I have never been a great fan of visiting world famous sites, the 100 things you must see before you die type places. I usually find that I arrive take one look and think “Oh is that it, it’s much smaller than I expected” I buy a postcard and rapidly vanish into the nearest bar with a nice view of the, smaller than expected, 1 in 100 thing I had to do before I died, site. I guess I build the romanticism up in my mind and when I meet the real thing it is just not up to scratch.

The Taj Mahaul is interesting though. We all know the classic image of it, with or without a morose looking late Princess of Wales. Well the architects are extremely clever. They have built a wall around it so that you cannot see it until you reach the main gates which are located behind more walls and then wham it is in your face, the classic image that we have seen so many times. One big reveal in one big hit, now that is architectural showmanship for you.

Click on image to see more photos from this collection.

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Once over this ta-da moment I found myself looking for a suitable seat to look morose on and have my photo taken, but maybe that would have been in bad taste and heh I was all out of morose faces. So I quickly looked around the inside, which has to be the most disappointing inside of any historical building, but the Taj is not about the inside, it is an outside building, an over sized cake decoration swarming with thousands of punters, who just want to eat it. And that is what is nice about the Taj, people fall in love with it, it is all the romance that architecture should be, a befitting gesture to love – the reason it was built in the first place. You can almost hear the collective ahhhh from the hordes of camera clicking Japanese and new money Russians.

To get a really good view, cross the river and see the Taj at sunset. There is a beach, but be careful because this is an open toilet so sandals are not the most suitable attire. Fortunately this aspect does not really come out in the photos. Also the cows that you may see in one of my photos, well they are evil…….I had to make my quick escape, jumping over mounds of poo, as they took offence to being photographed.

 

Some key facts:

The four minarets that surround the Taj lean outwards, so that if there is an earthquake they will not fall inwards on the tomb. Again some very clever architectural design.

The marble is translucent, which is only common to Indian marble. This means that the building changes colour depending on the time of day and weather conditions. Full moon is supposed to be amazing.

The architect, the genius that he is, had his right hand cut off so that he could not design anything else like it. Or so the story goes. Ho, hum, how many other people around at that time have such an ego and the cash to spend 20 years building a mausoleum for their missus.

The masons that repair and service the Taj every Friday (Don’t go on a Friday, it is closed, it is being repaired) and also make the intricate, but tacky gifts that are available everywhere around the city are from the same caste and families that originally built the Taj. All Muslims, they have passed the skill down from father to son over the generations. A bloke in a tacky gift shop told me this, so don’t quote me, but I like this thought so I am going to accept it as the truth.

 

I fell for the Taj, its architecture and what it represents….I am now off to clean my sandals.

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