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Why was the Taj Mahal built?

In the early 17th century, a Mughal emperor named Shah Jehan ruled India. In 1612, he married a beautiful and intelligent princess called Mumtaz Mahal. He loved her deeply. According to a legend, the marvellous building of the Taj appeared to Mumtaz in a dream. She told Shah Jehan about it and expressed a wish that after her death such a building should be constructed as a symbol of their love. In the year 1631, Mumtaz died in childbirth in the town of Burhanpur. The emperor was so heartbroken that he decided to immortalise his love by building the most beautiful tomb that had ever been built. In order to do this, he summoned some of the best artists and architects not only from India but also from Persia, Central Asia, and European experts from France and Italy. Finally, with the initial design ready, the construction of the Taj started in 1632. More than 20,000 men spent around 22 years to complete the tomb and laying out its garden. It was built at a cost of 40 million rupees. The Taj Mahal complex, rectangular in shape, measures 580x304 metres. It stands on a 94 metres square marble plinth, which is 7 metres high. There are four minarets that stand on its four corners. The Taj itself rises to a height of 60 metres. It is an eightsided building made of white marble and was once inlaid with twelve kinds of semi-precious stones in floral design, as well as with marble inscriptions from the Koran. The building material was brought from many countries, including Arabia, Egypt, Tibet and different parts of India. In the basement of the building, the Begum and Shah Jehan lie buried. Their graves were decorated with precious stones. The emperor wanted to build an identical tomb of black marble for himself on the other bank of the river Yamuna. However, his son imprisoned him before he could construct the new mausoleum. Today, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most beautiful building in the world. As per the new list of seven wonders introduced on July 7, 2007, the Taj Mahal holds the first rank among all the wonders. Thousands of tourists from India and other countries come to see it every year. The beauty of the structure is especially breathtaking during the moonlit nights, with its white marble shining in diffused (spread out) light.

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