Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Becky. Becky Wonders, “Why was the Taj Mahal built?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Becky!
Let's solve a riddle! What do leaves, mood rings, and the Taj Mahal have in common?
Here's a hint: We can add chameleons to the list.
That's right, every item on the list changes colors!
Wait, isn't the Taj Mahal a building? You might wonder how a building can change colors. We did, too!
The Taj Mahal (meaning "Crown of the Palaces") is a palace in northern India. It's built of white marble set with jade, sapphire, and turquoise stones. As the position of the sun changes throughout the day, light hits the stones in different ways. This makes it seem to change colors.
People who visit the Taj Mahal in the morning see a pink tint. At noon, its color is bright white. Visitors at night say the Taj Mahal has a hint of gold. Still, others who visit on foggy days say the palace seems nearly transparent!
Who built the Taj Mahal? In the early 1600s, a man named Shah Jahan ruled northern India. He loved his wife, whom he called Mumtaz Mahal (means "Chosen One of the Palace"). Legend says Shah Jahan told his wife he would build her the greatest tomb in the world. When Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631, Shah Jahan ordered builders to create the Taj Mahal.
Over 20,000 people and 1,000 elephants worked on the project for twenty-two years. By 1653, Shah Jahan had spent 32 million rupees to build the Taj Mahal. That would be 70 billion rupees (over one billion US dollars) today!
Shah Jahan buried Mumtaz Mahal far underground under the Taj Mahal's dome. When Shah Jahan died a few years later, his children buried him next to his wife. Soon after, Shah Jahan's empire fell apart.
For two centuries, no one took care of the Taj Mahal. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, British soldiers stole many of the valuable stones from its walls. The Taj Mahal's condition got worse until the Indian government cleaned and restored it at the end of the 19th century.
Today, the Taj Mahal is one of the most popular tourist locations in the world. Over three million people visit it every year! The United Nations made the Taj Mahal a World Heritage site in 1983. The palace was even named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
However, air pollution has put the Taj Mahal's future in danger. The Indian government is taking steps to protect the palace. With more care, the Taj Mahal could awe visitors with its color-changing tricks for many years!