Tejo Mahalaya is a controversial theory that suggests that the Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic landmarks in India, was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva, rather than a mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The theory is based on various architectural and historical analyses, as well as a number of legends and myths associated with the Taj Mahal.
Proponents of the theory argue that the Taj Mahal's architecture and design bear striking similarities to Hindu temple architecture, including its foundation, layout, and the presence of several Hindu symbols and motifs. They also point to historical records that suggest the site was originally known as "Tejo Mahalaya," which they claim was a reference to a Shiva temple that stood on the site before it was demolished by the Mughals.
However, the theory is highly controversial and has been widely disputed by scholars and historians, who argue that there is no credible evidence to support the claim that the Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu temple. They point to the abundance of historical records that describe the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan, as well as the absence of any archaeological evidence that suggests the presence of a temple on the site before the Taj Mahal was built.
Despite the controversy, the Tejo Mahalaya theory continues to be a popular topic of debate among scholars, historians, and the general public in India and around the world.
History of Tejo Mahalaya
The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum located in the city of Agra in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who had died during the birth of their 14th child.
Construction of the Taj Mahal took over 20 years and employed thousands of artisans, architects, and laborers from across the Mughal Empire and beyond. The design of the monument is a blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic architectural styles, with intricate carvings, intricate calligraphy, and delicate inlay work featuring precious stones such as lapis lazuli, jade, and turquoise.
After Shah Jahan's death, he was buried next to his wife in the Taj Mahal's main chamber, which is surrounded by four smaller chambers and a central dome. The monument quickly became a symbol of the Mughal Empire's power and wealth, and it remains one of the most iconic landmarks in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, the Taj Mahal has faced numerous challenges, including damage from natural disasters, air pollution, and overcrowding by tourists. In recent years, conservation efforts have been undertaken to protect the monument and its surrounding environment, including restricting visitor numbers and reducing pollution levels.
Signification of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is widely regarded as one of the world's most beautiful buildings and a symbol of India's rich cultural heritage. It has a deep significance in Indian history and culture, as well as in the Islamic world.
The monument was built as a tomb for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and it represents the pinnacle of Mughal architecture and art. The Taj Mahal is considered to be a masterpiece of symmetry, with its four minarets and central dome creating a perfect balance and harmony.
The use of white marble and precious stones, combined with intricate carvings and calligraphy, reflects the wealth and opulence of the Mughal Empire at its height. The building also has a strong spiritual significance, with its symmetrical design and Islamic-inspired motifs reflecting the Mughal belief in the balance and harmony of the universe.
In addition to its cultural and historical significance, the Taj Mahal is also an important economic driver for the city of Agra and the surrounding region, attracting millions of visitors each year and generating income for local businesses and communities.
Architecture of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, blending elements from Indian, Persian, and Islamic architectural styles. The monument is made entirely of white marble, with intricate carvings and inlay work featuring precious stones such as lapis lazuli, jade, and turquoise.
The Taj Mahal's design is a perfect example of symmetry, with its four minarets, central dome, and surrounding structures all arranged in precise balance. The main chamber, which contains the tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, is surrounded by four smaller chambers and a central dome.
The building's facades feature intricate calligraphy and floral motifs, with passages from the Quran inscribed in calligraphy throughout the monument. The inlay work on the exterior of the Taj Mahal is particularly impressive, with delicate patterns and designs created from thousands of semi-precious stones.
Inside, the Taj Mahal features intricate carvings and calligraphy, with elaborate floral patterns and geometric designs adorning the walls and ceilings. The tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are placed in the center of the main chamber, with detailed marble carvings surrounding them.
Overall, the Taj Mahal's architecture is a testament to the skill and artistry of the Mughal Empire's craftsmen and artists, and it remains one of the world's most iconic and impressive buildings.
Festivals of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is not a place of worship and does not have any religious festivals associated with it. However, there are several cultural festivals and events that take place in the vicinity of the monument throughout the year, including:
- Taj Mahotsav: This is an annual 10-day festival held in February that celebrates India's rich cultural heritage with music, dance, and food from different regions of the country.
- Ram Barat: This is a grand procession held in October that features a wedding procession for Lord Rama, complete with colorful floats and traditional music and dance.
- Urs: This is a Sufi festival that commemorates the death anniversary of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. It is celebrated in the nearby city of Ajmer in Rajasthan and attracts thousands of devotees.
- Diwali: The festival of lights is celebrated across India in October or November, and the city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is no exception. The monument is often lit up with colorful lights during the Diwali celebrations.
- Holi: The festival of colors is celebrated in March across India, and Agra is no exception. Many people come to the city to celebrate Holi and take part in the colorful festivities.
Visiting hours of Taj Mahal
The visiting hours of the Taj Mahal vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week. The monument is open to visitors every day of the week except for Fridays, which is when it is closed for prayers. The general visiting hours are as follows:
Summer (April to September)
- Sunrise to sunset (6:00 AM to 7:00 PM), except for Fridays
Winter (October to March)
- Sunrise to sunset (6:30 AM to 6:30 PM), except for Fridays
Night viewing of the Taj Mahal is also available for a limited number of visitors on five nights each month, including the full moon night and two nights before and after it. Night viewing is not available on Fridays, during the month of Ramadan, or on the day before and after the moonless night. The night viewing timings are from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM and visitors are allowed to stay for a maximum of 30 minutes inside the monument.
Dress code of Taj Mahal
There is no specific dress code for visiting the Taj Mahal, but visitors are expected to dress conservatively and respectfully. This means that clothing should cover the shoulders, chest, and knees. Shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless tops are not recommended, and shoes must be removed before entering the monument. It's also advisable to wear comfortable shoes as visitors will be walking on marble floors, which can be slippery. Additionally, hats and sunglasses are recommended for sun protection, especially during the summer months when temperatures can be very high.
Poojas and rituals of Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is not a temple or a place of worship, so there are no poojas or rituals associated with it. However, visitors are allowed to offer flowers or garlands at the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, which is located inside the monument. This can be done as a sign of respect and remembrance for the beloved queen, whose memory the Taj Mahal was built to honor. Visitors are also welcome to take a moment of silence to pay their respects to Mumtaz Mahal and her husband, Emperor Shah Jahan, who is buried next to her. However, it is important to maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor while inside the monument.
Accommodation Near Taj Mahal
There are many accommodation options available near the Taj Mahal, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels. Some of the popular hotels near the Taj Mahal include:
- The Oberoi Amarvilas
- The Taj Gateway Hotel
- ITC Mughal, A Luxury Collection Hotel
- Trident Agra
- Jaypee Palace Hotel & Convention Centre
Most of these hotels are located within a few kilometers of the Taj Mahal and offer excellent views of the monument. Many of them also provide shuttle services to the Taj Mahal, making it easy for guests to visit the monument without worrying about transportation. It is advisable to book accommodation in advance, especially during the peak tourist season (October to March), as rooms can fill up quickly.
Attraction Near Taj Mahal
There are many attractions located near the Taj Mahal that visitors can explore during their visit. Some of the popular attractions include:
- Agra Fort: Located just 2.5 kilometers from the Taj Mahal, this historic fort was the residence of the Mughal emperors until 1638.
- Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb: This beautiful tomb, also known as the Baby Taj, is located about 4 kilometers from the Taj Mahal and is known for its intricate marble work.
- Mehtab Bagh: This garden complex is located on the opposite bank of the Yamuna River, offering a stunning view of the Taj Mahal at sunset.
- Fatehpur Sikri: This abandoned Mughal city is located about 40 kilometers from the Taj Mahal and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Wildlife SOS: This animal rescue center is located about 20 kilometers from the Taj Mahal and offers visitors the opportunity to see rescued elephants up close and learn about their conservation efforts.
- Chini ka Rauza: This is a mausoleum of the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan is made of china clay tiles, located approximately 2.5 kilometers from the Taj Mahal.
- Jama Masjid: A mosque, located about 4 kilometers from the Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan.
These attractions offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region, and are definitely worth exploring during a visit to the Taj Mahal.
Things To Do In Taj Mahal
There are several things to do when visiting the Taj Mahal. Here are some of the most popular:
- Admire the Taj Mahal's beauty: The Taj Mahal is renowned for its stunning beauty and grandeur. Visitors can take their time to appreciate its intricate design and the details of the ornate marble carvings.
- Take photographs: The Taj Mahal is a popular destination for photographers, and visitors are encouraged to take plenty of pictures to capture their experience.
- Take a guided tour: Visitors can take a guided tour of the Taj Mahal to learn about its history and architecture. Guides can provide interesting information and stories that visitors might not otherwise hear.
- Watch the sunrise or sunset: Many visitors enjoy visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise or sunset to see the changing colors of the sky reflected on the white marble of the Taj.
- Explore the gardens: The gardens surrounding the Taj Mahal are beautifully landscaped and offer a peaceful place to relax and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
- Visit the Taj Museum: The Taj Museum, located within the Taj Mahal complex, houses a collection of artifacts related to the Taj's history and construction.
- Visit the nearby attractions: As mentioned earlier, there are several attractions located near the Taj Mahal that are worth exploring, such as the Agra Fort and Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb.
Overall, visitors to the Taj Mahal can expect a memorable and awe-inspiring experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Best Time To Visit Taj Mahal
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is from October to March, which is considered the winter season in India. During this time, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 25°C (46°F to 77°F) and the humidity is low. The cool weather makes it easier for visitors to explore the Taj Mahal and its surrounding gardens comfortably without feeling too hot or sweaty. Moreover, the clear skies during this time make for beautiful photographs of the Taj Mahal.
However, it is important to note that this is also the peak tourist season in Agra, so the Taj Mahal can get crowded during this time. To avoid crowds, it is recommended to visit the Taj Mahal early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Additionally, it is best to avoid visiting the Taj Mahal during the summer months from April to June when temperatures can soar up to 45°C (113°F), making it very uncomfortable to explore the monument.
How To Reach Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, and is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
By Air: The nearest airport to Taj Mahal is the Agra Airport, which is about 13 km away from the monument. The airport is well-connected to major cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.
By Train: Agra has four railway stations, with the Agra Cantonment Railway Station being the most convenient for travelers. The station is well-connected to major cities in India, such as Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai.
By Road: Agra is well-connected by road to major cities in India, such as Delhi, Jaipur, and Lucknow. The journey from Delhi to Agra takes around 3-4 hours by car, and there are several buses that operate between the two cities.
Once you reach Agra, you can hire a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or take a bus to reach the Taj Mahal. The monument is located in the heart of the city, and it is easy to reach from any part of Agra.
What is the entry fee for Taj Mahal?
The entry fee for the Taj Mahal varies for Indian and foreign tourists. Indian tourists have to pay INR 50, while foreign tourists have to pay INR 1300. Children under the age of 15 years do not have to pay any entry fee.
Can I visit Taj Mahal at night?
Yes, the Taj Mahal is open for night viewing on five days in a month, except on Fridays and during the month of Ramadan. The timings for night viewing are from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, and visitors are allowed to spend up to 30 minutes inside the monument.
How long does it take to visit Taj Mahal?
The average time taken to visit the Taj Mahal is around 2-3 hours. However, the duration of the visit may vary depending on factors such as the crowd, weather conditions, and personal preferences.
Is photography allowed inside the Taj Mahal?
Yes, photography is allowed inside the Taj Mahal. However, visitors are not allowed to use tripods or other stabilizing equipment, and drone photography is strictly prohibited.
Are there any restrictions on what I can carry inside the Taj Mahal?
Yes, visitors are not allowed to carry any food items or chewing gum inside the Taj Mahal. Mobile phones, cameras, and other electronic devices are allowed, but visitors are not allowed to use them inside the mausoleum. Additionally, visitors are not allowed to carry any large bags or backpacks inside the monument.
Is the Taj Mahal closed on any particular day?
The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, and visitors are not allowed to enter the monument on this day. However, the Taj Mahal is open on all other days of the week, including weekends and public holidays.
Can I enter the Taj Mahal without a guide?
Yes, visitors are allowed to explore the Taj Mahal on their own, without the assistance of a guide. However, hiring a guide can be beneficial as they can provide valuable insights into the history and architecture of the monument.
Is there a dress code for visiting the Taj Mahal?
Yes, there is a dress code for visitors to the Taj Mahal. Visitors are required to dress modestly, and clothing that covers the shoulders, arms, and legs is recommended. Shorts, sleeveless tops, and tight-fitting clothing are not allowed inside the monument.