Taj Mahal – Agra – India

I had the chance to visit India and the first thing I did was make sure I made time to visit Agra, mainly to see the Taj Mahal. I won’t go in to the history or the significance of the place – no need to repeat everything that is written everywhere else. I did a day trip and I regret not staying the night to stay longer and also to do the sunrise and sunset tour. I would go again just to see it again. It was heart stopping… so beautiful that I had to stop a few times and just take it all in. Its a tourist trap, there were boat loads of people, it was a zoo, but it was worth every second it took me to get there… so go and see it for yourself. And yes its perhaps best seen first thing in the morning when there are fewer people. There is a reason why its famous…

My day started very early in New Delhi, to safe time I hired a car to take me on a tour to the Taj Mahal and Agra.

The sun rises and its going to be a sunny day… Its a long drive… I think it was like 3 to 4 hours or so… one way. img_0360

After entering Agra we headed to the East gate of the Taj Mahal, it was lined with some high end hotels, like the Oberoi Hotel and a Taj Hotel. I would have liked to stay at the Oberoi, but its expensive… so next time I will save up just to stay there. Once you get close you have to take a electric cart that takes to up to the gates of the Taj Mahal. The gardens start to show and the city sounds and energy vanishes to a halt and the peaceful bubble that is the Taj Mahal experience begins. The gates begins to foreshadow what is to come. img_0363

The gate it self is a work of art. The intricate art work covers every corner. A stream of people are like moths to a flame in the dark….img_0367

Then the first view of the Taj Mahal. It hits you… its proportions are perfect. The beauty of the white marble and the way it shines is hypnotic.  The dome seems to float, It seems almost as large as the building itself. This is the view where the famous optical illusion starts. When you first see the Taj Mahal, it looks larger because its framed by the gateway arch, then it begins to shrink. img_0368

As you get to the middle of the gate and closer to the main garden, the Taj Mahal seems too move back and shrink, this is the first time one can see the Main building and the four minarets. The symmetry and the first full view again stops you in your tracks, again its just pleasing to look at. I am sure the art work in the gate itself was worth a look but… I am drawn to the white marble.  img_0371

The illusions final step… now the Taj looks smaller than ever, its seems after you were given a close and intimate preview of its grandeur it runs back where you have to again earn the chance to see it again with a long walk to learn to appreciate it. Even with the restoration work going on it was still worth the trip.   img_0372-1

A compulsory tourist picture. img_0372

A must selfie situation.  img_0383

I was not able to get the famous reflection picture as the fountains were working. img_0384

I decided to walk off the main path and walk around and also get out of the sun. The view as good at any angle. img_0385img_0389

To enter the white marble area of the main building, you have to wear shoe covers. This is the view from the Taj looking at the entrance. I also regret I did not visit any of the surrounding buildings, I just did not have enough time as I had two other stops before driving back up to Delhi. img_0391

They tell you about marble inlay, but I was not ready for what I was going to see all day. The amount of skill, time, money it takes to do the marble inlay is mind boggling. img_0392

I take a seat to just take it all in. After enjoying the art work on the out side. I tour the inside the Taj, you can’t take pictures inside. Well the art work is even more intense inside… but it is a zoo, there are guards screaming at tourists to move along as its really crowded, not to mention stopping people from taking pictures of the tomb’s interior.  There was no way that I was going to hear the “Sound of Infinity”…. img_0394

After touring the inside, I sit again to to take it all in. I again reaffirm my liking of all things marble. img_0396

On my way back to the entrance to leave the Taj Mahal, I stop by the ‘Diana Bench’ made famous by the Princess of Wales. Its was told by a very credible source which bench is the true Diana Bench, This is it, and yes I took a selfie.img_0400

I take another selfie to get the Taj in my back ground. I sat there for a while, and enjoyed my view and watched a ton of people pass by. I found it strange that the tour guides were telling visitors that another bench was the Diana Bench, so all these people were sitting on the wrong one and taking pictures. But after sitting there for a while, I understood why that was the case. img_0402

It so happens that its just logistically almost impossible to get the same picture on the Diana bench as one person would have to sit on the bench and the person taking the picture would have to be on the other side of the center reflection pool and take a picture. There are just too many people there. I got a few shots with the Taj and the bench with my wide angle lens but hardly the perfect picture.  img_0403

While I was on the bench there was another couple who knew the real bench and the wife sat down and the husband ran around the pool as seen below to take a picture. I also walk around to take the shot. As you can see there is a lady sitting on the bench alone. This is the true Diana Bench picture.  img_0406

View as I depart…. img_0407

Really my last two shots of the Taj. img_0410img_0412

Then it was time to head over to Fort Agra. Its worth a visit. There are some interesting building like how some of them had cooling systems built-in. Again the art work is everywhere.  img_0419img_0420

The royal residential sections again are filled with marble inlay. img_0427

White marble everywhere. img_0429

This the the fort entry, with its signature red stone. img_0433

My last stop before heading back to Delhi was the Tomb of I’timad ud Daulah. Much smaller in scale but more elaborate with its marble inlay. There were much less visitors so the visit was a much more calm and peaceful visit. Again the gate is worthy of attention on its own, but again it plays only a supporting role to the main tomb. img_0434img_0435

Much smaller but still impressive. img_0436

A selfie. img_0437

The closer you get the details begin to show…img_0438

Every inch is covered in marble inlay… that patterns and artwork… leaves you speechless. img_0440img_0439img_0441

Full view, like most gardens and tombs everything was symmetrical, including the gardens and surrounding buildings. img_0443img_0444

What ever anyone says, its worth it. I want to go back…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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