| ||The Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1653 on the orders of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as a memorial to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal (“chosen of the palace”),who died giving birth to their fourteenth child. The total height of the tomb is 243 feet (74 m), and it overlooks the Yamuna Riverin Agra, in northern India. This white marble mausoleum, adornedwith fine carvings and inlays of semiprecious stones representing Koranic verses and floral and geometric motifs, was created by about 30 architects and 20,000 workers. The building was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983. In the twentieth century the building began to show the effects of industrial pollution. In 1993, 212 factories in Agra were shut down in order to preserve the structure’s whiteness, which in the Muslim faith symbolizes the purity of thesoul. India has 138 million Muslim inhabitants, making it the fourt-largest Muslim nation after Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the world after Indonesia. Thecountry’s majority religion is Hinduism, which is practicedby 80 percent of the population. The approximately 900 million Hindi in India represent nearly all of the world’s devotees of this religion, which is the third-largest on Earth.
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