Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Prince Khurram, as Shah Jahan was known before becoming the fifth Mughal Emperor, fell in love with the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum (later known as Mumtaz Mahal - the Chosen One) and married her, making her his third (and favourite) wife.

Muntaz Mahal died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. Whether she asked for it or not, the emperor decided to build an immense mausoleum to honour the memory of his beloved. The result is an elegy in marble, the finest example of Mughal architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a symbol of endless love and a magnificent monument that astonishes anyone who experiences a visit there!

Built between 1631 and 1653, the entire complex consists of five major components, namely Darwaza (the main gateway), Bageecha (the beautifully laid out walled gardens), Masjid (the mosque), Naqqar Khana (the rest house) and Rauza (the mausoleum). Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort, from where he could see the Taj Mahal. Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the Taj next to his wife.

The white marble structure acquires different shades at different times of the day and with changing seasons. And of course, the top experience would be, according to the chronicles, the moonlit night view of the Taj. However, that seems to be impossible, as the monument is closed for public viewing at night. A true fairy tale!

"DARWAZA - The Taj gateway is a tall niche doorway in the shape of an ogival arch that rises till the mid-height of the structure"

"DECORATION - With a vertical symmetry, the main gateway stands bordered with Arabic calligraphy of verses from the Quran, made up of black stone. Flowers, leaves and vines ornament the sides of the niche. These motifs were formed by semi-precious stones inlaid in the marble"

"DARWAZA - The main gateway seen from the middle platform in the gardens. A bit misty..."

"MOSQUE - On the western side there is a red sandstone mosque used for prayer purposes. Adorned with pietra dura on the outside, the mosque has four octagonal towers and three domes"

"NAQQAR KHANA - Opposite to the mosque, on the eastern side, there is the rest house, a twin of the mosque. It is built exactly like the mosque, and people believe that it was constructed to conserve the symmetry of Taj Mahal"





"COMING CLOSER - The tomb stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an arch-shaped doorway, topped by a large dome"





"MAIN IWAN - An iwan is defined at Wikipedia «as a vaulted hall or space, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open». A trademark of the Persian Sassanid architecture, iwans became a fundamental unit in Islamic architecture"

"EXTERIOR DECORATION - Borrowing from Wikipedia «The exterior decorations of the Taj Mahal are among the finest to be found in Mughal architecture. [...] The decorative elements were created by applying paint or stucco, or by stone inlays or carvings. In line with the Islamic prohibition against the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs. The calligraphy found in Taj Mahal are of florid thuluth script[...]. Higher panels are written slightly larger to reduce the skewing effect when viewing from below. Throughout the complex, passages from the Qur'an are used as decorative elements. [...] As one enters through Taj Mahal Gate, the calligraphy reads «O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you». Abstract forms are used especially in the plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab, and to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb. [...] Vegetative motifs are found at the lower walls of the tomb. [...] The dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with pietra dura inlays of highly stylised, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits. The inlay stones are yellow marble, jasper and jade, levelled and polished to the surface of the walls». No photos allowed inside the tomb..."







Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! So here it is! Everything one could see in pictures, movies, whatever... is entirely exceeded by the emotion you experience when you cross that entrance gate. Dazzling! Enjoy, but it must be lived on the spot... ;))

PS: Sorry! I’ve been so busy that I had no chance to visit your blogs last weekend; I’ll try to catch up in the next!!

Voegtli said...

The place is really beautiful. I have seen it it movies, in books and on posters. But as say, it must be seen life to really get absorbed by this wonderful place.

alicesg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alicesg said...

Wow the Taj Mahal is so amazing and so beautiful. It looked so great in the photo where its building were reflected in the water. Lucky you. You must have been to all the wonders in the world.

OMG, the queen had 14 children, she beats my late maternal grandmother. My late maternal gandmother had 12.

Love the photo of the colourful saris too. Thanks for sharing, I had fun looking at the photos

Shionge said...

What a great vibrancy of colour there Gil, most of all the architecture as usual :D

Venksh said...

Gil wat a pleasant morning to start with ur post wah awesome picture's specially the couple pic is really nice, even my parents took picture in front of Taj, really every couple look amazing in front of it, Should preserve this kinda picture's n look at it after several years the memories will be still fresh as young as u were at that time...

Gil u did't take picture sitting on that bench in front of the TAJ. It would hav been more amazing. if can post picture of that also..


Lakshmi said...

its indeed a wonder ..thanks Gil for this marvelous post

Anonymous said...

Awesome photos and what a very interesting story behind Taj Mahal. You know what in Filipino (our national language here in the Philippines) "Mahal" means Love.

lyliane six said...

Tu nous vraiment gardé le meilleur pour la fin, c'est superbe et j'ai hâte de le voir en vrai.
L'amour fait faire de grandes et belles choses vraiment.
Les couleurs de l'Inde sont magnifiques et vous aussi sur la photo.

Olivier said...

en effet "no comments",on reste tout simplement sous le charme....

SusuPetal said...

That is some piece of art! Amazing!

Cergie said...

Quelle richesse encore dans les matériaux et le travail du stuck de la brique du marbre jaune. Et un contraste fort entre... le fort et le mausolée ; la mosquée étant un "mix" des deux du point de vue des couleurs.
Vous avez eu de la chance avec le temps qui vous a donné cette magnifique lumière voilée, et a transformé votre séjour en une merveilleuse lune de miel.

Mariposa said...

it's so beautiful. i'm gonna visit the Taj one day!!

Thérèse said...

Certaines oeuvres d'art, de par leur taille, se valent d'être vues en personne. Ces photos ne peuvent qu'inspirer de se rendre sur place.Quelle leçon d'architecture!

Anonymous said...

As usual - good pictures. Best is the - People of Rajasthan, though it has nothing to do with Taj Mahal [:)]

I've visited the place thrice - but all at a very young age. So, don't really have splendid pictures of the Taj in my collection. They're in my Dad's or friend's albums you see.

Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

This is just a stunning place! A true testament to Love! I hope to go to the Taj Mahal some day. But above all, the colouful saris that the locals are wearing are simply beautiful! The sparkling colours give an amazing contrast to the environment!

Baron's Life said...

Wonderful pictures and posts...but now I am really begining to question these pictures...It is just not possible for anyone with your camera to capture these kind of photographs...consistently each and every time...just not feasible...unless you had 10 hours devoted to each picture. As to the picture of you and your wife sometimes in front of things , like in this last post...Hello photo shop...we're here... please prove me wrong, as I'd like to continue following your blog but right now I have some doubts..either you are genuine or a total fake...please let all of us know... I will have a lot of respect for you if you did come clean...

PeterParis said...

Yes, although the whole Indian voyage has been fantastic to follow, it's obvious that this must be considered as THE masterpiece. Also, although the different buildings have different purposes and that stones used may be different, the decorative elements are obviously more or less repeated, which adds to the harmony of the place. It's defintely a wonder! Thanks for all these fantastic pictures! We should perhaps also thank Mumtaz Mahal for being such a perfect wife? :-)

indicaspecies said...

Colours of Rajasthan? If you shot this near the Taj Mahal, then it should be Colours of Uttar Pradesh..

Being at the Taj Mahal may have been the culmination of your golden triangle trip to India, is it so? With your beautiful photographs of the Taj Mahal complex, this is a great post Gil. Thank you.:)

Indrani said...

Colors of India! would be best. :)


Ron said...

WONDERFUL!!!!! I can't explain it any other way.

Dsole said...

Gil, amazing!! this building is so espectacular!! I can't imagine myself in front of this!
Well, I also love the coloured photo of the women, that's great!
Hey have a wonderful weekend! :)

bindu said...

Fantastic photographs! I've been to see the Taj when I was just about 16 years old. Would like to go again.

Light and Voices said...

Oh my gosh. To see the Taj Mahal in still my heart! Adore all the domes and fantastic colors people are wearing. Nice job!

Lara said...

a masterpiece indeed! and your photos do it justice!

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Wah we Indians say! Wonderful pictures! I'm yet to set foot in Agra..... my parents have been there a long time ago and they thoroughly enjoyed their visit!
I'm sure you did too!

Thanks for some remarkable pictures! Do have a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

indeed a masterpiece!!! you are very lucky to be in places like this. thank you for this virtual tour

Mandy said...

GMG, that is so strange! I thought I had commented on this post! I do remember being lost for words on account of how beautiful it is and how good your photography is... maybe I couldn't complete my comment!

HalfCrazy said...

Wow, it's truly majestic and thanks for the history - I didn't know that!

There are so many people! I'm sure a lot of tourists visit India for a primary reason; to visit Taj Mahal! Why is it a bit misty, is that because of pollution or the cold lol.

The "Reflection" photo is so amazing. So amazing I decided to save it in my PC lol.

Anonymous said...

Truly amazing and gorgeous but not as gorgeous as that photo of you and your lovely wife. Have a super great weekend!

alok said...

Taj Mahal! Indeed a masterpiece and thank you so much for sharing those lovely pictures with us.

You have a wonderful weekend :)

Maria Verivaki said...

i've just read the book ' slumdog millionaire' with its interesting episode of how the tiffin boy starts making money by being a tourist guide
(I havent seen the film yet, so i dont know if it contains the taj mahal in it)
great photos

raccoonlover1963/Lisa Myers said...

Hi Gil
Thanks for the visit.
Your photos are astounding! I never knew there was so much to the Taj Mahal. I have seen some pictures of it, but never to that detail. I also never knew the history behind the building.
Take care

Nikon said...

Beautiful series as always, Gil!
I love the shot from the end of the reflecting pool.
Thanks for your visits!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thanks for coming over to my blog to alert me that you had the Taj Mahal up on your blog. I understand how busy things get sometimes.

What a magnificent masterpiece it is, Gil! I've been waiting to see it through your eyes. I can only imagine how astonishingly beautiful it appeared in person.

You've made me setermined to go to India!

Have a wonderful weekend! -- Pat

Where you allowed inside?

P.N. Subramanian said...

I loved looking at the "Couple" and was trying to visualize their inner feelings. Every snap is a masterpiece. Thanks

Pietro Brosio said...

Gil, I think there are no words describe these wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing these fabulous places, it's really a marvellous post. I always like to see the nice photos of you and your wife, too.
Have a great weekend!

Joy said...

That is beautiful. The backdrop is perfect for you, Gil, and your wife - it's all about love. You're so lucky to have visited there. I'm next! :-)

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come back tomorrow!

A Pinay In England
Your Love Coach
I, Woman

Mark @ TravelWonders said...

A majestic place indeed. Maybe the world's most identifiable building?

kuanyin333 said...

I've visited here--an amazing place! It was great to re-visit it through your beautiful photos!

I've notified the City Bloggers in the forum I won't be posting for several months---as I'm preparing for a long journey and will return to post again sometime in late June when I return. That's why you haven't seen any updates on my blog.

Unknown said...

Gil ;P This is a MASTERPIECE alright! The more reason for me to want to visit India. The Taj is magnificent and trully a work of art. Poor woman, 14th child..naturally deserved such recognition. Have a great weekend Gil.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Just one word to describe it for me--MAGNIFICANT!!!!!

I would love to see this in person one day, thanks again for sharing your adventure.

Gattina said...

I can only say what a beautiful architecture !
The Taj Mahal of course everybody knows at least since Diana posed alone in front of it, lol !
Love the coloful Sahris !

Jurgen Huibers said...

Great photos of a beautiful and impressive building!! I hope i'll be lucky enough to see it some day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderful journey, now I can say, I have been and seen Taj Mahal - almost :)
Our journey to China starts after three weeks, I hae been thinking, can I take my laptop with me and if not, how many cards I should take for my camera!! They are saying, that one can take only one camera.
I have to fond out other orders.

Have a nice weekend, what will be your next journey?

Azer Mantessa said...

For the whole trip, you've saved the best for last :-)

yes, this is 'the masterpiece' which is now on my screensaver


Chuckeroon said...

Two things, Trotter (apart from the undeniablemagnificence and remarkable achievement of the builders)........I especially like the colourful ladies in their sahris and TOP MARKS to the second photo with that row of "domelets" that look like those dish covers that head waiters lift off with a flourish in top restaurants! Some fine curries underneath no doubt. (Mrs Trotter was clearly enjoying the visit.)

Ash said...

Not for no reason is this one of the seven wonders!

Stunning is an understatement :-)

Dina said...

Your guiding is the first tour I've had of all the buildings, from all the angles. So now I know the Taj Mahal is even greater and MORE beautiful than I thought.
Now, to dream about the interior...

Thanks for the masterpiece.

Gmirage said...

No wonder it is one of the 7 wonders of the world! Though they say that it has become polluted (yellow instead of white) To me it still appears perfect!

"So much love has he that he made this for his wife!"

lv2scpbk said...

Loved the reflection photo of the building on the water. Also, I really like the colors of the ladies wraps. I noticed they're all barefoot. Do most people go barefoot there? I'd hate to be barefoot on a really hot day.

Cuckoo said...

You are right !! Every piece is a masterpiece.

Marie said...

Quelle merveille, blogtrotter! I can't travel as much as you do but your blog allows me to dream...

april said...

Wekk, this is one of the most wonderful buildings in the world. It makes one goose-pimple all over to look at its perfection. I cannot imagine how it is to see it in reality. It's even breathtaking in photos.

eye in the sky said...

I will never get tired of how the Taj Mahal looks. I was in constant awe the whole time I was within the immense grounds of the taj. Your photos are spectacular as always, but being there is an experience that's out of this world.

Nothing approximates an inspiration borne out of an undying love and devotion, such as that of the Taj.

Great post as usual.

Trotter said...

Hi Folks! Great to have you here, as always! My India 2008 is coming to an end, and the Taj was certainly a great way close the trip just before saying «See you India»! That’s why I changed the trip itinerary – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – to a different blogging itinerary – Delhi, Jaipur and Agra!! ;)). Amazing is that, though it took me three months to post my more than 400 pictures (chosen from the more than 1,300 I took in India), I managed to keep my delay in posting just to 12 months... ;) Less travelling, that’s what it means... ;))
Have a great week!

You’re right: words and images are always too short of the emotion you get when you cross that entrance... Astounding!

Alice SG,
Twelve children in the 20th century? What an achievement!!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to all wonders: of the New Seven, I miss two, and from the total twenty-one finalists, I miss five... It’s not such a small world! ;))

I know you would be speechless at the Taj Mahal. You have a too kind heart not to be over the moon with the emotion... ;)

We didn’t take «the» picture in front of the Taj; too many tourists and to many «professional» photographers with the «Photomaton» cameras... ;)) But we had a photo taken by our guide a bit on the left side of the Taj... I think that the impression you get when you visit the Taj will last forever in your memory; as fresh as if it was yesterday...

My pleasure. I’m glad you loved it!

Asian Traveller,
Amazing that Mahal turned love in Filipino...

Il ne faut pas aller trop vite quand tu arrives au Taj… ;). Vraiment l’idée était de le garder pour la fin, parce qu’en effet on a vu le Taj le troisième jour après notre arrivée en Inde… ;). Les couleurs sont adorables!!

C’est vrai: charme imbattable…

That’s whatever you would wish it to be! ;) A marvelous vision, in any case… ;)

Le marbre est plutôt blanc, même s’il semble un peu ambré… Peut-être la lumière du soleil matin et, aussi, un peu l’effet de la pollution... La mosquée, par contre, a la couleur chaude qu’on retrouve partout au Rajasthan…
On a eu de la chance avec le temps, mais il faut choisi la saison… ;))

Estoy cierto que lo harás… ;)

Le Taj, en particulier, est beaucoup plus impressionnant sur place, même si les photos ou les vidéos sont superbes; je crois toutefois qu’il manque toujours un petit rien qu’on ne trouve que sur place…

The connection is that the Rajasthanis were visiting the Taj… At least that’s what we could find from the bus from where they come from… ;) But you may say «People (and Colours) of India. Perfect!!
Three times? I would be satisfied with a second one... ;)

I’m sure you’re going to make it, sooner or later!
The colours were quite impressive and I didn’t hesitate to take the pictures when I saw the ladies coming on my way... ;))

You’re a guy with a great sense of humour: imagining someone looking for more than 400 pictures to post, just for the fun of cheating... ;) Lucky you that you found someone with an even greater sense of humour... and without Photoshop on his computer... ;)). Enjoy my pictures and have a great week!!

It’s true that the decoration motifs are somehow repeated; we have even seen some of the «pietra dura» in some of the forts I posted previously. But the Floral «Parchin kari» work at the Taj and the monument as a whole are absolutely unique! I’m sure we should thank Mumtaz Mahal for having inspired such a wonder!!

The ladies were from Jaipur, at least to give credit to the bus from where they came and to believe our guide... ;). I was also there and, though my yellow pull was cashmere, the colour was from Portugal... ;)).
Actually the Taj is the culmination of my posts on the Golden triangle; in fact, it was almost the beginning of the trip, since we saw it the third day after our arrival to India... ;)). Just that I had to keep it to the end for the sake of keeping the interest of blog visitors high... lol! Thanks for your kind words!

OK! Colours of India! I changed the subtitle!!

Speechless, that’s how I also felt... ;)

You’ll see it one day, I’m sure! It makes such an impression that you shouldn’t miss... And the story behind is unique; not even Pedro and Inês de Castro... ;)

Lucky you to have seen it at the age of 16; it took me much more time to get there... ;))

True: words stay a little short to describe the feeling of «being there»!!

Thanks! And I’m glad you managed to come back here in the middle of your busy days!

The whole trip was a marvellous one, but the experience of strolling around the Taj and looking at it is unforgettable!

I don’t usually consider myself a lucky person, but maybe you’re right: one should consider himself lucky just for the chance to travel and see new things around the world... ;)

Sometimes Blogger has its idiosyncrasies... No wonder comments vanish when we thought they were there... ;). But it’s true that words can barely express what you feel facing the Taj!

The love story is a wonderful one! The mist may come both from the weather and from pollution; let’s assume it was the morning mist not yet entirely gone! ;))
OK, save the «Reflection», my favourite! But when you show it to your friends, or if you publish it, don’t forget to mention that it’s mine!

That’s too kind of you! We were just comparing my sister-in-law’s recent pictures of Chichen-Itza with our 1983 (twenty/thirty pounds less) pictures... No way to be gorgeous nowadays... ;)))

My pleasure!!

Yes, there is a short hilarious episode at the Taj Mahal on the movie «Slumdog Millionaire» with the boy playing a tourist guide, though they don’t show the monument so nicely as on my pictures... ;))

The Taj is a must! You won’t forget as long there is memory... ;)

That’s also one of my favourites!!

I’m sure you won’t forget your future experience in India! The whole experience... ;))
We are allowed inside, where, in the central chamber, the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal and that of Shah Jahan are; that’s the only thing that isn’t symmetrical at the Taj. No photos allowed, actually a bit darker inside and I’m afraid I saw a pigeon/bird somewhere around...

That was quite an impressive view!! Still breathing... ;)

I agree that there are no words to describe the Taj; the photos are ok, but you don’t get the feeling unless you get there... Sorry. ;-(

Look forward to seeing you there. I’m sure you’re going to be thrilled!!

Yeah, it might be hard to find a better known place than this one... unless, as France is the country most visited by tourist in the world, the Eiffel Tower takes the lead. Don’t know!!

Long journey for several months? That’s what I call a traveller, not these miserable days off that mortals are entitled to once in a while... ;))
Hope it’s a good journey and look forward to seeing you back in June!
All the best!

Times were different... ;).
It isn’t that far to you; I’m sure you’re going to get there sooner or later...

For you the journey would be a little longer, but nothing that AA and BA wouldn’t solve easily... ;))

This time we didn’t manage to have it closed so that we could take the pictures alone. Maybe next time... ;)

Dreams are only interesting if they’re to come true... So, you had better to start preparing your trip... ;)

You’ll make it there one day! Now, China in May: beware of sand storms in the North (Beijing included)! As for the pictures, I use to carry two cards of 2GB each. With photos of 4000px by 3000px, it makes roughly 960 photos each… Enough for my short trips: hardly more than ten days… ;)). There are also 4GB cards, depending on the cameras…

I made a diversion to put Agra at the end… ;) Enjoy the picture!!

Amazing comparison of the «domelets» with the «plate covers»… Just had some beef Madras, lime pickle, sweet mango chutney and garlic and coriander Naan bread; with Patak’s, an easy task!! ;))

Quite deservedly so!!

The space is huge, the monument magnificent, but as for the inside, no photos allowed. You may have a look at some pictures at the Wikipedia.

The New 7Wonders were chosen by Internet or phone votes around the world; it would be hard to let this one off... ;)

The reflection is also my favourite; and the saris are stunning. Everybody was supposed to be barefoot on that part of the monument. The shoes were supposed to have been taken off and left before taking the stairs to get to the plinth. The American couple on the right of the picture only realized that when somebody told them... ;)

Truly master!

Everything may start as a dream... ;)

It’s a dazzling experience; words are short!

I fully agree with you; you found the right words to describe the feeling of being there! Thanks for expressing it here!!

hitch writer said...

I think i left a comment here but it seems to have disappeared...

you know most of the places you have shot here, i have seen... however i dont think they seemed as beautiful as they do... now that i see them through your lens !!

superb !!

Trotter said...

Hitch writer,
Thanks! That's very kind of you. It's always a surprise to see something familiar with different lens... ;)

Emery Roth said...

It's a real treat to get such a detailed exploration of the entire Taj complex, and your close-up shots give a sense of what it must be like to be there. Normally the hazy atmosphere would not be good for photography, but it adds a mysterious quality to the place and provides something one doesn't get in the "postcard" shots. Thanks.

Trotter said...

It's true that haze is not always favourable to pictures, but this time it was just the bit necessary to make it mystic, without jeopardizing everything... ;)

Oman said...

wow. so that is the world famous taj mahal. thanks for showing the place really up-close. i felt like i was with you during this trip. splendid job.

Trotter said...

Thanks! My pleasure! It was a great treat to be there and of course to share it with you all

adelynne said...

Hey Gil! The Taj Mahal is simply awesome, isn't it not? I remember the feeling of being in La Alhambra and Angkor Wat (both also wonders of the world, whether they're part of the SEVEN wonders), and the feeling was AWE. WOW. I couldn't believe I was RIGHT THERE at those places. I think you must have felt abit of the same at Taj Mahal! My parents have been there, and they said it was gorgeous. What great love Shah Jahan had for his wife. I just think it's sad his son deposed him... and I also think that my beau doesn't have to build a Taj Mahal for me to show his love. I am already happy with what he is giving me. :)

P.S. Who takes the pictures of you and your wife? (Just wondering!)


Trotter said...

The Taj was actually an extraordinary experience!!The photos were taken by our guide!
I've been to the Alhambra, not yet to Angkor... one day!
I'm glad to read you're not too demanding... ;))

A Lady's Life said...

West side is a breath taking shot.
Love it.
So much detail on the buildings.
Just beautiful as are the couple in it.

trotter said...

Thanks! The decoration of the Taj is sublime!

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

Blog incomparable !

Trotter said...