Rooftop view of the Taj Mahal, Agra, India 11 Dec 2016
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Twenty thousand labourers were involved in the construction of the Taj Mahal, including sculptors, calligraphers and artists from as far afield as Syria, Iran and Baluchistan (one of four provinces in Pakistan). One thousand elephants were involved in transporting building materials to the site, and precious stones were brought from China, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to be used in the inlay. An elaborate brick scaffold was built to mirror the shape of the tomb; when foremen voiced their concern at the length of time this would take to dismantle, Shah Jahan decreed that whoever took the bricks could keep them, and the scaffold disappeared overnight. The green lawns that dominate the garden are a British addition; having defaced the Taj during the Uprising, and reputedly even having planned to dismantle it and sell off the marble, Lord Curzon decided to right the wrongs of his predecessors and ordered a wholesale restoration project, completed in 1908.
Discover the Taj Mahal's venerable beauty for yourself, by travelling on Insight Guides' The Essential Golden Triangle trip, which also takes in Delhi and the pink city of Jaipur.