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A work of art: The Taj Mahal (Part Two)

The Taj Mahal.  The most famous structure in India.  Following on from part one, we’re now going to undertake a picturesque tour of inside the Taj Mahal.

Come with me, you will see, Shah Jahan’s (say it quickly) world of pure imagination …

Instructed by the Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan, the building began in 1632 and the complex was completed in 1953 as a memorial to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal (who bore him no less than thirteen children).  Her name means ‘beloved ornament of the palace‘.

The mausoleum is made of white marble brought in from Jodhpur, and is the ultimate display of Mughal architecture, combining Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.

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There are three entrances; north, east and west.  You buy your ticket in the ticket office (and get water and shoe covers thrown in), then head to your chosen gate to join the lengthy queues.

Taj Mahal through the main gate, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Taj Mahal through the main gate, Agra

No matter what gate you enter through, you’ll pass through the Great Gate (the Darwaza) and then get your first glimpse of the awesome mausoleum and the char bargh (four square garden).

Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Before going, I did a bit of research for photography hints and tips. First, get in for sunrise (I didn’t quite make it, but it was rubbish so that made me feel better) and to basically ignore the main gate and head for that ultimate reflection shot:

The Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

The Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Later, you can go back and explore what you originally missed. Splitting the gardens into quarters are the fountains. I don’t know when they turn on, but once they are, your reflection is gone.  Oh no!  But there are other pools for reflections:

Reflection of Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Reflection of Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Unless you manage to get first in the queue for tickets then first in the queue at the gate, there will be people there.  Shocking fact …

Tourists at the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Tourists at the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Stroll through the perfectly symmetrical garden.  As you arrive at the mausoleum, this is when you need to either cover your shoes or take them off.

Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

This is the moment you realise the sheer size of the building, plus the intricate details; carvings, inscriptions and precious stones.

Art on the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Art on the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Investigate the walls up close …

Art on the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

There are four minarets (used as a call to prayer in Islam), one on each corner of the marble platform continuing the symmetry.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Still not convinced of the size?  Look how small these people are:

Art on the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

Art on the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, Agra, India, Uttar Pradesh, India

There are several other buildings in the Taj Mahal complex, all worth exploring.

I was pretty ill when I visited (poor me) and unfortunately rushed my visit a little.  As a solo traveller, I would recommend a guide – they will give you a lot of information plus take fun pictures (or casually stalk another group).

Notes:   I opted for the east gate as it supposedly has less queues, but the walk from the ticket office to the gate is the longest – plenty of transportation on offer, though.  Either way, get up in the dark and you can get in before the Delhi day-trippers.

At the gate, there are separate queues for males and females, the males go a lot quicker than the females because of the bag scanning and checking (us ladies like to take a lot more in).  Bags supposedly aren’t allowed, but lots of folks had ’em.

Once you’re in, your ticket states you can’t re-enter which was contrary to what I’d researched – I didn’t try it, however.

When visited:  End of October

Weather: hazy sunshine, hot

Further InformationThe Official WebsiteWikipediaUNESCO

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