Four identical gates

Flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok go via Delhi India. I just could not be that close to the Taj Mahal in Agra and not see it. I arrived in Delhi at noon, it took over an hour to clear Immigration, then I stood in line for 3 hours to change money – and after all of that I was only allowed to change $60. I had booked a hotel near the airport. My driver picked me up at 3 am for the 2 – 3 hr. drive to Agra. Arriving in Agra we picked up my guide and went to the Taj for the sunrise. It was almost 9 pm when I got back to the hotel – a long, but wonderful day. I caught a flight to Bangkok the next morning.
The Taj Mahal is considered the most beautiful building in the world and when you see it you understand why.

Up Close Details

It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan and is an Islamic Memorial Tomb for his third wife – his favourite. She died giving birth to their fourteenth child.
It took 22 years to build and was completed in 1653. It required  22,000 construction workers, and 1000 elephants to transport the marble. Prior to the construction of the Taj, the Red Fort was built to house the workers. It had many interesting defence features. There were ramps that could be coated with oil and many positions to drop things on the invaders. There was also a moat filled with salt water crocodiles.
I was so glad I hired a guide as he pointed out so many interesting facts I would have missed. The fact that he was young and cute certainly did not hurt either. The Taj would be considered a modern day engineering marvel. It is perfectly asymmetrical. It was incredible to see how absolutely straight every aspect of it was. You seldom see tiles laid so aligned today. The minarets on the corners are not erect, but for a reason. Each one leans slightly outward. In case of an earthquake, they would fall away from the main structure. There is only one feature that is not asymmetrical and that is his tomb. Her tomb is in the centre, and when he died, his family placed his tomb beside hers to show respect for his great love for her.
The entire structure was designed to be self sufficient. A water catchment system provided water, and a drainage system returned the water to the river. Windows were placed to form a natural air conditioning system. An elaborate type of screen was designed and built to allow the women to be able to see out – but no one could see in to their areas.
The marble used in the construction is translucent. It absorbs the light and seems to glow different colours at different times of the day. In spite of the huge crowds I found it a very peaceful place.

Art from semi-precious stones
Privacy screens for women’s quarters

I also visited the Baby Taj, built earlier.  The entire building is inlaid with semi-precious stones.  Paintings are made with inlaid stones – so beautiful.

My last view of the Taj was through the mist from the Red Fort. It was a perfect ending to a visit to this magical and mystical place.

Cute Guide
Last look