Seeing the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal experience isn’t just about seeing one of the wonders of the world: it begins with the preparations you must make even before your visit begins.
You wake at 515 AM, share a golf cart to the entrance with six other sleepy guests from your hotel, and arrive with e-ticket on your smartphone by a little after 6. After a short wait in the queue, you enter and you see the familiar shape of the dome in the distance. You take a deep breath, choke back a few tears, then proceed.
You grapple for that one shot that will be mercifully free from tourists. If you’re patient enough, you get it. You then pose for several more of the same kinds of shots with your family, then begin the long stroll along the reflecting pool and the four minarets.
Before you climb the steps to reach the mosque, you must put on shoe covers to protect the marble floor. You are awed by the intricate designs and carvings of the entranceway. This is only equaled by what you see inside: reproductions of the tombs of Shah Jahan who commissioned the Taj Mahal in 1632 to honor his third wife who died after bearing him 14 children. No photos are allowed but whoops and hollers are occasionally heard, if only to hear your voice echo throughout the 230-foot-high structure.
Why arrive so early? It’s to see the play of light from the morning sun on the Taj Mahal, which seems to change color every few minutes or so.
The thing you often hear people say about monuments like this is that they look better in pictures than they do up close. The Taj Mahal puts the lie to this. There’s no better way to appreciate the delicate Arabic calligraphy, the intricacy of the marble carvings, and the colors of the inlaid stone than to see it all up close.
The Taj Mahal really is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. We feel privileged to have seen it today, October 25, 2023