THE CLOCK OF TIME IS TICKING. IT NEVER STOPS. WHEN I VISITED THE TAJ MAHAL ON SATURDAY .. MAY 30th, 2015 .. I CONSCIOUSLY THOUGHT TO MYSELF .. "THIS MAY BE MY LAST EVER VISIT TO MUMTAZ." ACCORDINGLY .. I SNAPPED RIGHT AT TWO (200) HUNDRED PHOTOS.
THE HEAT 47 C or 118 F BORDERED ON BEING ABSOLUTELY UNBEARABLE. I TOOK ONE LITER OF ELECTRAL TREATED WATER WITH ME. I SIP .. SIP .. SIP .. SIPPED IT SLOWLY AND METHODICALLY DURING MY THREE AND ONE HALF (3-1/2) HOUR VISIT. IN HEAT SUCH AS THIS YOU DO NOT CHUG-A-LUG LIQUIDS.
I ate a good breakfast before setting out for The Taj.
THE WEEK BEFORE MY VISIT A LADY DROPPED DEAD FROM THE HEAT AT THE TAJ.
IN A POST I PUT UP ON MY DOT NET WEBSITE .. I SHOWED ONLY EACH FOURTH PHOTO. AFTER SOME THOUGHT OF DOING THE SAME IN THIS POST .. BECAUSE THIS MAY WELL BE MY FINAL VISIT TO THE TAJ .. I DECIDED TO SHOW MOST .. IF NOT ALL .. OF MY PHOTOS IN THIS ONE POST!
A COP-OUT? SORRY! I AM NOT INTO MAKING MYSELF CRAZY TRYING TO DECIDE ON EACH AND ON EVERY SINGLE PHOTO WHETHER OR NOT TO INCLUDE IT. MY TECHNIQUE OF EVERY FOURTH PHOTO ON DOT NET WORKED VERY WELL BUT I DECIDED I AM NOT GOING TO DO FOUR TAJ POSTS IN ALL.
I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD NUMBER EACH PHOTO OF THE TAJ WITH ITS OWN INDIVIDUAL NUMBER. THEN ASK YOU TO ADVISE ME OF YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO(S). THEN I WAS GOING TO DO A POST WITH ONLY YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOS.
CAN YOU ALL SEE THIS POST IS CRAZY-MAKING RIGHT BEFORE ME.
PLEASE DON'T FORGET THAT OUR GOOD FRIEND WIKIPEDIA SITS WAITING TO ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS THAT I WILL PROBABLY NOT ANSWER FOR YOU.
SUCH AS WHY WAS THE MEHMAN KHANA CONSTRUCTED IDENTICAL TO THE MOSQUE TO THE WEST OF THE TAJ?
SO STAND FOREWARNED .. THIS IS A LONG POST .. WITH MUCH LOVE AND RESPECT FOR MUMTAZ .. CAP ..
DEEP BREATH .. HOLD IT .. LET IT OUT SLOWLY ..
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Beginning with my first visit in December of 1990 .. I have been blessed to visit the Taj Mahal for the past 24 years.
The building that we call the Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum where the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan is buried. Her name was Mumtaz Mahal and she was the favorite of his three wives. Mumtaz died giving birth to their fourteenth (14th) child who survived his mother.
Emperor Shah Jahan reigned from 1628 to 1658. Work on the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and was considered to be complete in 1653.
Visiting The Taj Mahal has become a very intense and personally moving experience for me. I call the mausoleum alternately The Taj and Mumtaz because that is where she rests. Being true royalty she would probably 'swat' me or worse .. have me be-headed .. for being so familiar with her!
In this Post I am going to take you on a complete tour of The Taj. Below is a map you will see a number of times as I use it periodically to orient you to the photos in this Post.
Of the three entry gates .. West (above left bottom) .. South (above center bottom) .. East (above right bottom) .. we are heading for the WEST GATE.
I will begin with photos taken as I rode a bicycle rickshaw from my Hotel Pawan in Agra Cantt to The Taj Mahal.
The ride was quite scenic and enjoyable.
We are getting close to the Taj. The 1 in the sign below stands for 1 Kilometer or about 0.6 miles.
Talk about 'busy-ness'! Below we are very close to the Taj.
I entered by the Taj West Gate. This entrance is about 1 Kilometer from the ticketing area. You can walk .. which I have always done .. or you may choose to ride.
The Camel drawn wagons are a fun option for many people.
What a happy camel rider!
We are almost to the ticket windows.
Below is our map of the general overall grounds of The Taj Mahal.
We have come in via the West Gate which is at the lower left above. The following photos will show you the ticket booking counter area. Note at the bottom center above is the South Gate and on the lower right the East Gate.
Here we go into The Taj Mahal grounds.
Do you see the sign to the ticket counter(s) below.
Now we have arrived at the ticket booking counters.
The 750 Indian Rupee entry fee for foreign visitors translates to about US $11.81 .. a real bargain in my humble opinion. This is called a HIGH VALUE ticket.
As you walk through the extensive grounds .. from time to time .. you get real value for your US $11.81 HIGH VALUE ticket.
No! You never have to 'show your ticket'! Trust me .. they 'know' us just by looking at us!
A view of the ticketing area to the right of the previous photo above.
Below is the ticket to enter.
Now we have come to the actual entry into the grounds of the Taj.
These photos were taken on Saturday .. May the 30th, 2015. Because of a severe heat wave in India where temperatures reached 47 C or 118 F the crowds were considerably smaller than usual.
Our entry ticket has been taken and we have passed into the FORECOURT (the Jilaukhama) you see at the bottom of the below map.
As we come into the FORECOURT .. the green and gray open area directly below the MAIN GATE .. we get our very first glimpse of The Taj off to our left.
Below are photos taken in the FORECOURT.
I mentioned we entered through the West (lower left) Gate. There is the South (bottom center) entry Gate and the East (lower right) entry Gate as you can see in our map below.
Below are several photos of the South Gate.
A closer view of the South Gate.
The building below is the MAIN GATE into the Taj proper. The previous photos were taken looking off to the right and behind us.
The MAIN GATE ..
We have walked into the MAIN GATE and below we see Her Majesty .. The Taj Mahal.
We are now through the MAIN GATE ..
Before us sits the Taj Mahal in all of her glory.
Below we have turned around 180 Degrees and are looking back at the MAIN GATE we just walked through.
The below photos are taken in the general vicinity of the men above looking out from within the building.
The below views of The Taj are classic. During my first visit in December 1990 a professional guide showed me how to frame The Taj as you see her below.
A closer view of the topmost part of the map showing only the area around The Taj Mahal which is the Main Mausoleum where Mumtaz rests.
OK we are back to the building immediately West of the MAIN GATE.
Inside of this building is a long corridor that has numerous displays that show various stages in the history of India.
IF you visit The Taj .. and IF you miss the above displays .. then you have really missed something very special!
Looking back from where we entered the corridor at the far end.
Two additional photos of its exterior.
We are back .. basking a moment in the cool shade.
It seems that the vast majority of plants are clearly identified. A nice touch.
Three photos looking back at the MAIN GATE.
Mumtaz! You are so beautiful .. no matter the angle of your photos.
The chipmonks positively abound at The Taj. The one below hit the MOTHER LODE!
There are also a lot of monkeys on the grounds of The Taj.
To the left or West of The Taj is a Mosque. Do you see it on our maps below?
Do you see the Mosque?
The next nine photos below show you this Mosque to the West of The Taj and its grounds.
There is the Mosque to the left in the below photo.
Feast your eyes upon Mumtaz!
On the left side of the below photo .. with its top sticking up out of the trees .. is the Mosque West of The Taj I showed previously.
This visit was special in that the reflecting pools all had water in them. In my experience it is not unusual for them to be dry.
Two photos looking from The Taj back at the MAIN GATE.
I told Patti that I was NOT going to go up onto The Taj.
"Been there and done that Patti." .."You can NOT snap any photos of its interior so why bother?"
"You may never again in this lifetime be back here Captain! Further more Captain .. inside of the dark Taj the temperature is VERY COOL!" ..
"I didn't bring my goose down jacket. What if I take a chill and tip over and die?"
DOES IT SEEM TO YOU MY FOLLOWERS THAT I AM HAVING FUN HERE?
To go up onto The Taj .. you have two choices. You can go barefooted on her burning hot marble surface OR you can use 'booties' on top of your shoes. I opted to use the 'booties'.
We now are up on The Taj.
The backside of The Taj looks out upon the Yamuna River.
Turning around 180 Degrees from the above photo we see the other Minaret.
In the lower right background above is the MAIN GATE.
Previously I have shown you the Mosque on the West side of The Taj.
Now we get to the East side of The Taj and the Mehman Khana .. The Assembly Hall. Do you see it on the map above?
"Captain it looks identical to the Mosque on the West of The Taj!"
It looks identical because it is IDENTICAL. It is an exact replica of the Mosque fashioned to balance the symmetry of the site.
Yes I know .. I KNOW .. I could have put all of the photos of the MAIN GATE together in one series of photos. But I am posting these photos pretty much in the order that I snapped them.
So .. Taa-Daa .. another photo of the MAIN GATE snapped while standing upon The Taj. All of these photos serve to show you the majesty of the grounds.
Another closer look at the actual entrance to The Taj.
Looking back at the MAIN GATE.
Hi again Mumtaz!
Back again to our MAIN GATE.
Below may well be the last two photographs that I will ever snap of The Taj Mahal.
Below we have walked out of the South Gate of The Taj grounds. The reality of India awaits us!
We have pushed our way past the touts and the hawkers and the neer-do-wells trying to get from us whatever they can get.
We are now on the way home to the Hotel Pawan.
The traffic circles with motorized vehicles whizzing past are quite an adventure to you riding in a bicycle rickshaw.
We are back to the more scenic road home to the Hotel Pawan.
We have left Agra and are now in Agra Cantt.
Home to the Hotel Pawan.
How many tourists actually commune with the local people? My bicycle rickshaw man asked for 50 Rupees to carry me back to the Hotel Pawan from The Taj. I gave him 100 Rupees.
He was really pleased with a 100% grautity! I snapped him as he pedaled away.
How was this Post for a WHEW! Well it was a WHEW for me! I really hope that you who have viewed it enjoyed it.
Blessings Upon You All! .. Cap ..