Falling in love with the Taj Mahal, India

taj mahal india

Seeing the mighty Taj Mahal is the stuff that travel dreams are made of.

In fact, this is a dream I’ve had since I was about 6 years old when I began collecting Wonders of the World cards from my favourite boxes of cereal. I remember looking at those shadowed concave arches and the surreal pinky-white domes cutting arcs into a cerulean sky. Even on a tiny card that came out of a box of Wheetabix it looked impressive. And I thought now that is something I have to see.

18 years on and I finally made it to the Taj. And let me tell you right now, it lives up to the hype! As I waited in the queue at sunrise, I was almost breathless with anticipation. I walked through the security checks as the moon started to fade away and was replaced with vibrant pinks, oranges and yellow. As I passed through the giant red sandstone gateway I caught my first glimpse of the Taj Mahal, every bit as ethereal as I ever could have imagined it. Spectral mists seemed to encircle it, giving it a hazy intangibility as it stood before me. The jewel-encrusted marble sparkled in the morning sunlight, and I stood with my mouth literally hanging open. Photos do no justice to the Taj Mahal. I have never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life.

taj mahal indiataj mahal india

It wasn’t until I got up close that I noticed the incredible detail that went into the making of the building. Running my hands along the cold marble walls of the Taj, I was amazed to see ornate patterns running across the brickwork of the entire building. Each pattern is either delicately carved from the stone, or inlaid with jewels.The story behind the Taj is that the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered it to be built as a mausoleum for his dead wife the Mumtaz Mahal. She was said to be his greatest love, and when she died he swore that he would never marry again. It isn’t until you get right up close to the Taj that you begin to feel the emotion of this story. The building is not just a beautiful testament to a lost love, but it actually physically depicts the Emperor’s mourning state. The inlaid floral patterns on the stone show drooping buds and flowers encased by depleting leaves. It is as though the very art of the Taj Mahal itself is weeping and mourning the death of the Mumtaz Mahal.

taj mahal indiataj mahal india

But it isn’t just the Taj that is beautiful. The buildings that surround it are worth mentioning too. The reddish-pink sandstone gates at the North and South of the complex are large and impressive, offering glimpses of the ice-white Taj through their doors. And the Muslim mosque, which sits at the back of the Taj Mahal facing the Agra fort, is a flaming mix of reds and oranges, with ceiling frescoes so stunning they had me lying on my back to take photos!

taj mahal indiataj mahal india

Since the Taj was built in the name of love, it is perhaps no surprise that even the people visiting and working in the Taj tend to get a little loved up. Stream of sighing poets and dreamy lovers ambled around the gardens, lapping up the beauty of the Taj like a cold drink on a hot day. I also noticed a sense of calm and friendliness in the people walking around the Taj that I hadn’t felt before in India. A group of kindly Indian women quickly befriended me when they spotted me walking around by myself, and I even saw a security guard stooping down to hand-feed a hungry squirrel!

taj mahal india

taj mahal indiataj mahal india

Have you ever visited the Taj before? What were your thoughts? And if you haven’t been yet – would you like to?

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15 Responses to Falling in love with the Taj Mahal, India

  1. Jessica Wray says:

    Omg, amazing pictures. I can’t wait to go!!

  2. Laurie says:

    Great post. Love your selection of pictures. been to this place and bring back great memories

  3. Janice says:

    Love your photos. Makes me long to be back at the Taj myself. I visited it in 2006, and it was a magical place.

  4. jane says:

    Great post, I wish to be there right now, just see through the photos but it’s really lively and fantastic.
    I will plan to go there next year

  5. Jon says:

    Beautiful photos! It looks absolutely stunning.

    Have you heard the legend of the black Taj? The story goes that, obsessed by symmetry as he was, Shah Jahan originally intended an identical Taj Mahal to be constructed on the opposite side of the river- only carved out of jet black marble. This was to be his burial chamber – black and white, husband and wife, connected by a bridge across the river. It was never built, due to extreme cost, and Shah Jahan’s deposition at the hands of his son five years later.

    As far as I could work out with a quick google, the story is basically a myth, first told by the french traveller Tavernier in 1665. Still, I like the image of the Taj’s shadow, carved out of marble.

    • girlandtheworld says:

      Hi Jon,

      Yes I heard about the black Taj! My tour guide insisted it was true and showed me several places where there are two Taj Mahals, one black and one white. However, as you say, this could just be a shadow of the Taj. I guess this all adds to the intrigue and allure of the Taj Mahal itself!

  6. Ally says:

    The taj mahal was beautiful. None of my photos do it justice.

  7. One word…WOW! And if photos don’t do it justice, what it must look like in real life must be pretty amazing. I have my tickets booked for India for early next year and will so be checking out the Taj!

    • girlandtheworld says:

      Thanks Sasha,

      You will have an amazing time in India no doubt. Let me know what you think of the Taj when you visit :)

  8. Pingback: 2012 in photos - backpacking through Asia

  9. I don’t have a trip to the Taj planned anytime soon, but it’s definitely on my big lifelong bucketlist. I’ve never known anywhere to always look 100% perfect in photographs either – it is just gorgeous!

    • girlandtheworld says:

      Thanks for your comment Elle-Rose. Yeah it definitely is the most beautiful building I’ve ever set eyes on. I would definitely advise anyone visiting India to try and squeeze it into their trip.

      I’ve heard a lot of people say that it isn’t worth visiting landmarks when traveling, but I reckon those people probably just haven’t visited the Taj! It’s a travel memory I will treasure forever :)

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