The wonderful Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan who was so devoted to his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace), that he could not bear to be parted from her. He insisted that she accompany him everywhere, no matter what her state of health. While travelling with him on a military campaign, she died at the age of 39 giving birth to their 14th child. On her deathbed she asked the Emperor to show the world how much they loved one another. He neglected his affairs of state, concentrating on the construction of a magnificent memorial to her.
The romance of the world’s most famous building still astonishes in its power and beauty. The Indian poet Tagore wrote that the Taj Mahal was a “tear drop on the face of humanity, a building to echo the cry ‘I have not forgotten, I have not forgotten, O beloved.” Rudyard Kipling called it “the embodiment of all things pure.”
The Taj-i-Mahal (the Crown of the Palace) was started in 1632, taking 22,000 workers 22 years to complete. Nothing prepares you for the first sight of the real thing. The gleaming white marble pierces the blue sky in a vivid picturesque scene that assaults the eyes and immediately heightens all senses.
In the unique beauty of the Taj, subtlety is blended with grandeur and a massive overall design is matched with immaculately intricate execution. The white marble is extraordinarily luminescent and, during any one visit it is possible for the whole building to seemingly change its hue according to the light in the sky. The building has a mesmerising power.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
DAY 1: Depart overnight on flight to Delhi.
DAY 2: Morning arrival and transfer to your chosen hotel for 2 nights. Afternoon tour of Old Delhi with your guide to explore the area's dense network of bustling alleyways, homes, bazaars and mosques visiting famous Chandni Chowk market, the beautiful Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and Rajghat.
DAY 3: Delhi Morning tour of New Delhi, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is today home to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the Indian President, Rajpath and the imposing India Gate. Continue to the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and the Qutb Minar tower. Afternoon at leisure.
DAY 4: Morning private car transfer, or train journey, to Agra. Agra was once one of the world's majestic cities and an afternoon tour of Agra Fort established by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah.
DAY 5: Morning visit to the Taj Mahal. Afternoon at leisure.
DAY 6: Jaipur. On leaving Agra, visit Fatehpur Sikri, once the capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and constructed of beautiful red sandstone. Afterwards visit Abhaneri which is famed for its 8th century Chand Baori – the deepest step-well in the world – then continue your drive onto Jaipur. Jaipur is a vibrant city of bazaars, palaces, fine havelis and spectacular forts.
DAY 7: Jaipur. A morning visit to the superb City Palace complex which is home to the beautiful Peacock Gate and famous Hawa Mahal, or 'Palace of the Winds' and the Jantar Mantar – the largest stone observatory in the world. Optional lunch at the sumptuous Rambagh Palace.
DAY 8: Jaipur. A morning drive outside of Jaipur to the dramatically located Amber Fort set on a ridge above the rugged sounding hills. A Rajput capital for over 700 years, there is plenty to explore here from courtyard gardens and small temples to the private chambers of the Maharaja. Afternoon at leisure in Jaipur.
DAY 9: Drive to Delhi and transfer to your chosen hotel for 1 night with some time to relax.
DAY 10: Depart for London.