Authored by Anna Phipps
My first, eagerly anticipated, glimpse of the famous building was actually from over the rooftops of Agra shortly after sunrise, where, in the early morning mist it almost blends, unassumingly, into the sky.
The Taj Mahal, Mughal Muslim monument, is undoubtedly the most famous attraction in India, created by built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 as a memorial his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in childbirth.
I had high expectations for ‘the most beautiful building in the world’, and the Taj Mahal exceeded these from start to finish.
The impressive 30m red sandstone gateway could be an attraction in its own right with creamy coloured detailing inscribed with intricate flower details and Arabic scrolls. The amber hues of the gateway contrast and enhance the white of the Taj beautifully.
In the misty early morning light I catch my first glimpse of the most beautiful building in the world, the arched gateway creates a perfectly positioned, stunningly symmetrical frame of the white dome of the Taj as it seems to rise ethereally and dreamily out of the mist to take my breath away.
Stepping out from under the arch way, the whole magnificence of the Taj becomes apparent as the grand, lush gardens, fountains and waterways stretch out in front, mirroring the symmetry and reflecting the Taj in the background as it leads us up to the gleaming, white domed, perfectly symmetrical Taj Mahal.
The Taj looks fantastic from every angle, both from a distance and close up. The level of detailing on the Taj is the perfect balance of intricate details that don’t distract from the grandeur and overall spectacle as you see it gleaming in the sun from a distance.
Only up close do you notice the subtle different shades of marble, inlaid with precious stones as small creamy marble relief flower freezes surround the building and Arabic calligraphic scroll and zigzag patterns surround the symmetrical archways. All the details are an exercise in perfect symmetry and beauty.
The Taj is cleverly placed on a raised platform at the end of the ornamental gardens so the backdrop is only sky. The misty early morning light makes it even more dreamy and heaven like, indeed the main central dome is supposed to represent the vault of heaven, and the four decorative minarets finish off the scene beautifully.
The red Mughal gateway and identical red sandstone Mosques at either side of the Taj Mahal contrast to bring out the gleaming white domes of the Taj in even more magnificence.
Admittedly, inside was a bit of an anti climax. Inside the mausoleum mainly consists of a dark room with 2 cenotaphs or tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, that are actually fake as the real tombs are under the building closed off to the public.
A hexagonal shaped screen, with elaborately carved marble flower detailing and precious stones, surrounds the cenotaphs. Combined with the crowds and very low light it was near impossible to actually see the tombs or anything much really inside the building.
Did the Taj Mahal live up to the hype?
Back outside the Taj looked somewhat different as the semi translucent marble started to glow in the mid day sun and the white of the building contrasted against the clear bright blue skies beyond.
Sari clad women and photo crazy Chinese and western tourists crawled over the grounds and swarmed around the impressive and imposing building like scurrying ants.
As the crowds grew I took my cue to leave but I was beyond glad that I made the effort to come early as my first glance through the archway with the Taj mingling, ethereally in the early morning mist took my breath away.
This moment alone exceeded all my expectations! It is a truly majestic building, probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but make sure you go early to avoid the crowds spoiling the magic.
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