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The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Indian and Persian architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Taj Mahal began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was griefstricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632, one year after her death. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.
By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen badly into disrepair. During the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiseled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a massive restoration project, which was completed in 1908.
The Taj Mahal attracts from 2 to 4 million visitors annually, with more than 200,000 from overseas. The grounds are open from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays, except for Friday when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque between 12 pm and 2 pm. The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after, excluding Fridays and the month of Ramzan.

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Additional Photos by Mahendra Kumar Goyal (mkgoyal2004) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 94 W: 0 N: 150] (837)
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