This is one of the world’s best known mausoleums and probably one of India’s most iconic monuments. Almost every single celebrity or world leader who has visited India has a picture with the Taj Mahal in the background. So really, it would have been blasphemous if I did not dedicate a single post to it.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal almost entirely out of white marble. The marble is inlaid with precious and semi precious stones (some of which have inevitably been stolen). However, despite vandalism and acid rain, the Taj Mahal remains incredibly beautiful. The tomb itself, the symmetry in the inscriptions, the inlay work and the gardens set around it are all lovely! However, what fascinated me the most are the minarets. They are very symmetrical and are constructed in such a manner that, in the event of a collapse (say because of an earthquake), they would fall away from the tomb!
Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principle designer of this tomb. Go visit!
Getting There: Its very easy to reach Agra from Delhi. There are many trains and the Yamuna Expressway which connects Greater Noida (a sort of suburb of Delhi) and Agra is a dream to drive on. The toll is hefty but more than worth it (unlike NH8 which leads to Jaipur): Rupees 320 for a one way trip and Rupees 510 for a round trip.