The Taj Mahal is a large mausoleum (tomb) built from entirely from marble stone, which gives the building a distinctive white colour. It is located within a large garden, next to a river, close to the city of Agra in India. The structure stands on a large square of immense block which is stands several meters above ground level. The sides of this block are long and straight, with shorter bevelled sections at each corner. The sides of the base are decorated with relief carvings. The design on the lower two thirds is of simplistic arch topped shapes that harmonise with the shapes of the building's door openings. The upper third is a repeated rectangle design, with the longer side of the rectangle creating the horizontal line.
On each of the four corners of the base stands a tall, narrow minaret tower, creating a perfect symmetry when the structure is viewed from any angle. The minarets are cylindrical columns, divided into thirds by a series of balconies that run around the circumference of tower. The balconies have ornamental supports beneath them, and there is abstract decorative work beneath, which resembles a vine with leaves. At the top of each minaret are tall arch top openings which support a small domed roof. The roof has an flat eight-sided trim and is topped with a finial made of two balls, the top one slightly smaller than the other, and an arrow shaped point.
In the centre of the base stands the tomb building. This has a huge arched opening which curves slightly at the top and meets at the apex in a point. Immediately above is a panel of embellishment with a very finely worked vine and leaf design similar to that on the minarets. It is has two main colours - red and blue. Above this and at each side of this doorway is a a single strip of stone decorated with intricate calligraphic writing. Set back several meters from this enormous archway is the true entrance. This is an exact replica of the opening just described, but on a smaller scale. The space which is empty in the first opening is filled with a grid of square latticework, with a doorway beneath. Above is a second opening with the same grid latticework. This entire central part of the building has an enormous domed roof which narrows to a point at the top and is accentuated with a finial, like those on the minaret towers.
The rest of the building maintains the idea of symmetry seen so far. Its overall shape could be described as a cube, with longer sides and chamfered corners. On each side of the main arched opening, there are two sets of arched doorways at floor level and two sets of arched balconies above. The doorway and balcony openings are approximately half the height each of the main arch. There is a small roofed structure on each of these corners. These roofs are supported by arched openings and echo the shape of the main roof, including the presence of a finial.