Sharing moments in time…

India/Nepal at 25mph (or less) – Part 2 – Taj Mahal

Like most people traveling to India, the Taj Mahal was a must see – after all it is considered by most to be one of the “wonders of the world”.  We drove from Dehi to Agra with the intent of seeing the Taj in the afternoon when the photographic light was good.  That was pretty much negated by a cloudy afternoon but it really didn’t detract from a spectacular experience.  It was both a weekend and a holiday so there were LOTS of people at the Taj, so my hope of photographing it with a sparse crowd also was not to be.  Whenever I go to a famous site, I also try to get photos which show a different view of the iconic – I managed to get a few that might not be familiar but I  thought I’d start with the typical postcard shot – but processed to minimize the effect of the light and the crowd….

The Taj Mahal - lives up to its reputation

The Taj Mahal – lives up to its reputation

Many of you probably know that the Taj Mahal was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his third but  favorite wife,  a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 13th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.  He kept his promise to her to build the Taj but his promise to visit her on her death anniversaries was interrupted when he was imprisoned by his own son.  The Emperor also planned to build a much smaller “Black Taj” on the other side of the river as tribute to his mourning but that plan was also stopped by his son and Shah Jahan was eventually entombed next to his wife in the Taj.

One of the many things I never realized before this visit was the extent of the grounds and the surrounding buildings.  The entire site is enclosed by massive rock walls and there are four huge structures at each corner of the site which are extremely impressive on their own.  There is also a huge red sandstone entryway to the main grounds as shown below.

How's this for a front door?

How’s this for a front door?

You might notice the 22 small domes lined up across the front and back of the building – they symbolize the 22 years it took to complete the Tah Mahal.  The next thing that the guides point out is the amazing planning that went into all aspects of the Taj – there is a small cornerstone on the approaching sidewalk that I stood on while I took this photo – it was specifically intended that you be able to see the entry arch to the Taj mirrored through the arch of the gateway building.  This photo also gives you an idea of some of the detail contained within the inlays which decorate all of the Taj Buildings.  What you can’t appreciate is the precision of the inlays and the fact that many of the inlays are done in transparent stones and minerals to catch the light.

Arches and Inlays

Arches and Inlays

Okay, so these next few photos are my attempt to catch unusual angles of the Taj that you may not see on every travelog.  This first one is a shot along the front red sandstone base of the Taj highlighting the sandstone railing detailing the front of the building.

A Taj photo with no people - not an easy thing to do :-)

A Taj photo with no people – not an easy thing to do 🙂

While we were at the Taj, I also wanted to see if I could get a photo from across the river – I had seen some that were very artistic but that our guide said were obviously photoshopped.  We ran out of time the afternoon we were there but our guide juggle our itinerary and we managed to come back through Agra in the early morning to get that shot.  Again, the weather wasn’t very good – we took the photo between rain showers – and it really was at first light.  Here is the view from a park that is actually part of the Taj grounds on the other side of the Yamuna river – an artsy shot with no people – no one was dumb enough to be up at that hour!  Hope you enjoyed my quick take on the Taj!!

Early morning tee time at Taj Mahal Park....

Early morning tee time at Taj Mahal Park….





17 responses

  1. Terrific shots Scott!

    February 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

  2. The images were totally worth the wait!

    February 28, 2013 at 10:23 am

    • Thanks Ausaf – still lots more coming

      March 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

  3. Fabulous ‘post card’ on the Taj Mahal!

    February 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

    • Cheryl – glad you liked it – that my favorite also.

      March 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

  4. Bruce Wetherby

    Scott, thanks for the pictures and accompanying story. Some quick comments/questions: The park across the river from the Taj was not there when I visited in 1997. It was a dirt field that was being set up for a Jani concert, or he had recently held a concert there. How did the city of Agra look, as I remember the start contrast between the beauty of the Taj and the ugliness (e.g., open sewers, pollution) of the city? Good story about the Shah–did you get to visit the Red Fort just up the river where he was held as a prisoner, and did you hear anything about the rumor that all the workers on the Taj were killed after they completed it in order to prevent them from possibly building another burial mosque of greater beauty? The scale of everything built in India makes European castles look like cottages.

    Thanks, and looking forward to more reports of your trip–trust you and Dee are getting over your jet lag!

    Take care,


    February 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    • Hi Bruce – Agra is still a busy and bustling city with all the attendant problems that brings in India – traffic, pollution, dust, etc. We didn’t have the time to visit the Red Fort although we did pass it. We didn’t hear the story about the workers being killed but we were told that the lead architect had to promise never to build another structure which could rival the Taj. It is hard to imagine another structure which could compete with that complex!

      Mostly over the jet lag but still getting used to the quiet at home…..

      March 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  5. Gorgeous photos, great into…thank you.

    February 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    • Thanks Siggi – it as a magnificent place!

      March 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  6. I enjoyed the tour of the Taj and especially the postcard-like image! It looks like that photo could have been taken decades ago.

    How much of the inside are visitors able to see?

    March 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    • Hi Jackie,
      You can go through the main entrance and into the central portal where they have a replica of the tomb itself (which is below).

      March 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm

  7. Bridget

    Scott – I’m loving each and every photo you’ve shared and look forward to your next post. As always, I’m traveling vicariously through you!

    March 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    • Thanks Bridget! This was an incredible trip – just scratching the surface of what we saw and experienced. Say hi to Dave and everyone for me!

      March 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

  8. Pingback: New Seven Wonders of the World … or are they? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Linda Sterger

    I’ve really enjoyed the photos and posts Scott! It’s obvious that you love what you do!

    March 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    • Hi Linda! I’m glad you’re enjoying them. Any excuse to travel and hang out with the animals 😉

      March 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm

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