The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous monuments in the world.
Located in Agra, northern India, the spectacular white marble dome and its picturesque gardens may resemble a huge palace, but were actually built as a mausoleum in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife.
Today the landmark attracts around eight million visitors annually – and was notoriously visited by Princess Diana, with Prince William and Kate Middleton who also included a visit during their royal tour of India in 2016.
The attraction is open all year round and is especially popular at sunset when pink skies add an extra dose of magic to the scenery.
But how much do you know about the iconic landmark?
Let’s take a look at eight interesting facts about the Taj Mahal …
(Oh, and if you want to get a taste of what it looks like, there are many virtual tours that offer a glimpse of the landmark.)
1. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
2. Mumtaz Mahal was originally buried in Burhanpur, where he died, but this was not intended as his last resting place. In 1663 her body was sintered and taken to Agra, where she was buried in a small building on the banks of the Yamuna river. (The Taj Mahal is located on the same banks of the river).
3. The Taj Mahal took over 22 years to complete, from the white marble domed building to the landscaped gardens and water features.
4. Taj Mahal means “Palace of the Crown” in Urdu.
5. The outer dome measures just over 44 meters in height, while the inner dome reaches just over 24 meters.
6. In 1983 the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been (and still is) described by the organization as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of world heritage”.
7. The domes of the monument are particularly popular with visitors, as are the fascinating tomb chambers. Meanwhile, the “Paradise Gardens” are the places where the iconic gardens and water features are located.
8. It is possible to visit the monument at night. However, these slots only appear for five nights a month; a full moon night and the two nights before and after. However, authorities are trying to change the rules to add more night visits for tourists.