The Wonder that’s The Taj Mahal! Pauli in India – Part 1
Do you have that one place you have always dreamed of visiting? If money was no object what would that place be? How would it feel like? What would you do? Who would you go with? Where would you stay? Well one of the many places I always had on my bucket list was visiting the Taj Mahal in India!
And because it was a Business & Spiritual trip for me, and the children had to start school again, I went to India alone. Julie drew the short straw this time to stay with the little ones and well she swanned off to Tampa Fl without us didn’t she!
My month long trip to India has been an action and fun packed adventure. A chance to explore the rich culture and cuisine of India, while building up my team!
It began with a flight to Delhi, and 3 weeks later a trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”. I must say this was the highlight of my India hiatus and its one trip that truly left a mark in my memories. Interestingly, it was right up NEXT on my bucket list! Hello Universe. THANK YOU!
I also visited some other important monuments in Agra before travelling back to Delhi for a tour of key sites.
The Taj Mahal – When to book!
I made my India tour plans, two weeks in advance. See I had the time on my hands. I learnt that you could take the high speed train to Agra. So I booked the ticket online. This proved quite challenging as you had to have an account…Fortunately a friend had an account to help, only to find that all the trains were fully booked. Apparently these trains are fully booked two to three months in advance!! So my friend advised me to use a tour company that would provide me with a car to pick me from Delhi airport, to Agra where the India Taj Mahal is located and provide me a guide to show me around. I would spend the night in Agra and then be driven back to Delhi the following day to tour the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Humayun’s tomb and the India Gate, before flying back to Pune.
I flew from Pune and got to Delhi at around 7:30am, it was raining and a wee bit cold. The driver from this , Mr Krishna Gupta was waiting for me at the airport.
We headed for the new Yamuna Expressway from Delhi to Agra. This 165 kilometer-long state-of-the art rigid pavement (concrete) highway has six lanes; three each way with a potential for increasing them to eight. It was recently constructed to reduce the travel time between Delhi and Agra. It took us about 2.5 hours including a travel break. The Yamuna Expressway is one of the best highways in India, was not as busy when we used it.
Once we got off the expressway as we entered Agra itself, we got onto a single carriageway that was fully paved with tarmac. However it was a major contrast from the Yamuna Expressway. The area was quite slummed up with shanty buildings quite close to the road. This area is one that requires major investment to improve, considering the role it plays towards leading tourists from all over the world to such an important monument in India!
Close to the site, we had to leave the car at a distance and take a rickshaw. Due to high pollution levels that have over time been discoloring the white marble of the monument, no cars or buses are allowed within a radius of about 500m. In fact, I noticed later on when I got closer to the Taj, that the white marble was being treated to restore its original colour.
A special plaster was being applied to the surface and then carefully removed in a systematic manner so that the paste drew off the discoloration.
At the entrance, foreigners had to pay 750 rupees, about $10 USD. While the locals paid a paltry 20 rupees. BUT the $10 was worth it. While the $10 payers were also given a cold bottle of water and granted fast access via a separate and very short queue, the the locals spent hours in the sweltering sunshine. Waiting in long queues to get to the security check-up gate. Security is taken very seriously and we were all body searched thoroughly before entering the main grounds.
The Taj Mahal – Awe inspiring!
As we approached the main entrance leading to the grounds, I gazed at the majestic exquisitely decorated red stone entrance.
It has profuse inlay work of white marble and precious stones in red sandstone surface, together with inlay of black marble on a white marble surface. These patterns form wonderful flowers symmetrically placed on either side of the centre-line of the main facing wall.
Walking through this entrance, I could barely believe my eyes. Right there in front of me, in beautifully maintained gardens, was the magnificent Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world.
It is a perfect fusion of Indian and Persian architecture. This marvelous structure was constructed with marble by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631 A.D. The Taj, which is universally accepted as the most beautiful structure in the world, was constructed over 22 years to completion in 1648 A.D. by 20,000 labourers and artisans.
A highlight of the Taj is the marble surface inlaid with precious stones that form intricate flowers. The colour of the translucent marble keeps changing as the intensity of the sun varies. This is believed to have been the Shah Jahan’s vision that the Taj and gardens should represent paradise on earth and standout as a symbol of glory and abundance of the Mughal age.
There are fountains and wide shallow water channels in the middle of the main garden which are immaculately maintained.
I stood there almost transfixed as I let the moment sink in. There were plenty of other tourists in awe, yet I felt like I was watching this in solitude…Tapping into the spirit of Abundance and huge love that this symbol represents. Simply amazing!
The gratitude I felt at The Taj Mahal…wow! I then started taking photos to capture different angles and views, just like other tourists were doing. For your pleasure too!
I went past the iconic and popular Princess Diana bench where the late Lady Diana sat and had her photo taken during her trip to India with Prince Charles in 1992. There were so many people queuing up to have their photos taken. So I decided to move on to the main building with a huge dome soaring to a height of 55m and four minarets. This is where the Taj tombs or graves of the Empress Mumtaz and the Emperor Shah Jahan are located, right below the main dome.
I visited the Mahtab-Bagh or the Moon Garden which is located at the back of the Taj Mahal and is a beautiful garden with about 8000 trees and plants from the Mughal repertoire.
These trees offer the perfect protection from the bright sun. The garden was planned, designed and built during the period between 1631 and 1635 A.D. It has a layout that is symmetrical and aligned with centreline of the Taj Mahal.
It was probably named the moon garden due to its ideal location for view the Taj Mahal in the moonlight.
I concluded this trip with a visit to the local artisans nearby. They claim ancestry to the beautiful art of inlay work of precious stones into white marble of the Taj Mahal. The traditional tools that were used back in the days of constructing the Taj, they still use today. They also have some souvenir handicrafts skillfuly made and memorabilia for sale.
Well as I wrote this post I got to nostalgic, that I know I will be taking my beloved family to India too for a dreamtrip soonest! In the next Two Series I will share with you some less known sights that you could add to your list!
So did I get you to see this amazing structure that’s the Taj Mahal through my eyes? Have you ever been to the Taj Mahal or India as a whole? If not then you absolutely must add it to your bucket list. And if you enjoyed this, then do consider liking, share and tell us your insights or experiences below!
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