World Wonder Destination 6: River Agra, India
Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–58) to immortalize his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”). She died in childbirth in 1631, after having been the emperor's inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612. The name Taj Mahal is a corruption of her title. The plans for the complex have been attributed to various architects of the period, although the chief architect was probably Ustad Ahmad Lahawri, an Indian of Persian descent. The five principal elements of the complex—main gateway, garden, mosque, jawab, and mausoleum (including its four minarets)—were conceived and designed as a unified entity according to the tenets of Mughal building practice, which allowed no subsequent addition or alteration. More than 20,000 workers were employed from India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Europe to complete the mausoleum itself by about 1638–39; the adjunct buildings were finished by 1643, and decoration work continued until at least 1647. Construction of the 42-acre (17-hectare) complex spanned 22 years at a cost between four and five million rupees.