Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Taj Mahal lives up to hype

When I was about 10, my parents enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Children’s book club.  I was an avid reader then, but was content to work my way through the Bobbsey Twins series.  My library had lots of those.  So, I think my parents were trying to expand my reading horizons.  I don’t remember many of those books, but one I do remember was entitled “The Road to Agra.”  It was about an Indian boy and girl walking to Agra.  The subject and cover didn’t appeal to me. It was all so far out of my realm of experience, that it took me quite a while to read it, but when I did I enjoyed it. The description in that book of the Taj Mahal made me want to see it in person some day. At that time I thought that was impossible, but some times things just take time.

 

When Jim told me we might be going to India, I told him I had wanted for years to see the Taj Mahal, so he put that on our agenda.  He’s like that. Before we went, I read some more about the Taj and it all sounded fantastic, till I read some reviews on Tripadvisor.  Some people had been disappointed with the experience, citing crowds, police whistles, aggressive photographers, guides and vendors.  I was prepared to be disappointed. I thought perhaps it wouldn’t live up to expectations.

 

I needn't have worried. The Taj Mahal is a magnificent monument.  It was made of a very hard marble that has endured for years. It was built between 1632 and 1648, as a tomb by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife. We were told that it was looted by various later rulers. Our guide said they removed many of the precious stones and gold and silver that decorated it originally and all that is left is the semi-precious stones.  I need to try to find out if this is true. To the eyes of an amateur and a tourist, the semi-precious ones are still pretty spectacular. 

 

So here are my pictures.  The ones with Jim and me in them were taken by our guide.  He took lots of pictures of us. The only reason we permitted this is that we are not very photogenic, so thought if he tried many times he might get one or two good ones.

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This is the great gate, which is on the South side.  It is built of red sandstone and decorated with marble and semi-precious stones. Most Indians use the West gate, which is closer to public transportation, but we were taken to the East gate.  We didn’t have to wait in line at all, so this worked out well for us.

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Jim and me in front of the great gate.

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Another shot taken across the lawn.

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Some Indian women in beautiful saris.

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We were told the finials were originally gold. We both thought the monument was larger than we were expecting

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A close-up of some of the inlay work. Some of the stones used for the inlay are malachite, lapis lazuli, carnelian, onyx, sapphire and turquoise

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A detail of some of the carving. This marble is very hard and resists wear.

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Two of the 4 minarets

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The Taj is 8-sided, but not a regular octagon. Here you see one of the 4 shorter sides. The main entrance facing South is on the left. Around every one of the large arches is more inlay work. The close-up photo above is from one of the rectangular borders around the lower part in this photo.

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Looking back towards the great gate.

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A red sandstone mosque, on the east side of the Taj Mahal.  An almost identical building on the other side was a guest house.

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From here we went to a restaurant for lunch, the marble factory and then the Agra fort.  Those things deserve another post, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that soon.

5 comments:

James Riehl said...

Amazing! It's great when things like that live up to expectations. So I assume the inside is not open to the public?

Cécile said...

Its open. We did go inside, but they don't allow photos inside. The exterior is more impressive, anyway.

Julie said...

Your photographs are just stunning, Ceci!

I had to laugh about your comment about the Weekly Reader Book Club. My parents enrolled me in it, too. The only book I remember (and still have) is "The Silver Sword".

LRae said...

Your photos are so beautiful Ceci! You have really captured it. So much money spent on it. I can see why the son put a stop to it. We are back from India. We really enjoyed ourselves--very dynamic, interesting, colorful country where EVERYONE wants to be tipped! I would love to compare notes with you.
linda

Cécile said...

Linda, send me an e-mail. csriehl at gmail dot com.