The Taj Mahal

The 68th Indian Independence Day meant for a long weekend of festivities and exploration. I walked the length and breadth of Delhi nearly wearing holes in the soles of my shoes. On Saturday night I made a spur of the moment decision that on my third visit to India it was about time for me to see the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal page, in my guide book, is curled up and dirtied so much by me reading, re-reading and reading again the page dedicated to the greatest symbol of love! I decided that enough was enough – it was time to visit one of the great Wonders of the World.

I caught a ride on Sunday morning from Delhi: destination Agra!

The road was great and the journey painless. Without a doubt one of the best roads in India. I bought my ticket, layered on the suncream and swung my camera over my shoulderb&it was time to do it…

The main entrance to the area...
Hard to believe that this entire building was purely built as an entrance way.
The first view one gets of the Taj Mahal is through the dark corridor of the main entrance gate. It is truly the light at the end of the tunnel and no matter how hard you try you simply can not stop starring at what lies ahead of you in the distanceb&it makes the heart beat faster!
But when you walk into the entrance way you sure do get the full effect that was meant in its construction. The first view one gets of the Taj Mahal is through the dark corridor of the main entrance gate. It is truly the light at the end of the tunnel and no matter how hard you try you simply can not stop starring at what lies ahead of you in the distanceb&it makes the heart beat faster!And this exact moment makes the entire trip worth while.
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In terms of busy days I went to Agra over one of the most crazy days of the year. A long weekend due to the celebrations of Independence Day. The masses of people, may have detracted on the photographs, but to be honest did not affect me in the slightest. Here were thousands of people – myself included – who had come to see the greatest monument constructed to love ever. I was spellbound by the building and nothing in the world could detract from this spectacle.
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The photograph that I had wanted to take for years. Strange thing is that normally as a photographer I would be frustrated about harsh light (1pm in the afternoon) and other finer details, but with this visit to the Taj Mahal I actually found myself taking very few pictures and not even minding about what I was taking – in truth I was just lapping up this ridiculously beautiful building.
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There are few words to describe this…
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I enjoyed putting some of the pictures, in post, into black and white as it allows one to get a great idea of the finer details of the building itself. I love how this picture shows the scale with people at the bottom. As a foreigner you do not have to wait in any of the lines so it makes the process a breeze. The place was well organised and neatly kept. Everyone walks around almost in a daze.
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Some of the finer details (plant motifs) that are carved in the marble all over the Taj. Apparently over 20 000 people were involved in it’s construction that took almost 22 years to complete.
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This is one of my favourite pictures of the day. The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. In the past air pollution has been a big problem for the Taj making it turn a yellow colour. This has forced the government to take drastic measures, setting up the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), a 10,400-square-kilometre area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place
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A low angle shot of one of the four minarets.
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People line up to enter the tomb. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level and not open to the public.
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On either side of the Taj you will find two buildings which are precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and the other is the jawab, whose primary purpose was architectural balance, although it may have been used as a guesthouse.
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Looking back from the Taj towards the entrance

By no means an expert, here is my advice for visiting the Taj Mahal (please feel free to add suggestions in the comments belowb&)

It is closed on Fridays.

Try avoid weekends if you want to avoid the massive crowds.

It opens early (6am) so for ideal photographs you need to spend the night in Agra to get there whilst lighting is perfect and crowds have not arrived yet. It closes at sunset.

As a foreigner you pay more than locals which is completely understandable. What this extra fee also means, however, is that you do not have to wait in queues and lines. You simply move straight to the front – on hot days this is priceless.

Take sun cream and sunglasses. The white marble reflects and burns.

Tripods are not allowed.

No food is allowed, but take water.

The complex is open for night viewing on the day of the full moon and two days before and after.

The Taj Mahal is a comfortable 3- 3:30 hour drive from Delhi.

You can easily combine the Taj Mahal with a SUJAN experience. From the Taj Mahal it is only a 4 -5 hour drive from the SUJAN Rajmahal Palace in Japiur. From there it is a three and a half hour drive to see tigers, leopards and sloth bears at SUJAN Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore.

For any queries about adding a visit to the Taj Mahal to your SUJAN destination please feel free to get hold of our very helpful team at reservations (reservations@sujanluxury.com)

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister

6 thoughts on “The Taj Mahal

  1. Wow, I was just setting about sorting and editing my pictures from India and saw your blog on FB. Excellent to see I have some very similar shots of the Taj. (enough to feel I have a reasonable eye for an keen but amateur photographer.)
    It brought back some great memories of our trip to India in April and also the stay at Jawai (seeing 6 leopards on the morning drive) which is still one of the best experiences of my life.

  2. Clearly for a couple in love there can be no better option than experiencing SUJAN Luxury Hospitality combined with a visit to the TAJ.

  3. Adam, I loved seeing your evocative photographs of the Taj and remembering my visit there some years ago. An incredibly special place. And beautifully captured through your lens and your words. x

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