I feel like one of the life lessons you learn just past kindergarten is that few things live up to their hype. The Taj Mahal was one of those things that absolutely lives up to and exceeds all expectations for it.
On Tuesday, we set our alarms so we would be out of the hotel by 4:30 and in line at the Taj by 4:45. It was an early early morning, but so completely worth it. We were going for sunrise, but alas, the sun never did rise. It was a cloudy day, but it didn’t matter.
Our group was the first one on the grounds that morning, so we got the magic pictures everyone hopes for – pictures with no one in the background. As we ran in to take as many pictures as possible with as few people in them as possible, you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the size and beauty of the Taj Mahal.
One of the turrets has scaffolding around it because they are doing a mud bath on the whole monument, section by section. It’s doing a great job because you can really see which sections have been finished – they’re perfectly white while the other sections are a bit yellow-ish.
And I was in luck – this summer, they’re supposed to move the scaffolding to be over the main dome, but they’re running a bit behind schedule. It should have been over the main dome when I was there, but it wasn’t! I was very excited.
When you get close to the building, the marble inlay work is absolutely exquisite. Everywhere you look, there is this gorgeous white marble, and then it’s got the most incredible detail. When you run your fingers over it, it’s perfectly smooth. I can’t even begin to fathom how people hundreds of years ago constructed this.
One either side of the Taj Mahal are two outbuildings – one is a mosque and one is a guest house – they look identical because the Taj was all about balance. Anywhere else, these would be remarkable in their own right. Next to the Taj, they’re just part of the landscape.
The whole time I was there, I felt the wonderful energy of a place with so much history – it’s interesting to me which places on earth have it and which don’t seem to. Machu Picchu is where I felt it most strongly, but Angkor Wat, Bagan, and many others have it. But the Taj Mahal rivals Machu Picchu for sheer awe, majesty, and energy.
Because we were there so early, I got to have my picture taken on the Diana bench! I was so excited to get this picture… and I may have texted it to a friend with the caption “Holy crap my bum has been where Kate Middleton’s was!” Because you know… the important things in life.
And so now I have been to five world wonders… I’m on the downhill slide for sure! I can’t believe that I think I might actually get all eight of them by the end of this trip!