A Black-&-White PHOTO JOURNEY to Taj Mahal in Arga, Uttar Pradesh, India

TAJ is wonderful example of Mughal Architecture and considered as one of the finest creation by Mughals. This Photo Journey shares some of the old photographs of Taj Mahal in different shades of Blacks & Whites.

First photograph of this Photo Journey shows main entry through which we get to see Taj Mahal. This place gives a wonderful view of Taj and especially moment is very precious for folks coming first time to see Taj Mahal in reality. There is huge difference between the Taj we see in photographs and Videos. It's amazing to see it in reality.

Weather of Agra is not very good, but still it gets lot of tourists in every month. It's too hot during summers and foggy in winters. I never visited Agra in Monsoon, so no comments about that :) ... but of-course, monsoons are generally not good to visiting places like Agra. Agra is one of the popular weekend destination for people in Delhi and mostly people prefer to come during winters.

After crossing the main gate, we enter into a huge compound with various gardens around main building of Taj Mahal. There is a water stream in the middle which flows towards entry gate. Reflection photographs of Taj Mahal in this water stream is one of the popular shots, which is tried by almost every visitor of Taj Mahal. In above photograph just notice the alignment of two towers around main dome.  Both of them are not straight and leaning outwards. This was something intentional. 

The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is the most spectacular feature. Its height of around 35 meters is about the same as the length of the base and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical "drum" which is roughly 7 meters high. Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design, which also serves to accentuate its height. The shape of the dome is emphasized by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the onion shape of the main dome. The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindustani decorative elements. (Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_Mahal)

Tourists enjoy hanging around the place and if weather allows, they love to be around for as much time as they can afford. It's not a peaceful place of-course but has some magical environment which pulls people inside this campus and remain there for some time. Usually lot of people can be seen going in and out of Taj Mahal in a day.

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded on three sides by crenelated red sandstone walls, with the river-facing side left open. Back side of Taj gives amazing view of Yamuna River  and lot of open space. Although state of this river is not good, but still it adds lot of value to the surrounding beauty.

Outside the walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives, and a larger tomb for Mumtaz's favourite servant. These structures, composed primarily of red sandstone, are typical of the smaller Mughal tombs of the era. The garden-facing inner sides of the wall are fronted by columned arcades, a feature typical of Hindu temples which was later incorporated into Mughal mosques. The wall is interspersed with domed chattris, and small buildings that may have been viewing areas or watch towers like the Music House, which is now used as a museum.

The Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists from various parts of the world and lot of Indian tourists as well. UNESCO documented more than 2 million visitors in 2001, including more than 200000 from overseas.A two tier pricing system is in place, with a significantly lower entrance fee for Indian citizens and a more expensive one for foreigners. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus. The Khawasspuras (northern courtyards) are currently being restored for use as a new visitor center.

The Taj Mahal incorporates design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings which includes the Gur-e-Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement...

For folks in Delhi/Noida/Gurgaon or other parts of National Capital region, a visit to Taj can be a one day trip. Every time we have visited taj by leaving early in the morning and coming back by late night... Apart from Taj Mahal, there are other places in and around Agra which can be planned. A weekend trip makes more sense for people interested in relaxed trip with more opportunities of exploration.

The interior chamber of the Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. Here, the inlay work is not pietra dura, but a lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones. The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, although only the door facing the garden to the south is used.

To know more about TAJ MAHAL, check out - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_Mahal

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