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A trip to Agra (home of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort) in India (starting from New Delhi) – Part 2 – The Taj Mahal




The Part 1 of this post (Road trip to Agra and Agra Fort) described a trip to Agra and a visit to the Agra Fort. This second part of this journey describes the visit to the Taj Mahal (I would have added Fatehpur Sikri, but covering the Taj Mahal deserves a post by itself, so Sikri is covered in the next post).
Given that the day on which we wanted to visit was Christmas (25th December), and a fairly busy day, we wanted to make an early start to avoid the crowd, and so we set off early from the hotel. There was parking available at some distance from the Taj complex, and we reached there around 9:15 AM. The queue was small, although there was a small hiccup when they objected to the USB cable that I was carrying for the camera, and I had to deposit the cable with the cloakroom; the camera was allowed (still cameras are allowed while video cameras are objectionable).

Location of the Taj Mahal on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

And so we entered the complex. In the beginning of the complex, you cannot see the white structured tomb, you are in a small lane with some trees and smaller structures on both sides that seem to be used as offices by the Archaeological Survey of India. You can see a Gateway, a tall structure through which you pass. As you move towards the Gateway, you can see the white marble construction of the tomb through the Gateway and finally start to get a glimpse of the structure that draws a huge number of crowds every year.

A zoomed image of the Taj Mahal as visible from the Agra Fort
A zoomed image of the Taj Mahal as visible from the Agra Fort

A glimpse of the Taj Mahal through the small outer gate
A glimpse of the Taj Mahal through the small outer gate

A diffused view of the outer gate of the Taj Mahal compound and a water fountain
A diffused view of the outer gate of the Taj Mahal compound and a water fountain

As you are crossing the Gateway, there is a huge rush to get a photo where people can pose with the Taj in the background; given the queue for this act, we decide to move on and not spend the 10 – 15 minutes needed to negotiate this queue as well. As soon as you cross the Gateway, you see a beautiful site, with water pools and fountains leading towards the structure of the Taj Mahal, and green lawns on either side. The whole appearance, seen in numerous photos, looks incredibly beautiful (the photographer in me was hoping for a chance to get a shot when there would not be a tourist visible, but no chance. The only way would have been to come at a time when tourists were not allowed (not possible), or to take numerous shots from the same location so that I could paint out each tourist one by one inside Photoshop Elements – I did not think that this worth the effort).

A view of the area in front of the Taj Mahal - greenery, fountains
A view of the area in front of the Taj Mahal – greenery, fountains

A large number of tourists in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra
A large number of tourists in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra

Another view of the Taj Mahal in Agra with a glimpse of buildings to either side
Another view of the Taj Mahal in Agra with a glimpse of buildings to either side

As you reach the complex of the wonderful white structure, you cannot help but admire the magnificence of such a construction, and the amount of love that would have been in the eyes of an emperor to construct such a monument in the memory of his dead wife (who died when bearing their 14th child). The Taj Mahal (description on Wikipedia) was constructed over a 22 year period by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dead wife Mumtaz Mahal, and is known the world over. The structure was started in 1632 and completed in 1653, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage monument (although it is under threat of damage from pollution). Shah Jahan was also famous for some of his other buildings such as the Red Fort in Delhi, and the extensions done to the Agra Fort, but construction of the Taj Mahal in white marble was a remarkable new effort at that point of time.
The main white structure of the Taj Mahal is built on a raised platform, and the actual tomb of the empress is in a lower section of the structure (now closed off to the public, with a fake tomb at the ground level); the body of the emperor is buried right next to the empress, and destroys the symmetry of the whole structure. There are 4 minarets surrounding the central dome, inclined slightly outward so that in the event of an earthquake, the minarets will fall away from the dome. Since the raised structure is actually a tomb where prayers are also held, it is forbidden to wear shoes. The complex is open from 9 AM – 7 PM, except on Friday when it is only open for 2 hours in the afternoon for Islamic prayers. During tourist seasons, there can be long queues to get inside the tomb so be prepared to wait, or go there early.

A beautiful angular view of the marble structure of the Taj Mahal
A beautiful angular view of the marble structure of the Taj Mahal

A side view of the Taj Mahal along with the raised platform on which it is built
A side view of the Taj Mahal along with the raised platform on which it is built

View of the side of the Taj Mahal along with the minaret to the side
View of the side of the Taj Mahal along with the minaret to the side

A minaret of the Taj Mahal, half in shade and half in light
A minaret of the Taj Mahal, half in shade and half in light

Next to the tomb, there are other structures, and the Yamuna is visible from the backside of the monument; however, consider the magnificence of the monument, most people will ignore the other structures and concentrate on the main monument. Next part of this series will contain the trip to Fatehpur Sikri.

An angular view of the Palace next to the Taj Mahal
An angular view of the Palace next to the Taj Mahal

The once majestic Yamuna river next to the Taj Mahal
The once majestic Yamuna river next to the Taj Mahal

Many more photos of the Agra trip at this location.




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