TajMahal at Agra – A different perspective through my lens

The TajMahal at Agra does not cease to mesmerize tourists and travellers from around the world. The same holds good for us Indians too , as I am back from my fifth trip to the Taj.

Old monuments and buildings fascinate me to no end since my childhood and so do the doors and windows.I keep wondering what stories and mysteries are hidden inside them to be unravelled. No, no ..not being intrusive, just that they pique my inquisitiveness. I am sure, many of you are intrigued by them, too.

I am not going to dwell into the history of TajMahal in this post , except that , the monument was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for one of his wives popularly called ‘Mumtaz Mahal’ and it took around 20,000 workers to build this magnificent complex in a span of 22 years!

Exploring the different side of the TajMahal

Source : Canva

Expectations

The Taj Complex in Agra sprawls 55 acres, with the white mausoleum at its fag end, flanked by River Yamuna on its North and interspersed with beautiful red standstone strcutures. Entered through one of the three gates/sides, the monument welcomes every person with symmetrical corridors, beautiful arcades and lush green well-manicured lawns numbering four at the entrance. One cannot resist but admire the thought process that went into conceptualizing the whole design plan of the Taj Complex.

 

Taj isn’t all white

On my recent visit, last week , I restrained myself from falling into the trap of the white monument that lures the visitors and engulfs them by its awesomeness. Instead, I ventured and explored the red-sandstone structures that stood majestically in silence across the complex.

 

 

These red sand stones are a reminder of the contribution of Indian workers, the scores of prayers rendered under its domes by the Muslims , the influence of the Rajputs and the sea of visitors who were sheltered in these corridors. They are also the first structures that welcome the thousands of tourists who visit Taj every day, telling their own tales to the ones who listen!

 

 

Welcome to the Taj

The main archway called the ‘darwaza’ is a combo of both sandstone and marble with Mughal architecture reflected in its engraved calligraphy and geometric ceilings. There are 22 small domes on the archway that represent the number of years it took to build the Taj. Supposedly, after every year , a dome was constructed to keep track of the time! This archway is like the portiere that opens to a spectacle!

 

 

First Impressions

The very first time I came face to face with this tear drop , I was spell bound. It looked like a delicate piece of milk chocolate flanked and protected by brown choco chunks on either sides. Pardon me for this weird analogy,however, these were my first impressions of this monument almost a decade back. I discovered that it looked a little pale with an yellow tint,as I went nearer. This paleness is attributed to the dismal level of pollutants in the air over and around the monument.

The wall around the complex encompasses huge corridors that would have provided stay for the scores of visitors in the immediate years of the completion of the Taj.Now, they provide the required respite from the heat by providing shade and a place to rest for the visitors.

Rightly, onto the right side of the main archway , there is a cook house which used to satisfy the hunger of the visitors.However, now, it lies closed reminiscing its past glory.

The White balanced by the Red

The marble mausoleum that houses the graves of Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal, is flanked on either side by structures in red stone.The one onto the West is the ‘masjid’ / mosque whereas the right side structure is a guesthouse termed the ‘jawab'(answer) to balance and fulfill the architectural needs of a symmetry. Another distinction is the black marble flooring of the mosque that has the outlines of prayer mat numbering 569. The masjid and the jawab look the same, barring these differences.

As one moves further , you come across the water body with numerous fountains. The fountains are said to be naturally connected to the River Yamuna on the banks of which the TajMahal is constructed.So, the flow of the river controls the water in the fountains. (According to my guide!) The other side of the river bank has remanants of the foundation structure that was laid for the construction of the Black TajMahal as a complement to the one in white.

Last week, it rained heavily and one can see the Yamuna gushing with water flowing majestically behind the TajMahal. Are you able to get a glimpse of the Agra fort in the above pic? It is widely believed that – post his imprisonment by his own son Aurangzeb , ShahJahan spent his last years cherishing his time with Mumtaz and gazing at the TajMahal from his prison room in the Agra fort! Or may be he visited his wife’s grave stealthily through the tunnel…

Doors of Taj

 

There are numerous doors inside the complex and one such door which is sealed is said to lead to a tunnel connecting the Taj and the Agra fort.I wonder ifΒ it is constructed like the labyrinth at the Bada Imambara, in Lucknow.

 

Most of these doors have been sealed for now, barring few that are used to stock items used for Eid celebrations. Another door which lies to the right of the Main Darwaza must have been an entry point for the animal carts that had brought in loads of marbles and sandstone for the construction of the Taj.

It is interesting how these monuments end up revealing themselves in layers on every visit. May be because, on our first visit we end up seeing through the eyes of a tourist, during the second visit we see through the eyes of a traveller , third visit makes us explorers, fourth transforms us into historians,fifth turns you into a detective, haha!

Like many of the Mughal era monuments in India, this too is widely believed to have been built by destroying a Hindu temple. However, there is not much evidence to prove this belief. Inspite of all these controversies, it is undeniable that TajMahal is indeed the pride of India.

I was accompanied by my hubby, son, parents and grandparents on this trip and we made sure to make maximum use of the benches for family snaps with the backdrop of the Taj. My favourite snap has to be the one in which four generations of family members are all smiles in front of the white wonder!

Parting Shot

I am yet to soak in the beauty of the TajMahal during the dawn and dusk, as I have always ended up visiting it at around 10AM. Even on this trip, it was pretty hot and much of the complex could not be explored. Surprisingly, I am still yearning to visit the Taj on a full moon day!

Look out for the guide to the TajMahal on my blog , that is being given the finishing touches now and should be posted by next week. So, have you been to the Taj, yet? If yes, what mesmerised you? Did it meet your expectations or you think it is over-hyped. I would love to hear your views on this…Please express your feelings in the comment section below….Till next time, Ciao!

 

 

 

I am taking my blog to the next level with #MyFriendAlexa and BlogchatterΒ 

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61 Responses

  1. Divyakshi says:

    Such a lovely perspective Meenakshi! Loved your captures ( especially the corridors and the doors) It is so so true that the Taj is. It just white and it’s the whole blend of red and white that makes it so unique and majestic!

  2. I have been to TAJ umpteen number of times as there is simply something so awe inspiring about this monument!! I love visiting it a lot but I think I have never paid any attention to the rest of the building around it and your post made me realise what all I have missed there – next time this is definitely on the cards to explore.
    I have also been planning to but never made it for the full moon sighting of the Taj yet!

  3. I have been to TAJ umpteen number of times as there is simply something so awe inspiring about this monument!! I love visiting it a lot but I think I have never paid any attention to the rest of the building around it and your post made me realise what all I have missed there – next time this is definitely on the cards to explore.
    I have also been planning to but never made it for the full moon sighting of the Taj yet!

  4. Sushmita says:

    I drive to Agra, whenever I feel like. I am in awe of Taj Mahal. I don’t know why! And everytime I visit there, it’s just like a new place to me. You have captured all the aspects of the Taj beautifully! Well done!

  5. Agnivo says:

    Visit to Taj Mahal remains one of my most cherished memories. Thank you for rekindling those images. Nice clicks. Superb write-up.

  6. Masoom says:

    Very well written post, I have never been to the Taj, But after reading this I am excited to atlest visit the monumnet atleast once. Super like the photography !

  7. Amazing and superb pics of wonders of the world. I have visited this destination.

  8. Diya says:

    All I remember from my first visit to Taj is the tonga ride! And the second trip happened in the month of June so you can imagine how fun that must have been. NOT. I enjoyed going through your post more than my actual trip. I guess third time will be the charm if I visit Taj in winters. πŸ™‚

  9. anupriya says:

    Your pictures have very effectively captured how majestic Taj Mahal is. I couldn’t help but scroll up and down this post to keep having a relook at them.

  10. Hena Jose says:

    Never been to Agra. Your images were so good that I felt as if I visited the place.

  11. Have been to this place and its mesmerising ..but this beautiful post makes me fall in love with this place again..thanks for the visual tour.

  12. dr. Bushra says:

    Wow, These pictures pushing me to explore The Taj Mahal once again. I’ve visited here 2 yr back Indeed it’s the Wonder of world

  13. Neha gupta says:

    Loved your post, I had visited Tajmahal when I was a kid but after reading your post, I realized its time to visit again. Thanks for sharing the interesting details

    Neha (Sharingourexperiences)

  14. Taj Mahal has a different charm of its own. You can go there numerous times and every time you will find something new to enjoy and take back as memories.

  15. This one is on my to-visit list. We are so used to seeing couple photos in front of Taj Mahal, I quite enjoyed your unique perspective.

  16. Shamik says:

    I would say, what a majestic post… Loved reading it and the photographs are just awesome that make the post even more attractive. Thank you for sharing!!
    You had been 5 times to this majestic creation and I’ve not had a luck yet to visit this once πŸ™
    But will soon visit it…

  17. Dipika says:

    Amazing photography, being born in Agra Taj is the best hang out place for me & friends. I have love & hate relationship with this place but seeing it from your eyes is definitely a refresher.

  18. Avinash says:

    Taj Mahal never fails to mesmerize- loved your post

  19. I haven’t been there. But your description and pics virtually took me there. One of the best descriptions of Taj I have read so far. And it’s my wish too to visit on a full moon day. It would look magnificent nah?
    I wonder what will your 6th visit to Taj will make you? πŸ˜€

  20. Ruchi Verma says:

    First of all superb clicks and I’m born n bought up in UP but still not seen this beauty …have to visit for sure

  21. Manisha Garg says:

    Thanks for sharing so much more around the Taj Mahal, I did not know about the tunnel part at all

  22. Deepa says:

    Beautiful pics. You reminded me of our Agra trip last year. It is worth a visit for everyone.

  23. Gayatri says:

    Living in such a close proximity to Delhi, I have lost count of the number of times we have visited Taj Mahal. Your post had such intricate details of monuments around Taj, the labyrinth of doors and corridors. Loved reading it Meenakshi. Taj would not have been a marvel in isolation if the beauty around it had not supplemented its existence.

  24. Prisha Lalwani says:

    what a gorgeous article!! Loved the pictyres & the narration!! what a lovely art of telling the tale.

  25. Alpana Deo says:

    I liked your analogy of white chocolate and brown choco chunks ..:) Even though I have visited Taj Mahal but looking at it through your lens was a different experience. And the pictures were like icing on the cake.

  26. I haven’t been here but the pics look lovely and your take on it was enlightening. Sigh… add to bucket list

  27. arv! says:

    Lovely perspective! Most people just focus on Taj Mahal but you tried to show it from a different side. Loved last three door pictures.

  28. Tina Basu says:

    Beautiful photos you have clicked. I was tiny when i visited Taj and almost have no memmory of it. It’s weird how people don’t give importance to the other side!

  29. karuna chauhan says:

    Brilliant exhaustive post. we just visited here last year and it brought in some very happy memories going through all the beautiful pics

  30. Thanks for some unknown facts and showing unseen side of taj.

  31. ashwin says:

    Those are amazing snaps!

  32. Bellybytes says:

    You are right about being mesmerised by the Taj. I too have visited this monument at different times in my life – once as a teenager, once with family and once as a mom with my kids and once as a real tourist with a firang. Each time the experience was naturally different but each time you look at it differently.

  33. Neha says:

    Lovely description and I liked it that you focused on surrounding monuments as well. I am yet to visit Taj, but your description has certainly piqued my interest a bit more.

  34. Your post made justification to reveal the beauty of Taj from a different prespective. Amazingly beautiful clicks. I was also stunned by its beauty when we visited it 10 years back. Happy to connect with you for #MyFriendAlexa !!!

  35. Obsessivemom says:

    I never tire of seeing pictures of the Tajmahal. It’s gloriously beautiful. I’ve been there once when I was a child. And now I hope I’ll go there again some day with the children. Loved the ‘red’ parts of it that you clicked.

  36. Romil Kapoor says:

    Belonging originally from Lucknow and having my in-laws in Agra I definitely have a connect with the 2 monuments mentioned. But captured beautifully through your camera.
    Keep Sharing.. there are more places in UP that people would love to visit

  37. Aesha Shah says:

    I have visited the Taj Mahal long back and had completely forgotten about the various other monuments surrounding the Taj. Thanks for this post, the pictures of Yamuna are beautiful .

  38. Suchita Agarwal says:

    The photos were mesmerizing

  39. Shalini says:

    Just wow! I’m in awe. Can you believe it, I haven’t been to the Taj yet! It has been on my bucket list since forever! Your post is tempting me to take that trip pretty soon πŸ™‚
    P.S: Your photographs have turned out just wow! Also great that you used enlarged pictures this time. Adds to the beauty of the post. And man! I’m waiting for that day when you are known as a well-known travel writer from our country. You have it in you! πŸ™‚

  40. Wow! I never thought about the other side of the Taj!
    What brilliant captures, Meenu!
    Such a treat, reading this post and feasting my eyes on the pictures!

  41. Akshata says:

    Lovely pics and your interpretation and stories are fascinating. I visited Taj just once as a child. I can’t contribute much , owe another visit

  42. Wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Being a Westerner, I did not know there was more to the Taj Mahal than the white dome. Your pictures are awesome. I’m intrigued by the many doors. There are stories untold a this treasured building. Thank you for sharing.

  44. I loved my visit to taj mahal and understood why it secured a spot in wonders of the world when i witnessed it sheer beauty with my eyes! Those were some stunning pics! Thank for refreshing my memories with this amazing photos.

  45. Definitely a different take on Taj
    Nice Pictures.
    Loved it.
    P.

  46. The white dome when enter and watch it from the pathway is sheer bliss and fascinating in the tomb as you enter inside. Love the view of the river when you are on the top and watching people tendering. It’s sheer bliss and expressed the various cultures that makes Taj Mahal our jewel.

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