Now that I’ve revealed my upcoming travel plans I’ve been getting a little nostalgic about the places I’ve already seen, as well as getting excited about the places I’m yet to visit. In 2015 I took a three month sabbatical and one of the places I travelled was India. India has always been top of my bucket list, I couldn’t wait to throw myself into the vibrant culture, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that incredible country had to offer.
Top of my list was seeing the infamous Taj Mahal, we left it until last as it’s only a relatively short (by India standards) day trip from Delhi which was the final stop on our route. I’m so glad we left it until the end of the trip as it was the perfect way to say goodbye to this beautiful country.
Once you get to the Taj Mahal you have to queue up through security and get your tickets, you can’t yet see the Taj which is quite a cool way of building the anticipation. There are a lot of beggars and touts outside of the Taj complex and one of the main things they were selling were Taj Mahal snowglobes, which I thought was an odd choice given the climate. The touts aren’t allowed inside the main complex though so once you’ve passed through security you can rest assured that you won’t be hassled.
Walking through the main gate you’re greeted by the perfect view of the Taj Mahal framed by the arch of the gate.
It was a slightly odd day weather-wise when we visited as it started off very bright and sunny and then became quite overcast, hence the inconsistent and moody skies in these pics.
We learned that the Taj Mahal was built in memory of the Maharajah Shah Jahan’s 3rd and most favourite wife who, when she was dying, made him promise three things. One, don’t marry again, two, look after the children, and three, make something beautiful in my memory. In fulfilling this final request he commissioned the building of Taj Mahal which took 22 years to complete. The monument and complex is full of meaning. There are 22 domes on the main gate, due to the 22 years it took to build. There are 16 gardens reflecting the fact that it was built in the 16th century, and there are two fancy gate buildings framing the Taj Mahal in memory of the Maharajah’s other two wives, who let’s be honest were probably pretty peeved that they were honoured with just a gate.
Despite all the crowds, it’s actually a very peaceful setting thanks to the beautiful landscaped gardens and fountains. As I mentioned touts aren’t allowed inside the complex, but you can pay people to take your photos on the ‘Diana bench’ the marble bench on a platform in front of the Taj Mahal, where she famously posed.
Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge the fact that by this point I’d been travelling around very hot countries for three months and yet I’m still almost as pale as ever.
As we approached the Taj itself I was surprised that it was smaller than I expected, I’ve found that to be the case with a lot of famous sights I’ve seen. It’s no less impressive though, and the intricate marble carvings are beautiful to see up close. As you can see from these pics, it’s more of a yellow rather than the bright white which I’d expected.
The Taj backs onto the river, there had been plans for an identical black Taj Mahal on the other bank to act as it’s mirror image, but the Maharajah’s son abandoned those plans when he took power, fearing it would be a waste of public money.
The Taj Mahal itself is actually a mausoleum, you have to wear shoe covers to protect the marble when you walk up to the main building. You can’t take photos inside it the tomb which is a large shady room with latticed windows looking into antechambers. In the centre surrounded by a lattice fence are two tiny marble sarcophaguses which were so short and skinny!
It was such a contrast from the serene grounds as the echoing voices of visitors created an almost deafening wave of noise in the room.
I had no idea this Indian lady was here until after we’d taken the picture, everytime we stopped to relax we did get approached to take a lot of photos. You have to be careful not to say yes too often or you get mobbed.
Whilst we didn’t have the patience to queue for a photo at the ‘Diana bench’ but we spotted this decidedly less fancy one as we were leaving so did our own version of her famous photo. The actual bench is on that raised marble platform behind me.
So that’s the Taj Mahal, I can totally see why it’s considered a wonder of the modern world and I’m so glad I got the chance to visit it. Do you have any travel bucket list sights? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
Love, Sarah x