8 Taj Mahal facts including the tragic reason why it was built in the first place

The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most famous landmarks.

Located in Agra, northern India, the spectacular white marble dome and its picturesque gardens may resemble a huge palace, but they were actually built as a mausoleum in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife.

Nowadays the landmark attracts approximately eight million visitors every year – and it was famously visited by Princess Diana, with Prince William and Kate Middleton also including a visit during their royal tour of India in 2016.

The attraction is open year-round, and is particularly popular at sunset when the pink skies add an extra dose of magic to the scenery.

But how much do you know about the iconic landmark?

We 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 plenty of virtual tours offering a glimpse of the landmark).

Taj Mahal

1. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

2. Mumtaz Mahal was originally buried in Burhanpur, where she died, but this was not intended as her final resting spot. In 1663 her body was disinterred and brought to Agra, where she was buried in a small building on the banks of the river Yamuna. (The Taj Mahal sits on the same banks of the river).

3. It took over 22 years for the Taj Mahal to be completed, from the white marble dome building to the landscaped gardens and water features.

4. Taj Mahal means ‘Crown Palace’ in Urdu.

5. The outer dome measures just over 44 metres in height, while the inner dome reaches just over 24 metres.

6. In 1983 the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was (and still is) described by the organisation as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

7. The monument’s domes are particularly popular with visitors, as well as the fascinating tomb chambers. Meanwhile the ‘Paradise Gardens’ are where you’ll find the iconic gardens and water features.

8. It’s possible to visit the monument at night-time. However, these slots only appear for five nights a month; a full moon night as well as the two nights before and after. However, authorities are looking to change the rules to add more night-time visits for tourists.