The Taj Mahal is a captivating place.

And not just because you can take some stunning photos there to delight your Facebook friends and Instagram followers (which we definitely did during our visit), but because it is filled with stories. Many contradict each other and some are even proven to be false, but I love the history of a place, including the history of its legends and tall tales.

Here are some of the stories that have been passed along about this famous monument.

A Temple for Shiva

Shiva is the god of both creation and destruction.

The biggest Taj Mahal conspiracy calls into question everything mainstream resources claim about it – including who built it, when and why.

Where the Taj Mahal is traditionally said to be an elaborate tomb, this theory states that it actually was built much earlier in history as a Hindu temple for Shiva. Later, as Islam became the religion of that region, an emperor took over the temple and tried to erase its religious past.

If you visit the Taj Mahal, you can find Hindu and Shiva symbols that might support this story.

A Fatal Contract

Many people claim that those who worked on the Taj Mahal were forbidden to ever work on a similar project going forward, but the darkest versions of this legend claim that workers were killed as soon as the building was completed to guarantee that construction secrets would never leak out.

The Black Twin

Similar black marble was later found on another site near the Taj Mahal. This rubble gave birth to stories that an identical monument was once in construction, but this one was intended to be all black instead of all white.

While I find the idea of this beautiful and intriguing, the theory has mostly been discredited by experts who say the marble was actually white years ago but has become dark and discolored over time.

The (Probably) True Story

The Taj Mahal was built for and named for Mumtaz Mahal.

Of course, the traditional story behind the Taj Mahal really needs no embellishment or conspiracy to make it interesting.

As a young teenager, Emperor Shah Jahan, a Muslim emperor in the 17th century, fell deeply in love with 13-year old Mumtaz Mahal. She was a Persian princess, and they eventually married.  Although he had 3 other wives, Mumtaz Mahal was his favorite. Together they had 14 children.

Tragically, she died during her final childbirth. Shah Jahn was devastated. Court records note that nothing could console him, saying his grief was like nothing seen before.

Although his religion discouraged it, Shah Jahan wanted to build his love a beautiful, unique, and eternal resting place – the Taj Mahal. It took 21 years to finally complete, and the equivalent of 827 million USD.

When Shah Jahan also passed away, he was also laid to rest in the impressive mausoleum next to his late wife.

Have you ever visited the Taj Mahal? Do any of the above stories ring true to you, or are some too far-fetched? Which is your favorite? Let us know below!