This morning we rode tongas (horse buggies) over to the Taj Mahal around 6am. We managed to get there pretty early so there weren't a ton of people on line yet. Five minutes later there were throngs of people coming down the street to get in. base on what we saw last butt from across the river, this was nothing compared to the.crowds that would show up later in the day.
At the front entrance gate, they have you lined up like cattle (literally, you are in single file cattle-like corrals) in lines of Indian women, Indian men, "high valued" men and "high valued" women. Since foreigners have to pay several hundred rupees more than the locals to get in, that must be why we were in the "high value" value line.
There's so much to say about the Taj, most of which you can read online. Basically, the Taj is the mausoleum for Shah Jahan's favorite wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. Shah Jahan promised to keep her close and never forget her, so he built this unbelievable testament to his love for her.
On a side note, last night we went to this terrible show, Kalakriti, which told the story of Shah Jahan and the Taj Mahal. ifyou ever come to Agra it is a torist trap and terrible acting. I thougt it.was a dance show, but the cheese factor was thru the roof! But I digress, I'm here to talk about the Taj.
The Taj was built next to the Moon Gardens, where they knew there would never be development on any side. In addition, the Yamuna River was redirected after the Taj was built bw the Taj and the Moon Gardens to increase the humidity level at the Taj. Sandstone and marble crack in dry weather and it is very dry at the dry time of year. Trust me, I know. My skin is so dry right now.
Inside the Taj itself are the fake tombs you can see on the main floor. They sit above the real tombs which are much further below. Shah Jahan lived many years after his wife died, hut was eventually buried next to her. The four minarets that surround the Taj are purposefully angled to the outside so they do not fall on the Taj and are also there to help keep it from shifting or sinking. Somehow thy balance it out.
Walking in thru the archway was an incredible sight. You are just humbled by the beauty of the.pools, the gardens, the symmetry and the majesty of the Taj itself. They have the pools ropes odlff, so even wkg the.crowds, you still get amazing views and photos.I had been worried about that, but there was no need. We got there at sunrise, and were there for close to 2 hours, if not a little more. What was amazing is I could have photographed Tue building all day long, bc with each change of the angle of the sun the colors of the Taj changed too. It was amazing!
We were told before going inside to ignore the Indian men who offer to show where to get the best pictures and/or take pictures for you. Untried to ignore these offers at first, but when I saw the photos taken by one of the women in my group who hooked up with one of those guys early on, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. Well worth the money to take advantage of their knowledge. I got some amazing pictures from angles I never would have thought of. I highly recommended seeking one of these guys out from the outset! It is definitely worth a few hundred extra rupees!
I felt I had to be dragged away from the Taj Mahal. Like I said, I could have stayed all day.