The world’s greatest architectural gesture to a single instance of inconsolable grief, the Taj Mahal was described by India’s Nobel Laureate poet, Tagore, as a “tear drop on the face of humanity”. Arguably the world’s most famous building, its mesmerizing beauty is such that, despite the hype, no one comes away disappointed.
Shah Jahan, the fifth of the Great Mughals, so loved his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal that when she died in childbirth he resolved to build her the most magnificent memorial on earth on the right bank of the River Yamuna in full view of his fortress palace. According to the French traveller Tavnier, work on the Taj-i-Mahal (Crown of the Palace) commenced in 1632 and took 22 years to complete, employing a workforce of 20,000. The white marble was quarried in Rajasthan and transported 300 km by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Colourful semi-precious stones came from as far away as Baghdad, China, Afghanistan, Tibet, Egypt, Russia and the Indian Ocean.