The Taj Mahal is one of the best known monuments in India, and maybe the world. We arrived in Agra in the early evening, too late to visit the Taj Mahal, but perfect for a sunset view across the Yamuna River of the rear of the mausoleum. Emperor Shah Jahan’s monument to his wife Mumtaz Mahal was started in 1632 and finished in 1648. Instead of placing the large white marble building in the center of the grounds, like Akbar’s Mausoleum, the Taj Mahal lies at the opposite end of the gardens. As you walk through the entrance gate and view the Taj Mahal in the distance its grandeur leaps out at you.
Driving directly up to the Taj Mahal is no longer permitted due to pollution. As you walk up to the entrance there are various vendors which stand in contrast to the 17th century wonder you’re about to see.
It’s worth waking up early and getting there before it really gets crowded or too hot, and sometimes the fog will render the Taj unseeable unless you’re very close. Fortunately there was no fog. Once you get up close to the building you will have to take off your shoes. It is white marble after all. The decorative details and patterns were amazing once again. I really like Indo-Islamic design. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the building where the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan lay. Oh and their actual tombs are below the building in another room.
You may notice rings on the dome of the Taj Mahal. Apparently these exist so they may drape black cloth over the building to prevent it from getting bombed by enemies. Surprising and interesting fact!