So what’s the story with the Taj Mahal?
Well it’s an undisputedly fantastic work of art, one of the world’s seven wonders and perhaps the selfie capital of India, however….
The widely accepted story of why the Taj Mahal was built, is based on a world famous love story about the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (who seemingly did no wrong) he had many wives but one was his absolute favourite, Mumtaz Mahal, the wife who died giving birth to their fourteenth child together, leaving him distraught.
The Taj Mahal was built as a tribute to Mumtaz Mahal, and took around 11 years to complete.
The gardens and buildings surrounding the Taj were completed a further five years after that, and there had been plans to build another palace across the river.
There are rumours that Shah Jahan had the hands of all the builders amputated to ensure there would never be another palace like it.
The main attraction lies inside the Taj, the replica tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife – the real tombs are believed to be buried beneath the palace.
We were not permitted to take pictures inside – where the replica tombs lay.
Once you leave the garden areas below, shoes have to be removed or covered with some shoe covers – available to buy for a small price.
Can you handle the truth?
Maybe not – since it seems as though there are other theories about the ‘real’ Taj Mahal story.
On my flight back to the UK I sat next to someone (who happened to be Indian), he told me that the official story is not the true story…and that the ‘real’ story is a lot more eyebrow raising, to say the least.
I’ve also heard theories that Shah Jahan didn’t treat his other wives well, and that the Taj Mahal was originally an ancient Hindu temple, holding clues and tell-tales signs around the structure that give it away, to this day.
While our guide told us the ‘official story’, one of the other travellers in the group was actually in tears, she was so moved by the sad story…..I must admit, it did pull at the heart strings a bit.
I doubt there’s ever a quiet day at the Taj (apart from Friday when its closed to the public).
I’ve been asked a few times, whether I went to the spot where Princess Diana took her famous photo – and the answer is no.
You could barely see the area due to the amount of people swarming it…and I was much more interested in the building itself.
There were also lots of Indian squirrels, I say “Indian’ because I’ve never seen squirrels like these before – they looked more like mini chipmunks.
Toward the end of the day, birds of prey were circling the giant dome on the Taj Mahal, growing in number as if they were expecting some prey below.
So did it live up to the hype?
Yes – definitely.
From a distance I felt as though I was looking at a picture, like the one below – typical shots….but what was most impressive was standing up close against it’s towering walls and arches, giving me a feel for the size and stature of the palace, and feeling like a dwarf.
There was the option of an additional sunrise Taj Mahal visit – which nobody volunteered for.
If you know anything about the fog and mist in India, you’ll understand why…..
Each morning and on some evenings we’d get a thick cloud of low lying fog/mist and the weather forecast wasn’t expecting this to change.
The likelihood was that we wouldn’t be able to see a thing at the Taj when we got there, so it didn’t seem worth the cold early rise, and journey there and back.
We’d had a perfect day already, as per the above, so the Taj Mahal was firmly ticked off my list.