Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal means “Crown Palace”, is located in Agra, on the banks of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh in India. It is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Arjumand Banu Begam, also known as Mumtaz Mahal, which in Persian means “light of the palace.” She died June 17, 1631 giving birth to their fourteenth child when she went to the country. It is a first burial on site in the garden Zainabad to Burhanpur. At his death, January 31, 1666, her husband was buried with her. The Taj Mahal is considered a jewel of Mughal architecture, a style that combines architectural elements of Islamic architecture, Iranian, Indian and Ottoman Construction began in 1631. However, there is uncertainty about the exact date of completion. The official chronicler of Shah Jahan, Abdul Hamid Lahori indicates that the Taj Mahal was completed late in 1643 or early 1644. But the main entrance an inscription indicates that the construction was completed in 1648. The state of Uttar Pradesh, which officially celebrated the 350th anniversary of the building in 2004, said meanwhile that the work was completed in 1654. Of the 20 000 people who worked on the site, there are master craftsmen from Europe and Central Asia. It is considered that the main architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri Lahore

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The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from various parts of India and the rest of Asia. More than 1000 elephants are used to transport building materials during the construction. The white marble is extracted from Rajasthan, the jasper comes from Punjab, turquoise and malachite Tibet, lapis lazuli of Sri Lanka, the Red Sea coral, carnelian from Persia and Yemen, onyx Deccan and Persia, garnets from the Ganges and Boundelkand, agate Yemen and Jaisalmer, rock crystal of the Himalayas. In all, 28 types of fine and decorative polychrome stones were used to compose the marquetry motifs inlaid in white marble. The central dome of the tomb is surrounded by four identical minarets, which bowed outward so that in case of an earthquake, they collapse in the direction opposite to the tomb. To the left of the monument is a mosque made ​​of red sandstone, which was built in order to sanctify the place and provide a place of worship for pilgrims. The right side is an exact replica symmetric of the mosque, known as the jawab (“Response”), intended to maintain architectural symmetry but is not used as a mosque because it is not directed towards the Mecca. Finally, in front of the monument was the Charbagh (‘Four Gardens’) Traditional Persian planted with trees, and where flowers grew in abundance. The British Viceroy Lord Curzon replaced by the garden typically British lawns. The most perfect jewel of Muslim art in India, it is one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world heritage. The Taj Mahal complex is a World Heritage Site since 1983.

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