to this over 1000 elephants were brought in for the arduous task of transporting all the heavy stones, gems and other materials.
2. Using geometry and symmetry, each side of the Taj Mahal was designed to be identical meaning no matter what direction you approach it you are always greeted by the same beautiful image.
3. While the Taj Mahal has many unique design features, perhaps one of the most intriguing is its changing colour. Due to the reflection of the sky on the white marble the Taj Mahal can appear to be a different colour at different times of day – pink in the morning, white during the day and golden on a moon-lit night.
4. Whether truth or legend, one popular theory surrounding the Taj Mahal was that the Emperor had actually planned to have a second mausoleum constructed on the opposite side of the river. The construction of this other Taj, which would have been built with black rather than white marble, was put on hold after the Emperor came into war with his sons.
5. In order to protect the Taj Mahal from the potential damage of an earthquake its four minarets were built at a slight slant away from the mausoleum. This means that if the pillars were ever to collapse they would fall away from the structure rather than towards it, saving it from any further harm.
6. While at first glimpse the Taj Mahal is truly stunning, it is not until you see it up close that you can really appreciate the detail and care that went into its construction. Roughly 28 different precious and semi-precious stones from all over the world are set into the marble. Blue stones from Tibet, emeralds from Sri Lanka and crystals from China are just some of the stones you can see here.
7. Another design feature of the Taj are the many passages from Quran which have been inscribed into the walls as decorative elements throughout the complex.
8. When the Taj Mahal was constructed back in the 1600s it is estimated that it cost a sum of 32 million Rupees, an amount which translated into today’s value would be well over 1 billion British Pounds.
9. While most cherish the romantic story behind the Taj Mahal there are historians who have a very different theory about how this iconic monument came to be. Samples of rock and material used to construct the Taj have been proven to date back several hundred years prior to when construction first started, suggesting that it was actually a much older Shiva temple that the Emperor captured and then renovated to be a mausoleum for his wife.
10. There is no doubt that the Taj Mahal is an iconic image around the world, but unfortunately not everyone has the funds to see it for themselves. It so inspired one Bangladeshi filmmaker that he decided to create replica built to scale of this famous mausoleum in his own country so that those who could not afford to travel to Agra could still appreciate its beauty.