After our visit to Agra Fort we went back to the hotel, got the kids ready and went to the back of the Taj Mahal to see it at Sunset.
This is the area where the rumoured black Taj was going to be built. What looks like the foundations of what was to be the black marble Taj Mahal, may actually be the remains of a garden laid by an emperor who was in power long before the Taj was built.
Millar got bored of looking at the Taj and started playing humpty dumpty along the walls, climbing trees and running around. We knew our decision not to take the kids to the Taj Mahal the next morning was a good one.
Here are the photos we got that evening.
On the Sunday morning our guide met me and my husband at 6am in the hotel lobby.
Sunrise is a fantastic time to visit the Taj Mahal for many reasons. It is cooler at that time of day; there are less people; and it’s a different colour in the morning sun.
I think we would need to get there even earlier to see the Taj as the pink it is said to be in the sunrise. It still looked off white to me.
It’s gorgeous in the moonlight though, apparently.
It’s an amazingly beuatiful building. The white marble glistens and sparkles in the sun and the intricate stonework like delicate filagree and the semi precious gems inlaid in the stone like a colourful painting. Sometimes it looks like it’s made of white chocolate, but that may have been because I was hungry.
The Taj took twenty-two years to build and was built as a mausoleum for Mumtaz, King Shah Jahan’s third wife who died minutes after birthing their fourteenth child. Mumtaz was clearly his favourite wife. There are stories of how romantic their love was and how the Taj remains as a symbol of that undying love. There are also stories that the king had the hands of the builders and designers cut off so that they could never again create something so beautiful and then he had their eyes removed as well. So, it’s not all hearts and flowers.
Our guide is very knowledgeable and tells us the story of the Taj and takes our photo in a hundred different positions in the best places just like at Agra Fort the day before- this posing gets a bit annoying but we do get a couple of nice shots. Prettier people would have looked awesome in all of the naff poses; it’s not the guides fault that we’re not models. Looking through our photos it is clear that I am not enjoying having my photo taken which is a shame. I wish I could have faked it a bit more so we could have some better photos, but I just look uncomfortable and a bit pissed off in most of them.
We took a couple of our own shots, when we weren’t rushing to keep up with him. Here is my favourite – you can barely even tell we are at the Taj Mahal – which is why you let the guide take your photo and smile like you mean it!
He also tells us the best places from which to take photos of this majestic place. Between myself, my husband and my father, I now have a HUGE collection of photos of the Taj Mahal.
After seeing it from every angle from the garden and every reflection possible, we surrender our shoes and walk barefoot up the steps and across the courtyard to enter the mausoleum. The marble underfoot is cool and welcome on my hot and tired feet. Another reason to visit early, as we have heard that later in the day the ground is burny hot hot on bare feet.Inside, we are told not to take photos, but many people are. We didn’t take photos but luckily for you, my dad did when he visited the day before.
I’m not sure why we are told not to take photos, as what we are seeing is a replica of the real cenotaphs that are hidden in the chamber below.
It is cool and dark in here with natural light filtering in and one hanging lamp. We are told it used to be a lamp of gold, but not any more.
According to rumour – and our guide, who clearly believes the rumours to be true and not urban legend – the King did not want to be buried here. He wanted to build a black Taj Mahal for his own tomb. But his son who was by then the emperor, put him on house arrest at Agra Fort so he would not spend all that money on the black Taj. When the King died at Agra Fort, his daughter had him buried in the Taj Mahal. The Kings casket is the only thing that unbalances the careful symmetry of this place.
Even the gates, gardens and the mosques are built for symmetry. Only one of the mosques is a real mosque as it faces mecca, as it should. The other mirror image building is not used as a mosque, it is only there to balance the other.
There is no doubt that is is an amazing building. Not just the Taj Mahal, but the grounds. Agra looks after it’s most famous site by not allowing any cars near the building so that pollution doesn’t damage it. As such, our driver can only come so far and we walk the rest of the way to the entrance. There are battery operated rickshaws, golf carts or even a camel to take you the distance to the entrance if the walk is a bit too far. We found the walk fascinating as we were surrounded by monkeys.
Overall, I absolutely loved the Taj Mahal and I wish I had spent more time there at all different times of day to see it in all the different lights. It has been the highlight of the trip.
If you are going to India and want to visit the Taj Mahal, check out Amin Tours. They did a great job with our tour and are really quick to answer emails.
I would also recommend visiting this website too. Check out those photos. Gorgeous. Wish I had seen that before I went.
After seeing the Taj Mahal we left Agra. It was a long four hour drive to Delhi, stopping to change a flat tyre in the middle of rural somewhere. Then it was an insanely long flight home as it stopped in Mumbai, but we didn’t get off the plane! We just had to sit there for about an hour while some passengers got off, the plane was cleaned and more passengers got on. The kids were exhausted and completely crazy by the time we got back home to Chennai. Considering how long they were cooped up over the weekend, I think they did really well.
Have you been to the Taj Mahal? What must-see tourist destination is at the top of your list?