Visit Agra - Home to India's rich Mughal history Part 1: The Taj Mahal
Visiting Agra felt like time travelling to a historical era we've read so much in our history textbooks. One cannot stop imagining what life was over 500 years ago when this region was known to be having the best of Mughal dynasty brimming with development and splendid culture.
Known to be one of the greatest contribution to Indo-Islamic architecture, the mighty Taj Mahal stands glowing as the monument of eternal love. The breeze from the ancient royal atmosphere gave me the thrilling chills of historical romance. Here stood a mighty mark of a King's love so deep, a wonder made of stones so expensive, a monument that has witnessed the sweat of several thousands of workers for decades, all for a queen who wouldn't even see this creation even once.
Reaching the Taj takes about 4 hours of driving from the Delhi airport to Agra, a city in Uttar Pradesh. In spite of being a very old town with less infrastructure, people from all over the world flock to witness this world wonder.
The ideas in the entire construction and planning is beyond remarkable considering those olden times. There is a majestic entry gate made of red sandstone which is quite a work of art itself. It is inscribed with verses from the Holy Quraan which are written in smaller letters on the bottom and sides while being larger on the upper portion so it looks uniform size to the viewer standing in front.
The other amazing fact is that the big arched entrance of this gate is parallel and opposite to that of the Taj Mahal. There is a beautiful optical illusion we can witness as we enter the gate. With each step you take, The Taj Mahal's arched parallel entrance looks like it is shrinking giving us a complete view of the Taj just as we exit the red entrance gate. Rather brilliant thought!
On a close look we can notice that the 4 pillars on the corners of are slightly tilted outwards. This was apparently made that way so in case of a disaster, the pillars wont fall on the main mausoleum. (As told to me by the guide)
Seeing the Taj Mahal in all its glory was like entering a different world. The long garden has a canal like tank with fountains lined with trees on either side of it.
Only when you move closer will you understand that the work of art is far more than just white marble. Intricate floral patterns and Arabic verses adorn the walls of the Taj both in and out. Although it may look like paintings on the wall, as you look closely you can find each petal from all those thousands of floral is an individually carved piece of semi precious stone.
We did not understand the seriousness of the craftsmanship until we had a later visit to an old marble artefacts store cum workshop. It is owned by a family who are descendants of the workers that did the artwork on the walls of the Taj. The reason that amazed me was that the craftsmen were using the very same techniques and types of tools that their forefathers had used centuries ago.
It was very interesting to see all the processes from prepping the marble pieces to carving each little piece of the pattern to fixing and creating patterns into the white marbles to finally smoothening the entire marble to make it look like it has been painted. Quite a labor intensive task! A tiny coffee table takes about 2-3 months to be completed with the help of 3-4 workers. You can only imagine why they required so many thousands of workers and so many years to finally finish the majestic Taj Mahal!
Apparently most of the colored stones used on the Taj Mahal were precious stones, which were stolen by the British when they invaded India. (As told to me by the local guide)
Photography was prohibited inside the Taj, but upon entering the chamber I could feel my goose bumps and inner chills rising. There lied in the center, side by side the tombs of the infamous royal couple. There are lots to know about the interiors of the Taj, best explained while you are in there with a local guide. Using a torch, he will be able to show you clearly how light passes through the wall art and makes them shine in hues of reds blues and greens! He will also be able to show you the amazing echo that apparently served the purpose of a microphone. There are also other interesting geometrical and architectural patterns that you will only notice when pin pointed by a local guide. (As learnt from the local guide)
How to get there: 4 hours drive from Delhi airport. A car arranged by the travel agent is the most comfortable mode of journey.
Where to stay: The Oberoi Amarvilas – it is just 600 metres from the iconic Taj Mahal. Each rooms have an uninterrupted view of this ancient monument to love, while elements of the layout and design pay homage to its Mughal splendour. By day, guests can travel in our private golf buggies to the Taj Mahal. At night, they can savour a candlelit dinner beside its soft silhouette. The call to prayer from the Taj mosque is simply divine!
There are also other 3* and 4* properties depending on individual budget.
Best time to visit: The weather is loveliest from November until March. Pleaseresorte that Taj Mahal is closed on all Fridays due to Jumaah prayer. So plan your visit accordingly.
Creative Holidays India offer amazing rates throughout the year to Agra and all over India and abroad.
For enquiries contact: email@example.com