I went to see the world’s most beautiful monument today.
The Taj Mahal.
I have never seen anything in the world that is so beautiful! It really is something special. Having lived in India for most of my childhood, I had never visited the Taj Mahal, still not sure why. But looking at it now, I really wish I had. It’s funny how you ignore things in your own backyard eh?
After two brilliant days in Delhi (post here and here), we decided to get out of Delhi and make the trip to Agra. I wasn’t impressed with the 5 am start but this was going to be worth it. This trip was also special to me because it was the first time, in a very long time that I got to spend some quality time with Jacob and Aanchal. It’s not easy to catch up very often when you live 4200 miles away!
Three hours (and a long nap) later, we were here – The Taj Mahal. We couldn’t have been more excited! I was at one of the wonders of the world with three of my favourite people in the world – today was definitely going to be a good day.
We entered through the main gate which is a beautiful red sandstone structure inlaid with white marble and semi precious stones, a sign of things to come. It’s beautiful how you can’t see the structure before you actually walk through the gate. All you can see is a glimpse of the white marble doors of the Taj Mahal until you actually walk past the gates.
And then you see it, The Taj Mahal in all its glory.
I really wish I could pen down how I felt when I first saw it, words just don’t do the Taj Mahal justice. This white marble edifice is truly stunning. You can sense the almost magical aura of this structure, which appears as though it is floating. If it has a breathtaking effect from afar, it becomes truly mind-blowing when having a closer look.
We didn’t waste any time and got right down to business – taking as many photos as the camera memory card could handle.
I even did the cheesy ‘pick up the building with your fingertips’ pose!
We obviously had to get a picture at the world famous ‘Princess Diana bench’ in front of the Taj Mahal. I found it quite extraordinary how this bench is now called the Princess Diana bench, unofficially of course; since that famous photograph way back in 1992.
A lot of people don’t realise that the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Yes, the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, but the the Mughal gardens, the Mosque and the other structures are just as beautiful.
Something a lot of people don’t realise about this UNESCO World Heritage site is that it’s actually a mausoleum. It was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal when she died during the birth of their 14th child Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and only completed 20 years later in 1652. Looking this pretty takes time! 🙂
We walked through the extensive gardens till we got to the white edifice. The sheer scale of this building is jaw dropping – you can’t help but feel small in front of this massive structure.
Photography isn’t allowed inside the mausoleum unfortunately where the tomb of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal are placed. Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves. Hence, the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan were put in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber and what you see when you walk in is actually a cenotaph for the king and queen inlaid with some absolutely stunning precious and semi precious gemstones.
But we did take pictures of the intricate Pieta dura work on the outside though. The semi precious stones inlays are stunning, the amount of work that has gone into every minute leaf or flower is mind blowing. Marble from the Makrana region in northwestern India was used to build the Taj Mahal and is unique for its translucency – if you shine a torch light through the marble, the semi precious stones glow. I would definitely recommend carrying a torch with you if you visit the Taj Mahal- we actually tried this and were absolutely awe struck by what we saw!
We continued going snap happy taking it all in. We were in one of the most beautiful monuments in the world after all!
The four minarets that frame the Taj Mahal were constructed slightly outside of the plinth so that, in the event of collapse, (a typical occurrence with many tall constructions of the period) the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb. Smart!
Cue Aanchal’s cheesy pic! 🙂
The Taj Mahal is built on the banks of the river Yamuna and I couldn’t imagine wondering how amazing it would be, if the longstanding myth that Shah Jahan planned to build a black Taj Mahal from black marble across the river were actually true! Unfortunately he was deposed as king by his own son Aurangzeb before he could start construction.
All the walking around in the hot Indian summer was tiring so we decided to take a break and cool off under one of the intricately decorated domes of the Taj Mahal.
No we don’t normally wear matching white cloth bags on our feet, if you were wondering. Those bags are to minimise damage to the intricate pieta dura work on the floors. Definitely not fashionable! 🙂
Before we knew it, it was time to leave Agra and the beautiful Taj Mahal. A quick horse carriage ride back to our car and it was time to say goodbye to the world’s most beautiful monument.
You need to see the Taj Mahal at lease once before you die, it’s one of those things that needs to go onto everybody’s bucket list. I know that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but the Taj really is beauty personified. You can’t not fall in love with the Taj Mahal.