Taj Mahal

The alarm went off at 530 am, but after a few snooze buttons and cups of chai, we got to the west gate booth at 6. No less than 10 people in front of us, so that was good. I was stoked about watching the sunrise, but got worried when the ticket booth remained closed way past 6:15. Didn’t these people know dawn starts at least 30 minutes before the sun actually peeks from behind the horizon?

We got our tickets 5 minutes before 6:30, the giant gate doors still hadn’t opened, and there was a long, long line (at least 100 deep) of people with pre-bought tickets.

The 750-rupee tickets are one-time only, and nobody’s allowed to bring in food (naturally, given the local penchant for littering). So, unless you’re rolling in rupees, you’re going to have to choose whether to watch the sun warm up the Taj Mahal, or watch the night leach the light from the marble.

At that point, we were going to miss dawn and only see the sunrise, and we (ok, I) were hungry… it just didn’t seem like the best choice anymore. I made the executive decision to hang onto the tickets and get ourselves back into bed for a little more shuteye.

No regrets: the dedication of love that is the Taj Mahal is enough to erase any petty disappointments. I was in love with love, in love with not just a building but the sentiments that went behind the creation of this magnificent edifice.

“Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.” -Sir Edwin Arnold

For those of you who don’t know: the mausoleum was built to honor Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of the Emperor Shah Jahan, who passed away giving birth to their 14th child. She died in 1631, and though construction started a year later, it wasn’t finished until 1653. Not long after its completion, the Emperor’s son, Aurangzeb, rose up from puberty and had his father imprisoned in Agra Fort, across the river. There, Shah Jahan lived out the rest of his days in a cell with a small window that allowed him to look upon his monument of grief.

4 hours passed before we knew it, and we even forgot to hit up the in-house museum… no biggie. I got enough memories to last me a while. And no less than 400 pictures, at that.

Here are a few:

First shot after getting through the sandstone south gate. Only a tiny fraction of all the people I had to elbow out of my way during the course of the afternoon.
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In case you didn’t know where the Taj Mahal is…
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mausoleum closeups. those recesses are called pishtaqs
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intricate marble reliefs– mostly flowers and filigrees
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pietra dura– marble inlay work, mostly flower motifs. It is said there are 35 different precious and semi-precious stones used on the inside and outside. (This is outside)
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view of the courtyard from the plinth of the mausoleum
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2 years with this awesome, bearded fella by my side. (lucky me)
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HDR; AW100
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black and white monochrome feature; AW100
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this asshole (in light blue) is supposed to be a famous photographer. he hogged the best view for the last 2 hours of sunset. “google it” he said (referring to his name). “if i have to google it then you can’t be all that famous,” i said.
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poor, neglected Darwaza-i Rauza–the great gate–forgot to take a photo of it til the end!
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the sequence of pictures from here on may look similar–they are–but most are taken in minute intervals, in an attempt to capture the marble soaking up the fading rays of the sun… some later pics may look lighter than earlier ones, but looking at the light on the left side of the mauseoleum is the teller. (blame it on my auto feature)

just when we arrived, sometime around 2pm
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main difference between this and the next is the reflection of the water
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this is when the sun started getting really low in the sky
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officially dusk (and this is when mister famous finally moved the hell outta dodge)
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taken from the first reflection pool, in front of the great gate
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“You know, Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart? Let the splendor of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish? Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.” -Rabinda Nath Tagore

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