Agra, western Uttar Pradesh.
Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal. It is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Ottoman, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." It is an integrated symmetric complex of structures that was completed around 1648. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer of the Taj Mahal.
The focus of the Taj Mahal is the white marble tomb, which stands on a square plinth consisting of a symmetrical building with an iwan, an arch-shaped doorway, topped by a large dome. Like most Mughal tombs, basic elements are Persian in origin. The base structure is a large, multi-chambered structure. The base is essentially a cube with chamfered edges and is roughly 55 meters on each side. On the long sides, a massive pishtaq, or vaulted archway, frames with a similar arch-shaped balcony. On either side of the main arch, additional pishtaqs are stacked above and below. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on chamfered corner areas as well. The design is completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets, one at each corner of the plinth, facing the chamfered corners, frame the tomb. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; their actual graves are at a lower level. The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest to be found in Mughal architecture. The calligraphy found are of florid thuluth script, created by Persian calligrapher Amanat Khan.
Masons, stonecutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome-builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia and Iran to build the monument. While bricks for internal constructions were locally prepared, white marble for external use in veneering work was obtained from Makrana in Rajasthan. Semi-precious stones for inlay ornamentation were brought from distant regions of India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Afghanistan. Red sandstone of different tints was requisitioned from the neighboring quarries of Fatehpur Sikri and Dholpur. It took 17 years for the Taj to be built.