Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for himself and his principal wife, the Taj Mahal sits on the south bank of the Yamuna river, approximately 2km downstream from the Red Fort at Agra (map). Directly across the river from the Taj, Shah Jahan built a Mahtab Bagh ( "Moonlight Garden", now largely overgrown), giving it exactly the same dimensions as the Taj itself. This photo shows the Taj Mahal as viewed from across the river, just downstream from the Moonlight Garden, late in the afternoon, with the setting sun on its west face and its north face in shadow. The Taj is flanked by a pair of large sandstone buildings. The one on the west (photo right) was a mosque; its twin (jawab, "duplicate") on the east side was added for reasons of symmetry. The jawab's practical function (if any) is unknown.
Buried in the Taj Mahal are Shah Jahan and his principal wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who predeceased him by 35 years. (The name "Taj Mahal" is a corruption of "Mumtaz Mahal".) The actual burials are underneath the main floor. They are marked on the main floor by cenotaphs, as is usual in Islamic funerary monuments. Thus, the Taj Mahal is, technically, a mausoleum which contains the two tombs and their cenotaphs.
Two legends have persisted about this monument which it is well to correct. First is the romantic story that Shah Jahan built the Taj as a memorial to his beloved wife. It is true that he was fond of his wife, but Shah Jahan planned and built the Taj for himself. Naturally, since his wife died before him, she was buried there first. (In fact, she died in 1629 and was not interred there until the building was completed in 1643.)
The second legend refers to a so-called "Black Taj" which was allegedly to have been built on the site of the Moonlight Garden as Shah Jahan's own tomb, reserving the Taj Mahal for his wife. This story is considered, by archaeologists who have worked there, to have no basis in fact.