Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace" and is in fact the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. Agra, once the capital of the (Islamic) Mughal Empire during the 16th and early 19th centuries, is one and a half hours by express train from New Delhi, India. Tourists from all over the world come to see the Taj Mahal, to witness one of the richest examples of Islamic civilisation and beautiful archictectures. It isn't any wonder that the Taj Mahal is seen as one of the 7 wonders of the world.
The Mughals were the descendents of two of the most skilled warriors in history: the Turks and the Mongols. The Mughal dynasty reached its highest strength and fame during the reign of their early Emperors, Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jehan. The Mahal (Palace) was built as a tomb by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 (17th Century) in memory of his second wife, Arjumand Banu (also known as "Mumtaz Mahal" - the Distinguished of the Palace), a Muslim Persian princess. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa, and took 22 years to make. The Persian Empress used to accompany her husband in his military campaigns, and consequently died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur (in a campaign to crush a rebellion) after giving birth to their 14th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.
The Taj rises on a high red sandstone base topped by a huge white marble terrace on which rests the famous dome flanked by four tapering minarets. The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against the plain across the river and it is this background that works its magic of colours that, through their reflection, change the view of the Taj. At each corner is a minaret (prayer tower), and passages from the Qur'an, adorn the outside walls. The Taj has different elements in its compund, including a masjid, which is why it is being described here.