Cameras were not yet born when the Taj Mahal was built. But some prophecy must have told its builders to build something that every camera and camera holder would love. The way they have given an outward slant to the Minar’s so that they look straight in perspective or the way they have joined together simple elements that when put together look so elegant is just what the cameras today love.
When I was traveling through Spiti Valley in Himachal, I was told that you do not need to be a photographer, you can point your camera anywhere and you are bound to get a good picture – for the place is so damn beautiful that it is nearly impossible to get a bad picture. I could say the same words about Taj as well. You just point your camera towards this pristine white building and you cannot go wrong with your picture.
You can click the Taj from the front, from the back, from the side, from a distance or from close up, you will always smile at the result. You can go in different seasons or at different times of the day to get a different background and the white Mahal would reflect a bit of surrounding to give you a different mood, to make you feel as if you are meeting a different building while remaining distinctly just that.
Iconic Taj Mahal images
I also noticed that the way the walkways are allowed around, almost everyone gets a clean image of the monument. In fact, later at the UP Travel Writer’s conclave in Lucknow, I got to hear that the authorities have made sure that visitors can always get their iconic Taj Mahal image and nothing comes between them and the monument. I was thankful and I was impressed.
If you look at the parts of the Taj Mahal in isolation – they are quite simple. There are no complicated carvings. Even the inlay work is simple – it is the finesse that it is done with that makes it special. The way all the pieces come together to be a masterpiece is worth appreciating. If I have to translate it to Management Jargon, it is a perfect example of average workers coming together as a brilliant team.
I enjoyed playing with the Minar angles and clicking through the arches.
I liked the Red sandstone as much as the sparkling white of Taj. Yes, the white shines through and shimmers as sun rays play with it, but the Red sandstone has an elegance that is difficult to match.
Whenever I visit these monuments that have a whole economy running around them, they bring prominence to the region by sheer presence, I feel the greatest contribution of such monuments is that they still continue to be a source of livelihood for so many and a thing of joy for even more.
These creations may have served a small purpose in their creator’s life, but for generations, they feed the people who take care of it, people who tell its stories to the visitors, and even more important than that is the joy it fills in the people who visit it. I saw people looking at it as a dream come true. There were many who saved for years to be able to visit the Taj. I saw the excitement on the faces as they stood in long queues to get the first glimpse of the monument. It was a pleasure to see them posed with an ear-to-ear smile on their faces – just as they had dreamt of for years.
Those 22,000 builders of the monument must be smiling somewhere in the sky looking at the creation they left the world with. And a creation that was fortunate to catch the world’s eye in a way that it is well taken care of.
- Do visit it early morning if possible, as soon as the sun rises and the gates are opened for the public.
- Visit once when the sun is setting. I visited it from the Mehtab Bagh in the evening. And you get pretty good shots from there too, including the two red buildings on its side.
- If you can, plan to visit during full moon night and go for the evening view. For me, this is still pending.
- If you want to see the real graves of the couple – Shahjahan and Mumtaj Mahal, visit it when the underground chamber is opened to the public once a year. Since they follow a lunar calendar you need to check the date in the year you plan to visit.
- Avoid going on Saturday morning, as the water in the fountain, channels are filled on Saturday. And you would miss your reflection shots on this day.
I visited the Taj Mahal more than 30 years ago as a primary school kid. I had some vivid memories of visiting it. It was not so isolated then, we could just take a rickshaw or a Tonga to its gate. Buy a ticket and walk-in. Today you probably need a full day to visit it.
What to read
There is so much written about the UNESCO World Heritage site. I have nothing much to add. Go to the ASI website for most authentic information or other World Heritage Sites in India.
Recommended you read Places to Visit nearby and in Uttar Pradesh on my Travel Blog.