The Taj Mahal; one most well known and recoginzed buildings in the world in a massive white mausoleum that stands on the banks of the Yamuna River in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Nearly everyone has seen a picture of the massive building but actually seeing it does not disappoint; it is a surreal and overwhelming. The light, reflections, symmetry, and sheer size make it impressive and one of a kind.
The story of the Taj is one mixed with history, legend, folklore, and tradition.
The story began when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was walking through the market bizarre and saw girl named Mumtaz Mahal and fell in love her immediately. After 5 years he married her as his third wife (many other wives followed). At 39 years old she died having her 14th child and legend has it on her death bed she asked her husband to build a tomb to honor her memory that no one could forget.
Shah Jahan became obsessed with this project and 20,000 workmen were employed daily at certain points to complete the structure that took 22 years to complete. With vast resources from the Mughal empire he focused on perfection in building the white marble, brick, and sandstone structure and surrounding gardens and buildings. It represents the the assimilation of many cultures (Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Indian). Shah Jahan was imprisoned after being overthrown by his own son and is said to have spent his last days seeing only the top of the Taj from his jail cell. I find it ironic that it is romanticized as a monument to love when Shah Jahan was said to have had hundreds of wives and the funds used to build the Taj were gained by conquering, slavery, and what many consider a cruel reign. Despite the flaw of man the Taj will not be forgotten in our time.
Much myth and legend surround the Taj including Shah Jahan's plans to build a black Taj Mahal across the banks of the river, that he had the hands of the architects cut off so they could never build anything like the Taj again but little evidence support these claims. The myths and legends keep the Taj very much alive as a source of stories, controversy, and varying opinions.
To capture images of one of the most famous and photographed buildings in the world was a bit daunting but I quickly realized the story for me was in the tourists from all over India that came to see the Taj. Just sitting and watching them experience the Taj was awesome. We were all tourists; some from near and some from far but all here to see this building of legend and history.
This family, like myself, was glimpsing the Taj for the first time.
Some come because of their faith, curiosity, or pride in their country.
This pose was the most popular one I saw people capturing; the old holding the spire picture. I wonder how many people have this as their facebook picture!
Thousands of people from all over India come to the Taj each day and I loved watching families and friends capture memories of visiting this national treasure.
I even got to join this group in their poses!
We spent two days photographing the Taj Mahal. A small, well used boat on the banks of the river was my spot for a view of the back Taj at sunset.
The Taj was designed to give the impression that it was connected to the heavens above and the shadows and light on the Taj make it seem almost as if it is floating. The second morning we awoke at 4:30am to be some of the first to pass through the gates to run and get a few shots and glimpse of the Taj before the thousands of tourists; foreign and local descended. A visit to the Taj was a great way to end my time in India.
photo by Tricia Lombardi.
Just sitting in a quiet archway watching people experience the Taj was great and served as a reminder that the world is too vast and beautiful to not be explored.