What Is the Importance of the Taj Mahal?

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Appearing in several lists of world wonders, the Taj Mahal is not only one of the largest tourist attractions in India, it is also the most well-known example of Mughal architecture. Sometimes described as “the most famous tomb in the world,” it reflects the pride and identity of Indian Muslims as an example of the achievements of the age of Mughal rule, a period of progress and stability considered a high point in India’s cultural history. According to UNESCO, the tomb is recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India.”

The tomb, which is taller than a modern 20-story building, was completed around 1653 after more than two decades of construction work. It was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631. The Taj Mahal’s design incorporates elements of Islamic, Turkish, Persian and Indian architecture. The white marble of the structure takes on subtle variations of tint and tone at different times of the day. Pollution, however, has been yellowing the white marble and the Indian government has enforced a 4,000-square-mile area, the Taj Trapezium Zone, around the structure with strict emissions standards. Located in the city of Agra, on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the Taj Mahal was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.