the Taj Mahal

Once I finally cleared the queue outside and was able to make it into the Taj complex I worked my way towards one of the gates (below).

View of the Taj Mahal was blocked by the tall wall that ran from gate to gate so that it could not be seen at all until you walked through the gate.

Along with all of the other tourists, I peered through the dark gate to see the glowing white Taj Mahal as it peeked through the tunnel.  The way it was hidden from view until you came through the gateway was quite clever.  As I (and the rest of the tourists) passed through the gate and the Taj came into full view I could hear audible “oohs” and “aaahs,” as we all gazed upon the magical beauty of this amazing building.

Once clear of the main gate the Taj came into full view and I paused to take some photos.  The grounds were green and manicured to perfection; beautiful fountains ran from the entrance gate to the front of it and the beauty of the place was really something else.  I was truly awe-struck by the beauty of it.  As I walked closer I enjoyed the view of the Taj as well as its reflection in the beautiful fountains that surrounded it.

Looking back from the Taj Mahal towards the entrance gate, I shot the photo below that shows the courtyard and fountains.  Looking towards the right I took the second photo of the west gate as the sun began to set behind it.

Regarded as the most beautiful Moghul building, the Taj Mahal incorporates Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.  It is actually a crypt for the body of Mumtaz Mahal, the late wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.  It’s construction was begun in 1632 and completed in 1658.  When Mumtaz Mahal died bearing their 14th child, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken and directed the Taj to be build in her honor.  Her sarcophagus lays inside where today, curious tourists go inside and ignore the signs and guards warnings not to take photos.  There were so many flash photos going off that the room was almost continually illuminated.  Later, after his death, he was interred next to her so that both the Emperor and Empress now rest inside of the beautiful white domed building.

He had intended to build an exact copy of the building on the other side of the river, but in black marble and have his own body placed inside.  In this way, he and his wife’s crypts would look across the river to each other through the ages.  His son thought that these plans were too extravagant and had his father imprisoned in the Red Fort forever ending the Emperor’s plans to build a second Taj.  In proper Islamic style, the Taj is surrounded by 4 minarets, each standing more than 120′ tall.

I was most impressed with the decorative inlays on the Taj.  The fine white marble was cut and beautiful jade, yellow marble, and jasper were inlaid creating a fine trim as I have ever seen.

Along the edges of the building, Suras (versus) of the Koran are inlaid in the same manner as the decorative designs and flowers.

The beautiful Arabic calligraphy (seen running vertically in the left side of the photo below) that was inlaid represent these Suras from the Koran:

Surah 91 – The Sun
Surah 112 – The Purity of Faith
Surah 89 – Daybreak
Surah 93 – Morning Light
Surah 95 – The Fig
Surah 94 – The Solace
Surah 36 – Ya Sin
Surah 81 – The Folding Up
Surah 82 – The Cleaving Asunder
Surah 84 – The Rending Asunder
Surah 98 – The Evidence
Surah 67 – Dominion
Surah 48 – Victory
Surah 77 – Those Sent Forth
Surah 39 – The Crowds

After spending hours gazing at the beauty of the Taj Mahal, the guards notified everyone that it was closing.  We all took our leisure as we slowly walked towards the exit.  I stopped repeatedly to look back and gaze at it as the sun set and it glowed in the dim light of dusk.  I rested my camera on one of the fountain steps and captured this photo before I finally departed.


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