Taj Mahal for a vast majority will signfy symbol of love but for critics it will remain a lusty edifice. Some critics point out that history has been deliberately altered by the British to cover up their shortcoming in terms of trying to auction of Taj to garner revenue by William Bentick in 1830 and their soldiers vandalising the monument for precious stones at times of the mutiny in 1857. Mystery still remains whether Taj was built on the earlier palace which was bought by Shah Jahan by paying suitable compensation to Maharaja Jai Singh.
Taj was designated as World Heritage site in 1983 and it will remain one of the wonders of the world considering its aura surrounding the edifice. Shah Jahan commissioned the construction in 1632, in memory of his beloved Mumtaz, who died while giving birth to their 14th child Guahara. After a decade the basic structure was completed and landscaping was undertaken over a period of 5 years. The legacy of Taj in terms of the scale of construction with materials sourced from all over the world and its granduer with multitude of artisans employed to complete structure is unparalleled in moghul history. Shah was ultimately prisoned by his own son Aurangazeb in the Agra fort and when he died was buried besides Mumtaz’s grave.
I remember distinctly that first time around we visited Taj Mahal during the black and white era which was also happened to be emergency time ( 1976 ) travelling up and down from Delhi with my parents on a LTC Trip. This time around we decided that we shall do it from Mathura as base town. We fixed up with a cab service one day in advance for covering Fathepur Sikri, Red Fort and Taj Mahal. The cab came and picked us up from Taj Cant and finished the entire tour seamlessly and dropped us back to station.
We lost precious 90 minutes for lunch stop wherein we were made to wait for food which in hindsight pushed us to the edge. Luckily we had booked the ticket online for enterance to Taj. One needs to be careful that the bar code needs to be printed too which we missed out and it lead to some arguement but eventually security guys obliged. The Q to enter the Taj was long drawn and we managed to enter the premises after waiting for nearly 45 minutes. The entry into Taj closes at 5 pm during winter and 6 pm during summer. On Fridays it is closed for weekly prayers.
Being Christmas holidays the crowd swelled beyond belief almost more than a lakh visitors thronged the place. When we witnessed massive queue to enter the main edifice we avoided standing in the queue and enjoyed the monument fromt the closest quaters and clicked photos from vantage points.
The hues of marble started changing colours with fading light, those who are interested to click good photographs should remember that between 4 to 6 pm is ideal during winter. The effect changes with changing intensity of light.
SOUND & LIGHT SHOW : These shows are held during full moon days 2 days prior and 2 days later. Check out the moon cycle on google if one wants to visit the show. More information on the ticket prices can be had from this link http://www.asiagracircle.in/visitor-information.html Many of you all might find it difficult to book tickets online for Taj. Even i had initial difficulty and than i wrote both to UP tourism department and asi, luckily i got reply from ASI and here is the link http://asi.payumoney.com/#/ for booking your ticket. Hope it helps you all to visit Taj by booking in advance. Please remember entry gates are closed at 5 pm exit till sunshine or light prevails.
One’s personal photo album can never be complete if one does not capture Taj in the background for all travel buffs. So guys what are you waiting for just go and click your picture with Taj Mahal as background. It is rumored that Taj as an edifice might crumble before the end of this century due to wear and tear. Wah Taj ! we are in awe !
Ack : Wiki for research material and pic.