A Trip To The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and it’s no surprise. Spectacular – Incredible – Awe Inspiring. I can’t explain the feeling you get as you approach through the south gate… but of course, I’m getting ahead of myself.

First things first – It’s Tuesday of last week. It’s HOT. Really hot. We’ve all woken up early to make the drive out to the Taj, do some shopping, then get back in time to make out 11pm flight. We’re all very excited – albeit tired from a busy few days of gorgeous wedding ceremonies. Ankush and Lina arrive to pick us up looking bright eyed and bushy tailed (that may be an Aussiism!?). Charlotte and I on the other hand were still trying to re-align our body clocks to Indian time.

The roads are very clear early in the morning, so the drive to Agra went smoothly, with just a couple of stops – one to pick up fresh cut bananas and another for breakfast – Mmmm… We ate these amazing – non-spicy – paratas… the equivalent of a pancake lightly filled with mashed pieces of potato… I chose to spread jam on mine (hey, it’s breakfast right?) and it was goooooood.

Check out this cutie who danced while her brother played a citar style instrument. So sweet.

11india-a young girl in traditional costume busking

01india-working men

While the others were buying bananas, I nabbed this shot. We’re both big fans of trying to keep the environment healthy so it was a bit unsettling for us to commonly see this much litter piled up in places. So much of it was plastic water bottles.

03india-open drains full of rubbish

With of population of over a billion people in a country that would fit 3 times into Canada, it’s no surprise that there is a waste problem (fellow Torontonians know what I’m talking about with our city workers union on strike this week!). I’m not sure how issues like this are dealt with in the long term, but I certainly hope there is a clean up at some point.

As we were traveling on the highway, we captured this rather endearing image of a little girl looking comfortably wedged into a taxi riding on 3 wheels… hold on everyone! Just amazing.

04india-very full 3 wheel motorbike

We got a giggle seeing a bullock going through the toll gate! He wouldn’t have to pay on the 407 ETR unless he’s got a transponder somewhere.

05india-bullock driver goes through tollbooth

We also captured some pretty cool “happy accidents” along the way. I love this one Charlotte took. Cool composition!

07india-a great candid shot of an older indian guy by charlotte

And this interesting character… awesome right?!

08india-charlotte rockin the national geographic skills

This is what you call a traffic jam or “pile up” on the highway. Faster cars, mopeds, 3 wheeled taxis would just weave in and out, around them and give them a little honk.

09india-can you believe this is a highway

As the driver was paying some type of toll, there was a monkey performing tricks for us. I have to say, we were pretty impressed with the backflip. He seemed like he was having a great time doing those tricks and got a bite of a banana for his effort :).

10india-pet monkey does tricks--just crazy

Around the Taj Mahal, there is a no vehicle perimeter now to prevent further discolouration of the white marble. We all jumped in rickshaws and headed in to check it out. It was a downhill run going in, but coming out was a tougher trip. It was hot and he worked so hard we were happy to give him a huge tip!

12india-dave waiting in the rickshaw

As we entered, we were provided an English speaking tour guide that gave us an amazing synopsis of the incredible story behind the building of the Taj Mahal. I will surely mess up the facts slightly, so will quote Wikipedia instead:

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”

While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen.[3] The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri,[4][5] although Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.

And it’s quite a feat of architecture indeed.

13india-the west gate to the taj mahal and the back entrance

Charlotte grabbed this amazing shot as you walk through the gate shown above, you get THIS view……….

15india-the amazing view as you enter the western gate

When we arrived through the tunnel she grabbed this shot too… What an amazing power this place has!

19india-the taj mahal

We were snapping shots of each other there too, and the gardener offered to take one for us – how nice was that?

17india-the gardener took some photos for us - hilarious

Hey, he knows how to use my 5D Mark II… who knew ;)??

18india-ankush, lina, mariana, charlotte and dave at the taj mahal

20india-looking up at the impressive taj mahal

21india-charlotte grabbed this - possible the best photo of the day

22india-looking up at the back entrance to the taj

23india-charlotte and I hanging out at the taj

This is Lina’s cute little girl, Marianna she was so much fun and kept Charlotte and I laughing while away. Isn’t she adorable?? I grabbed these while she was playing tag with me, you can almost hear her giggling!!

24india-mariana was chasing me around and I took these photos from the hip

This is the view from the grounds of the Taj. If you look really close at the shot below you can see some cattle crossing the river, pretty cool eh?

25india-the yamuna river as soon from the taj

26india-charlottes great sillohette shot

On our way back from the Taj, Ankush took us to a great joint on the side of the road, nothing fancy, but boy was it good!!

27india-this was the guy who cooked our lunch on the way home

As the sun set, we headed home and grabbed this one on the way back. I love this shot of the baby riding along shotgun! Something you don’t see everyday… Thanks to Ankush and Lina for the great trip to the Taj, we had a great time. More pics of India and of course their amazing wedding shortly.

28india-dunno how safe this baby seat is