It was Very Expensive
From 1631 to 1648 the massive mausoleum was commissioned by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. He spent nearly 32 million rupees for his love. How much is that exactly? That would be the equivalent of $1 billion today.
It was built in the Name of Love
As mentioned above, the emperor built the Taj Mahal in honor of his favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known as Mumtaz Mahal. As implied, Shah Jahan married several wives over the course of his adult life. But this love was extra special. He considered her his first love, had a union that lasted 19 years and led to the birth of 14 children. She passed away at the age of 39 while giving birth to her final child. Many people are drawn to the mausoleum simply because of this epic testament to love.
Precious and Heavy Designs
As mentioned before, the emperor did not waste a cent for his love to create the ultimate means of extravagance. Twenty-eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were used across the palace. The structure is built from high quality Makrana marbles, which were brought to Agra from Rajasthan. The mosque and the guesthouse inside the complex are symmetric. The exclusive item that adds beauty to the place is the intricate mosaic design. Semi-precious stones and rare gems were used to decorate the structure and these gems were commissioned from various parts of the world. This art form of using semi-precious stones to decorate mosaic works is called as Parchin Kari. It is said that Shah Jahan had immense knowledge about precious and semi-precious stones.
The other materials used to source the building also came from all over India and Asia. It is rumored that well over 1,000 elephants were used to transport the construction materials. Even more so 20,000 artisans were needed to build the palace.
Visited by People from around The World
The Taj Mahal is one of the most visited monuments in India with 4-8 million visitors annually. There have been some cases in which 40 to 50 thousand people have visited the site in just one day. The UNESCO World Heritage has even classified the Taj as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ in the year 2007, garnering over 100 million votes.
The Actual Grave is not Decorated
Due to Muslim law, graves cannot be adorned with elaborate decorations as they can be viewed as an inappropriate expression of vanity. This means that the only part of the palace that is not ornately decorated is the actual grave. Compared to the extravagant rest of the building, the lower level of the building where Shah Jahan was laid to rest is beautifully simple and minimalistic.
The Palace was designed so that everything would fall away from the Tomb
The placement of those iconic minarets is not just for aesthetics but these minarets also have a strategic purpose. In the event of a collapse, everything would fall away from the tomb. To protect the crypt of Mumtaz Mahal, the chief architect tilted those minarets very slightly so that they fall away from the rest of the Taj Mahal.