Monday, 26 December 2011

Incredible India: The Majesty of the Taj Mahal


A story told again and again
It has taken me a week to really be able to write about my visit to the Taj Mahal, the other blogs I have written were about arrangements, the journey and other experiences.
I was always of the impression that the Taj Mahal deserved a separate blog though I recognise that I might fail to give the experience the narration worthy of the place, it is one of those places that will never convey fully without a personal physical presence to breathe the air and savour the atmosphere of that amazing wonder of the world.
Having our own cab meant we had more control over our journey to Agra with opportunities to stop at the great temples of Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna to take pictures of the great statue of goddess Durga, see manure farms, visit the site of Akbar’s tomb, do the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.
Tourist benefits
On my first visit, in a tour group of 10 with a tour guide that had literally annoyed everyone with his antics, we got a few pointers as to the layout and some minor detail, then we were left to our own devices.
The benefit of being a high value ticket holder was soon evident; locals just paid INR 20 to see this amazing wonder of the world in their backyard but with that came interminable queues and some jostling. We however could jump all the queues from security checks through access to all the different places.
The toilet facilities are free whilst Indians are levied and if you do visit other Agra Development Authority sites as Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort or Sikandra, no taxes will be levied on production of your Taj Mahal ticket for a same day visit.
The majesty
Coming through the main gate, the majesty of the Taj Mahal was evident and amazing, nothing I have seen before could describe that view regardless of all the other pictures and depictions I have seen before, it was an imposing indescribable beauty, attractively enduring, preserved for centuries; a historic monument, a tomb, a mausoleum and an edifice to the loss of love to death.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is a tomb, built upon the grave of Mumtaz Mahal, the 3rd wife of Shah Jahan; a union of marriage borne of love rather than political allegiances, but she died giving birth to her 14th child.
One can only behold the magnificence of Islamic architecture, the undeniable symmetry, the excellent workmanship, the exquisiteness, the fact that no cost seemed to be spared in erecting these edifices that have inspired awe and wonder across the globe to be admired by those who have travelled from far and near to gape, gawp and gasp.
In and around
My trainers were too big for the shoe covers that I received along with a bottle of water that I had to leave them in the shoe rack. There are so many prohibited items you cannot take within the grounds of the Taj Mahal that I had on both occasions put my bag into storage, first for having a tiny MP3 player and then for having my netbook.
Considering what we could do with phones and cameras, the logic of barring the other things escapes me, but those are the rules. Shah Jahan was buried beside his beloved wife having first been deposed by his son and banged up in a cell facing in the Agra Fort facing the Taj Mahal.
His grave being the only asymmetrical thing in the whole place. I enjoyed the company of many drawn to me for all sorts of reasons who wanted to have their pictures taken with me. We all had fascinating stories to tell and in all I probably shook over a hundred hands.
Besides the Taj Mahal, there is the mosque, the guest house, the museum and other out buildings, all cannot be done in two visits, maybe not even in five.
Just once, if able
For my second visit, I had my personal tour guide whose knowledge was invaluable and activities were very helpful especially in taking the most important pictures around the Taj Mahal.
Even so, it was all the more amazing; looking at the Taj Mahal from any angle still is awesome. However, within all this there are dangers from either those looking for a quick buck through to the fingers trying hard to prise my mobile phone from my belt holster when I was trying to retrieve my shoes from the shoe rack.
The tight fit saved the day as I whipped the hand away from my mobile phone – but let that not take away from the day that I even had the opportunity to take a seat where Lady Diana once sat. You must if you can, visit the Taj Mahal, if just once in your life.
My Taj Mahal Slideshows
Some Pictures of Delhi and my 1st Visit
Pictures of our journey to Agra, the manure farms, stopover at the temple in Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the great statue of goddess Durga, the site of Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.



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