India at a Glance
Taj Tour Guide
The Taj Mahal Main Gateway
Height: 93 Ft High
Period of Construction: 1632-1638
The main gateway of Taj Mahal, which looks more like a building than a gate, is a spectacular piece of architecture. This massive red sandstone gate is inlaid with white marble, Arabic calligraphy from the Holy Quran and the floral design of precious stones. The doors are made up of precious metals. The original door of the gateway was made out of the solid silver and there are letters inscribed on it from top to bottom. The gateway is topped by small cupolas or chhatris. The Gateway of the Taj Mahal is a structure of great importance because of its function, size and majesty and beauty as compared to the building and the mausoleum. The actual function of this magnificent gateway was to prevent people from getting any glimpse of the tomb inside until they are right in the doorway itself. The minute you enter the open square before the main entrance, you will be surprised to find the Taj Mahal disappear from your sight. The gate and forecourt in the front of it was designed to be the transition zone between the Mumtazabad and the serenity of the tomb complex.
The Tomb of Taj Mahal
The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. This large, white marble structure stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin. The octagonal hall contains eight niches on each of the two storey which are equal in size but differ in their elevation. All eight niches are ornamented with flower patterns followed by multi-cusped blind arches. The niches are topped by inlaid flowers within the frames of the inscriptions while the niches on the second floor have only the blind arches and rectangular frameworks. The two floors are bordered with a large line of inscription from the Quran. Some of the niches on both floors are covered only with jalis. The floor is patterned geometrically with the border of lobed cartouches in black and white marbles. The naturalistic flower vases are the perfect decoration for the symbolism of the paradise.
The lower Tomb chamber is a rectangular room and is simpler than the above. The graves are similar to the upper cenotaphs but decorated with different motifs. The platform of the lower cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal is almost without any decoration. The upper surface is decorated with the inscriptions of Quran and the sides of the cenotaph are covered with the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of Allah inside cartouches. The epigraph at the foot end is the same with the upper cenotaphs.
Taj Mahal by Night
Taj Mahal looks mesmerizing on a full moon night. When the sun is down, rays of the moon light up the entire monument and lend it a faint silvery glow. It gleams like a polished diamond under the moonlit sky.The Taj opens for night viewing on the full moon nights every month and two nights before and two night after. The night viewing is opened for four hours from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, for maximum of 400 people per day divided into eight batches of 50 people for duration of 30 minutes only.Night viewing of the Taj Mahal is closed in the month of Ramzan and on every Friday.