Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Taj Mahal, Sikandra, and Fatehpur Sikri: Photo 13
A few miles further: some visitors, like Aldous Huxley, have disliked the Taj Mahal--thought it gaudy. Others have avoided it for fear of crowds and touts. But it sits there--no, floats there--waiting. Perhaps it was built by Shah Jahan as a monument to his favorite wife, Taj Mahal ("crown of the palace") or, as she was also known, Mumtaz Mahal ("jewel of the palace"). She died at age 38 in 1631, after delivering her 14th child, and Shah Jahan's hair is supposed to have quickly gone gray. Some suggest, however, that the building was conceived as the tomb of the Ruler of the World, which is what "Shah Jahan" means. It just happens that Mumtaz died long before he did.
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