The Forecourt and Taj Ganj
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Most tombs of the Mughal era were designed to be entered through a court. The large forecourt at the Taj Mahal is surrounded by the same red sandstone wall which envelopes the main mausoleum.
In this wall are spaces for 128 shops which are separated by uniform pointed archways. There are many sandstone pavilions including the servant quarters situated in two far corners next to the garden. Two small royal tombs lie at both of the southern corners of the forecourt and these are accompanied by raised terraced gardens.
The area directly outside of the forecourt is known today as Taj Ganj. It was once a large teeming bazaar with stalls containing gems and other luxuries.
It is reputed that it was here that the young Shah Jahan first met Mumtaz Mahal whilst admiring jewels on her stall, which is why this space is also referred to as Mumtazabad.
Today, Taj Ganj is still bustling and colorful, if, a little less organized!