Romancing Taj Mahal, History and More

One of my very good friends “Bhuvan Gupta” is a major buff about Mughal architecture, Mughal history and the Taj Mahal at Agra. As much as me, he loves to travel too. Albeit, most of his travel itinerary would include visits to places of historic importance. Mughal history and the story of this monument, to me, is a subject that I would really not be able to elaborate more upon. Thus I requested Bhuvan, to write a guest post for Pixellicious and I’m glad he agreed and, I knew he would, considering the madness he carries about this wonder of the world.

 

Bhuvan Gupta at Taj Mahal, Agra

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So here is what Bhuvan Gupta has to say about his experience with Taj Mahal, Agra and Mughal history.

When I was approached to write about Mughal architecture and history, I was pleasantly amused. Being a Mughal history buff, my vacations and my personal reading collection is mostly centered around, the glorious Mughal architecture and their lives. Sometimes much to the annoyance of my wife. Allow me to take you to a journey through the mystical city of Agra. When we speak of Mughal architecture and Agra, undoubtedly the first picture that comes to our mind is Taj Mahal. And this is exactly what I am going to write about. Shahjahan, the Mughal emperor commissioned and built this monument at Agra. The entire monument was built in a span of approximately 20 years from 1632 to 1652. It is one of the many monuments in India built by emperor Shahjahan himself, his predecessors and his successors. Built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal is one of its kind.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

About our visit to Taj Mahal

It was a pleasant summer morning when we decided to visit this place. I would advise to schedule your visit early in the morning, to avoid the crowd that follows in the day. The queue of visitors at the Taj Mahal can be a real big one. After a wait at the queue we found that we could not carry water or any eatables inside the complex so we had to leave them at the security desk. As we proceeded we were surrounded by a lot of guides and photographers wanting to show us around the place. Though my love for Mughal architecture and history is an open secret, my wife was a bit skeptical, that I may not know as much as a guide would And thus, we hired a guide. When you first approach the Taj Mahal, you manage to catch a tiny glimpse of it as you pass through the narrow door of a slightly lower height. You have to bend a little to pass through the door. The idea here is that it serves a kind of respect to the deceased that you bow towards their final resting place.

Taj Mahan Entrance Queue
Taj Mahan Entrance Queue

Enter this door and you arrive to the main complex to see it in its grand splendor. It was really overwhelming for me to be looking at a Mughal architectural marvel which is also one of he seven wonders of the world. This where the cameras and the humans behind the cameras go berserk as well. Taj Mahal, Agra can be a photographers delight. Photos start getting clicked rapidly digital cameras, professional DSLRs, phone cameras, traditional cameras get held up to capture what the eye is seeing.

I too went berserk as well trying to capture what I was seeing. Eventually I left the clicking part to my wife sat down to soak in the raw beauty of Taj Mahal. Something that will remain in my heart more than a click. The raw beauty had me awestruck completely and I couldn’t take my eyes away. Eventually it required a subtle reminder from my wife for us to move ahead to explore further. Despite the fact that I was reluctant to do so. Slowly as the beauty begins to reveal itself, the view that lies ahead of us, is what the holy book of Emperor describes as heaven.  Arriving closer, we find that the 4 minarets seem to be slightly tilted away from the main structure. As explained by our guide, that is not an architectural error. The idea behind the outward tilt, as per our guide was that in case of a natural calamity such as earthquake, the minarets would fall away from the main structure, hence keeping it safe and unharmed.

Visitors at Taj Mahal, Agra

As we start walking towards the main structure, I noticed co-visitors. The crowd was full of people of different nationalities, color, race. but all of them bound together by the very fact that everybody had the same kind of excitement to see the grand monument.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

In recent years the Government of India has also built a small museum inside the main complex which is also a short but delightful worthwhile visit. As we get closer to the main complex we learn that footwear is not allowed beyond a certain point. Those who can afford to brave the hot scorching marble floor or freezing cold depending on the weather choose to deposit their shoes at a locker and the rest of the people are provided with some kind of a weather to cover their footwear. My wife and I decided to be the brave ones and decided to go barefoot. We climbed the stairs to reach a veranda of sorts. This place surrounds the main area where lies the final resting place of the queen Mumtaz Mahal and the Mughal emperor Shahjahan himself. This entire part is a marble structure covered with delicate work of flowers carved onto it. This used to be inlaid with precious stones but all carried away by invaders.

 

Yamuna River Near Taj Mahal
Yamuna River Near Taj Mahal

On one side of this beautiful monument flows, the river Yamuna. The guide informed us that the emperor’s approach was via water. Soon we decided to enter the main area where the graves lie. The entrance is carved with the verses from the holy book. Photography is officially prohibited in this area and visitors are just quickly rushed through. Entrance to this area was earlier open to visitors in as our guide pointed to us, but was later blocked for safety reasons. We noticed that lot of people were throwing coins and notes on the graves. I was told by the guide that it is believed that this action fulfills wishes. I didn’t want to do something like that. Not that I don’t have wishes but I believe that one should have respect for the deceased be it an emperor or a man on the street. Once again, I would like to reiterate that usage of camera in this area is strictly prohibited.

Taj Mahal in Recent Times

I would like to also mention a few things about what is Taj Mahal is like, today. Due to industrial pollution the gleaming white marble is turning yellow. Though government has now put a stop to it. But some permanent damage has already been done. The glorious Yamuna has been depleted of its pure water again due to dumping of industrial waste which once again the government did not managed to curtail in time. It would be unfair to blame the government alone. We the people have forgotten to take care of our own cities and our historic monuments. People in our country have become somewhat indifferent to what is happening to others. Unless it affects them directly. This should however not dissuade people from the grand monument, Taj Mahal. One should still visit it for the raw beauty of it still takes away the heart and soul of a man. It took away mine leaving me wanting a bit more…

Entry Fee at Taj Mahal

  • ₹  1000 for Foreign Tourists
  • ₹ 530 for Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries
  • ₹ 40 for Indian Citizens

Visiting Timings at Taj Mahal

  • Open from Sunrise to Sunset during operating days.
  • Closed on Fridays for general viewing. Remains open on Friday afternoon for people who have to attend the prayers at the Taj Mosque.
  • No cap on the amount of time a tourist can spend inside the main complex within the normal operating hours.

Three ticket outlets at Taj Mahal

  • Western Gate
  • Eastern Gate
  • Southern Gate

For more details please visit the official website of Taj Mahal Monument.

Taj Mahal, Agra on Google Map

Photos from Taj Mahal, Agra

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017-2018 Kalpesh Ajugia

46 thoughts on “Romancing Taj Mahal, History and More”

  1. Beautifully narrated. No one can describe Taj Mahal and Agra better than you. You are a true lover of Mughal history.
    I suggest you to write a book or something of your own.

    1. That’s a great complement. I always wanted to write a book on the Mughal history. Never thought I could write well though. Still skeptical, but would at least get started now.

  2. When I was in grade school I used to hear about Taj Mahal as a symbol of great love. I’m so happy to have read this great love story again and the story behind this beautiful historical place. This has long been penned on my bucket list and I can’t wait to visit it sooner. Thank you so much for being so detailed with your experiences and the history details of it as well.

    1. My pleasure. Always happy to share a Mughal story. This story has been told countless times, the charm of it however always remains the same. I think you should visit it sooner. And post pictures for all of us and I would love to know your experience of Tajmahal as well.

  3. Taj Mahal is about the only thing we know about India when we were kids. Yes, it is that popular and unique, not to mention, it is magnificent. I think you did a great job writing this post. In fact, I think it is exceptionally well written. Good job.

    I do have one question. Why are shoes not allowed?

    1. Thanks for your comment Robert. I’ll let Bhuvan to take over responding to queries which he is better equipped to respond to. I completely agree that the article is beautifully written and does complete justice by complimenting to the beauty of Taj Mahal 🙂

    2. Hi Robert Tajmahal has a mosque built in the complex. In eastern faith such as temples and mosques footwear is not allowed as it’s a sign of disrespect. Hence the same are not allowed.

  4. Beautifully put it together…. YET AGAIN!

    I have read about Taj Mahal a billion times, but this first hand account of Taj Mahal is a refreshing change. It almost makes the magic of Taj Mahal come alive! It almost takes you back to its serene and peaceful beauty. As if I can see it again, yet again!

    Beautifully put together in words and in pictures. Kudos Mr. Bhuvan Gupta !!

    1. Like I always tell people Veena… Sometimes these things have to be experienced, thinking of how it would be back then when it was being made or how it was when the Emperor would visit it. Lets make a bucket list of these exotic places and visit them one by one.

  5. I envy my friends who’ve already visited Taj Mahal. Is it true that Taj Mahal could collapse in five years? I think I saw a viral video in Facebook inviting people to visit this place before it’s too late. I hope it’s not true. Looking forward to visiting this place soon and I would keep in mind what you said about the perfect time to visit Taj Mahal.

    1. Alaine, while reading your comment, I feel a bit ashamed that even I haven’t visited Taj Mahal despite being in india 🙁 but I’ve sure planned it for my vacation that’s coming soon…. And about collapsing I seriously believe it to be a hoax or a rumor.

      @Bhuvan?

    2. Alaine. Its just a rumor. I read somewhere about it collapsing in next 30-40 years. So rumors will be rumors. I would say when you plan your visit, let it not be a rushed one. Give yourself enough time to soak in the beauty of not just Tajmahal, but other Mughal monuments as well around you.

  6. Oh wow!!! I haven’t read much about the Taj Mahal and your post gave me enough perspective about it. Your writing shows how much you really love the place and its history. 🙂 You’ve given handy visiting hours tips too, so that’s a plus!

  7. Its been ages, exactly it was just after my 12th std I visited Taj Mahal. I was in Delhi to attend my college interview and that was my first time in Delhi. So we overstayed and did a day trip to Agra. Its so magnificent and its just mindblowing! The sheer size of the Mughal architecture is just wow. Honestly, I loved Fatehpur Sikri much more than the Taj!

  8. Wah Taj… Ustad Bhuvan Gupta…. No one can like Taj Mahal and Agra, the way you like it… I remember you asking me so frequently, almost every day, about Taj Mahal and Agra city when I visited the same last December. You asked me the same question twice or thrice in an a day and also asked me to share my review. Before visiting Taj Mahal, I would wonder how someone could like Taj Mahal and Agra city to such a level as you do. But, “Mr.Bikaji”, let me tell you, yes, Taj Mahal is a really beautiful place. Sirf Yamuna ki Safai karvao bhai… Nice Information. You should try to keep in touch with our Archaeology department and preserve our ( it’s only yours) Taj Mahal and Agra City for a Long time…

    1. Thanks Pavan, here is a surreal trivia. The current Superintending Archaeologist for ASI Agra Circle for Dr. Bhuvan Vikram. & “Bhuvan Vikram” is the name which my father wanted to keep for me. But “Vikram” was later dropped for reasons which only he could tell.

  9. Taj Mahal is such a beauty. And to be able to see it up close, you’re so lucky! You captured the place in a very nice way. The beauty can be seen from the pictures and it makes me want to go there right now! I love places like this where people can also learn from the history.. One day, I will definitely go here.

    1. Amen to that. You should most definitely go there. So much history can teach us. But we almost always fail to learn from it.

  10. Taj Mahal is probably the most popular and earliest fact I learned about India. As I grow older, I appreciate its story and how it is related to love. Incidentally, “Mahal” means love in Filipino. May I know how early did you go to Taj Mahal to avoid the long queue?

    1. Cleri. Tajmahal opening hours are decided on the local time of sunrise and sunset. I suggest you reach about an hour before that. Also “Taj” means crown in Hindi. So how amazing is that Taj Mahal could mean Crown Of Love … in a way, when we try to describe it in our respective languages. Such an apt title I am sure even the Mughal Emperor never saw it coming.

  11. Very intresting to read. It is also great to know that you could brave a summer morning at Taj Mahal. I want to visit this beautiful place in winter next.

  12. Is re-entry allowed in Taj Mahal? You mentioned that “No cap on the amount of time a tourist can spend inside the main complex within the normal operating hours” but then water and food are not allowed the premise. So, for sure, I’ll find myself going to eat and hydrate especially when it’s hot. I’m happy that you gave an honest feedback about the place. Despite its degradation, I believe you that it’s still worth a visit.

  13. Ketan Bhandarkar

    Very beautifully written Bhuvan. It just seemed that we were on this mesmerizing trip. Start writing a travel blog Bhuvi. Bahut Ache!!

  14. I’ve heard so many stories about the Taj Mahal. It’s a real relationship goal. I just wish I could really reach that place soon but I really need to save first. 🙂 It’s just such an amazing place and landmark! 🙂

  15. Taj mahal is famous. I only see it on the books, photos and some other blogs. I wonder if it would be easy to go there from the philippines. Like is there a visa needed, just passport? Itinerary and the like. Ill research. Haha. I hope to see itineraries.

  16. Bhuvan, a well written experience, a monument like Taj needs words of an expert in Mughal architecture, history, and culture. The personal experience that was put in this particular visit to a mesmerizing monument is what makes this article/blog interesting. No time would be sufficient to admire this teardrop on the cheek on time.

  17. Taj Mahal is one of the most popular places to go to in India. It is a sacred place that most Muslims dream of visiting. I have heard so much about Taj Mahal, its wonder, and its beauty. Though I haven’t personally seen it myself, seeing photos and hearing my friends talk about it help me imagine how it would look like in actual. I haven’t had any plans to visit Taj Mahal yet, but I hope I’ll be able to do so one day because traveling around the world is one of my dreams! This definitely is in one of my tops in my bucket list.

  18. I love that your wife couldn’t quite trust your judgement so you got a guide even though you are an expert! It’s really interesting that the minarets slant slightly, I had no idea about that and it is a very clever idea. Lucky there have been so serious earthquakes there! Shame that it is now turning yellow, modern life is ruining lots of our historical monuments.

  19. This is an informative post. Not only did you describe what we will see in Taj Mahal but also the situation when you were there, to prepare future visitors for such scenarios. I recently joined a contest to India, but that’s in Kerala. I hope that some day I’ll be able to see the beauty of Taj Mahal up close as this is one of the places I want to visit in my lifetime.

  20. This is beautifully written. I know Taj Mahal through books but the detailed post made it seemed like I am getting to know more about this magnificent architecture. I hope the government as well as the people can do something about what’s going on to actually preserve this architecture. That way the next generations can still awe in wonder with this beautiful place. 🙂

  21. I have heard so much about Taj Mahal. Even stores in Sweden here are called like that. It’s such an impressive building! Beautiful to have seen this from close by!

  22. Ah, the historic Taj Mahal, this place is on my bucket list. It’s so beautiful. Not only it’s beautiful physically, the story behind it is beautiful as well. The queue is pretty long. But it’s good that there are no photo bombers in the picture with the building.

  23. Beautifully written and very informative as well! Those bits about the Mughal history got me really fascinated — I always enjoy learning those facts! It’s unfortunate that some people don’t know how to preserve historical facts like this. Sadly, I’d heard about the deteriorating circumstance there in Taj Mahal, though it will never hinder my wanting to visit it there someday. Hopefully the government will do its best to preserve it, too, because I would want to visit there soonest 🙂

  24. I would love to visit the Taj Mahal, too. I think it would be best to visit this when our children are a bit older so they could be more behaved. They could also endure the long lines if they are older! Otherwise, my husband and I would be too tired to explore after carrying them while waiting in line! hahaha

  25. Beautifully written… There is no comparison of Taj..Its beauty is beyond words…but you have written it so well about it,with every single detail is commendable..
    After reading your blog I personally feel everyone should once visit Taj mahal to admire its utmost beauty..
    My visit to Taj is also pending..hope to see it soon….

  26. When i was still studying, whenever i hear about Taj Mahal i always picture myself wearing the national costume and having my photographs taken together with my loved one at that edifice. It has always been my dream to really visit the place someday. I love the story behind Taj Mahal and i admire you for narrating it very well. The photographs were all lovely too…

  27. We had Taj Mahal as a lesson back in my elementary days. I must admit its such a beautiful sight and there’s no denying of how majestic Taj Mahal is but there’s a dark past behind it too. Anyway, it’s definitely not good to hear that it’s starting to turn yellow but I’m glad that the government is paying attention to it. 🙂

  28. I’ve wanted to see India someday especially this Taj Mahal. I have a blogger friend who just went there and I can see a terrible smog in all her photos. It’s sad to see but I hope that something is being done to reduce that. Taj Mahal is very beautiful and we the people or tourist, and not just the government, must take care of it. You narrated your travel story so well. I enjoyed reading it.

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