The Greatest Ode to Love, The Taj Mahal, Agra, India


Our travels to New Delhi had us visiting the world famous Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is one of those locations in the world that every serious traveller has to go and visit at least once. During our visit, we were able to take in all the major features of the palace, and happened to enjoy our visit on a day that didn’t have all too many visitors.

This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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The Greatest Ode to Love, The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

“The world’s greatest gesture at love that resulted in one of the world’s most iconic structures”

After our drive from New Delhi to Agra, on arrival to Agra, we picked up our local guide Ran at the Trident Hotel. We had our introductions and a quick washroom break after the 3 hour drive. We then traveled onward to East gate of the Taj Mahal. We had an airport styled security screening prior to entry.  

About the Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their fourteenth child. Her death left the emperor so heart broken, he decided to build a memorial and mausoleum in her memory. Construction took about 22 years until his son Aurangzeb over threw him in 1658 and kept him imprisoned in the Agra Fort on the other side of town. He passed away in 1666 and was entombed next to his wife underneath the Taj Mahal. 

Our visit started with the outer area of the entrance of the Taj Mahal. Of most interest with the outer area, we had a description of the inlaid calligraphy. The Islamic calligraphy was carved out of marble and inlaid in marble. Most interesting, the marble of the calligraphy was enlarged in size the higher up the sides of the arch way so that it would have an even and uniform appearance on the way up- despite the larger distance from the focal point.

Exterior Gates
Taj Mahal Outer Gates
Outer Gates with Inlaid Calligraphy in the Tiles
Inlaid calligraphy examples

The islamic calligraphy was quite impressive and would have taken months if not years to complete. The work was intricate and detailed.

Islamic Calligraphy
Detailing on the Scripture was exceptionally detail oriented

Viewing the Taj Mahal:

We entered in the main Taj Mahal compound area. We were fortunate that we didn’t have a busy day. The Taj Mahal is a beautiful structure to look at. It’s unlike any other building in the world, set among a fabulous love story behind it’s creation. The grounds are set amongst Persian styled gardens. Of interest is that the minarets that grace each of the four corners are slightly angled to fall outwards in the event of an earthquake so that they won’t destroy the Taj Mahal itself. The raised position of the building means that the only backdrop of the Taj Mahal is the sky. 

We finally made it
Persian Gardens in front of the Taj Mahal
A Gorgeous Building and a tribute towards love

Despite it’s overall awesomeness, I was expecting a little bit more. I’ve been describing our visit as “similar to seeing the Effiel Tower in Paris for the second time”. You recognize it from every postcard and photograph and when you see it- there it is. The best thing to do is to notice the features of the attraction prior to visiting so you can appreciate the attraction’s nuances. 

Beautiful Domes and Minarets
Intricate calligraphy on the structure

The Taj Mahal is said to feature intricate carvings that contain over 35 different precious and semi precious stones forming marble inlay work. The “peitra dura” is found on the inside and outside of the masoleum walls. 

Prints and calligraphy detailing surround the arches
Beautiful White Structures

Like on our outer Taj Mahal visit, the calligraphy was in laid directly into the stone, making the construction of this palace all that more impressive.

Inlaid detailed mosaics featuring flowers

We had a walk around the outside of the Taj Mahal structure, and eventually made it inside through the mausoleum. Photography is prohibited but I did sneak this photograph. The actual mausoleum is a level below so the one pictured here is supposedly a copy. 

Mausoleum Replica at the Taj Mahal

Another interesting feature of the Taj Mahal is of the red sandstone mosque on the West side of the Taj Mahal property. It’s made interesting as the designers built an identical empty mosque, the jawab that doesn’t face Mecca, on the oppsite side of the Taj Mahal for symmetry purposes.

The Mecca facing Mosque on the West Side of the Taj Mahal

Along with the identical copy on the East side that is empty.

A replica copy on the east side

Our entertaning tour guide asked that I take this photograph and post it to the Tourism India facebook page. He was frustrated that tourists (and guides) have to undergo an intensive security screening for every visit. Instead, this random dog is able to enter the Taj Mahal, likely unchallenged. He thought that this might embarrass the Indian government into actually providing proper security. 

A random dog enjoying a bath

MrsWT73 continued her popularity streak by posing for more photographs with all whom would ask. 

Photographs with Westerners
More photographs with the same family

We took a final look at the Taj Mahal adjacent to the courtyards before we left. 

Lavish Courtyards
Impressive Standstone

My thoughts on seeing The Taj Mahal:

The opportunity to see the Taj Mahal is a once in a lifetime experience. Similar to seeing other landmark tourist attractions, it was a little underwhelming at first, after you’d travelled all the way in order to see it. Having spent some time enjoying the Taj Mahal, and understanding its unique features, it allowed us a greater appreciation of the site. Looking back on the day, I really enjoyed the memory of our visit and was happy we made the long worldwide trip to see one of the greatest testaments to love that exist in modern history.

If you’ve travelled to see the Taj Mahal, how did you find your experience?

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