Taj Mahal, the ultimate monument to love

My first fleeting experience with the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra took place at the Red Fort when, visiting Summan Burj, my guide Danish explained to me that right there the king Shah Jahan spent his last years torturing himself with the sight of the awe-inspiring tomb he had built in loving memory of his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal.

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The view of the Taj Mahal at the entrance

Visiting the Taj Mahal, the ultimate monument to love

“Are you ready for the ultimate monument to love?” Announced my guide when we were leaving the Red Fort.

“Oh my,” I thought. “This is going to be big… Can I say ‘no’ to such an enticing program?”

“You bet I am!” came my reply.

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A close view of the Taj Mahal, where it shows all its majesty

We got in the car and made our way to UNESCO world heritage site Taj Mahal. “Take a picture of the Taj when you go,” an Indian friend of mine living in Shanghai told me. “Even if I’m from India I’ve never seen it!”

The first impression a visitor has when motioning beyond the curved vault into the otherworldly garden is one of peace. It doesn’t matter how many tourists visit the monument, you will always be able to hear the silence. It was built as a tomb, a place to rest, and this is how it stayed throughout the centuries.

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Depending on the lighting, the Taj Mahal takes on different colors, towards the sunset, I could admire it in golden shades

It seems like we don’t have much information on the Taj Mahal city, Agra, before the Muslim conquest.

What we have is the impression of Persian poet Salman, who died in 1121 AD, left to posterity his memory of a glorious Hindu stronghold.

As history goes, we know that in the seventeenth century, when it was ruled by Shah Jahan, grandson of Akbar the Great, the city reached its highest moment of architectural style, which culminated, needless to say, with the Taj Mahal.

Since the day of their marriage, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal became inseparable, to the extent that when her husband went to Burhanpur in the Deccan to suppress a revolt of Khan-e-Jahan Lodi, Mumtaz went with him, and after giving birth to their fourteenth child, she fell very ill.

Apparently, her last wish was that her husband would build a beautiful monument on her grave as the symbol of their never-ending love. This is how the Taj Mahal was created.

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A view of the Taj Mahal from the side

A white marble masterpiece

So Shah Jahan did, commissioning the Taj Mahal, a real masterpiece in marble of Makrana, in the Nagaur District of Rajasthan, to architect Ustad Isa Afandi of Turkey.

It took twenty years and some 20,000 workers to build the Taj Mahal, today one of the landmarks that hardly miss in any India itinerary.

Created by the genius and expertise of countless artists, workers, poets, the Taj shows its majesty even before arriving, but once there it’s truly striking to realize that nothing is visible behind it: no other city, no building, no land, only a boundless sky.

Around the Taj Mahal, there are other minor buildings, also beautifully inlaid with an exquisite taste of colours and decorations, serving as tombs as well, some for the maids of Mumtaz Mahal, some for the other wives of Shah Jahan.

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A view of the Taj Mahal from the back

Apart from visiting the Taj Mahal, with the opportunity of taking pictures from the outside (inside it’s not allowed, even if some visitors don’t really respect the rule), you will enjoy watching the many Indian couples, with respective families behind, posing for romantic photos, almost as a way to celebrate their marriage in the place that in their country is widely considered as the “ultimate monument to love.”

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34 Comments
  1. C’est décidé,j’irai en Inde! Tes magnifiques photos et tes articles pittoresques m’ont convaicue!

  2. Ancora una sorprendente e personale descrizione del sito, correlata da belle fotografie ! Complimenti

  3. Beautiful pics. I remember reading the story when I was a kid and it has definitely stuck with me – it’s both tragic and romantic and it makes the story unforgettable.

    • It is romantic indeed, and so sad. The Taj Mahal itself reflects both these emotions, a truly impressive piece of architecture.

  4. Magnificent!!

  5. Beautiful photos, Angela! The effects of the sunset are amazing — love the colors and detail.

  6. What a beautiful monument of never ending love. Visiting the Taj Mahal is at the very top of my bucket list and you’ve just made me want to go there even more!

  7. Reply
    jamie - cloud people adventures April 13, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    i didnt know much about the history of the taj mahal, it certainly adds more mystique to the place. great pics, love the colours.

  8. I’ve never seen so many photos that show the details of the Taj–most people stop with the iconic approach shot. Thanks for giving me this close-up view!

  9. Wow TajMahal ..Superb clicks my fri ..but the real color of the Taj Mahal is changing coz of the Acid rain !!! soon i have to visit this before it gets change !!

    • I know colours are in danger, unfortunately, due to the high level of pollution, but there are many NGOs trying to stop the most polluting factories from working there. Also they told me the Taj Mahal used to be a bit messy, while now it’s definitely tidy and well taken care of..

  10. I love to visit Taj Mahal one day! Great blog!

  11. This is an amazing snapshot of Taj Mahal of India, one of the seven wonders of World. It is the dream of ever individual to see the taj mahal of Agra. The full moonlight view of Taj Mahal will cherish your dream for lifelong.

    Thanks,

    praveen

  12. Reply
    nithya (Life Out of a Suitcase) June 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

    i love the story of the Taj Mahal and it def overwhelmed me when I was there. I heard the story when I was a little kid, so it was little bit of a fairytale going there. The views at sunset are unbelievable!

  13. And I am re-send by you to Agra. Thanks :-)

  14. thank you for the article it brings back fond memories for me visiting the site in 1980, great to see a few different angles on the tomb, it had me running to my office to re-see my shots that are now framed on my wall. Of note, the story is told that Shah Jahan was planning a tomb for himself across the Yamuna river in black marble with white inlaid, at least until his son decided to put the kabosh on the massive expenditure.

    Thanks Angela… there is only one India :)

    • Thanks for your comment Joe, so the tomb was not made? I can imagine how beautiful would have been in black marble. Interesting enough, just yesterday an Indian girl let me know over Twitter that recent findings have claimed the Taj was actually a Hindu temple that was captured by the Mughals and converted to a tomb.

  15. We visited the Taj this summer as well and this brings back beautiful memories! Love the picture of the Taj with the beautifully colored sky!

  16. Fantastic photographs, I love your narrative too!

  17. Very nice. Thanks for sharing again and again.

  18. Beautiful picutres! I wish you had got to South India as well!

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