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In Love With The Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal — it is humanity’s most beautiful building, a true wonder of the world and a reason alone to visit India. A must see? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. I fell in love with the Taj Mahal. See why.

In This Photo Essay You Will Discover:

  • The Intricacy of the Taj Mahal
  • Architectural Facts
  • A Mere Shade of its Actual Beauty

Seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time reduces one to cliches. I could try to be original, to describe this wonder in a way none have before — but at the time,  all I could come up with was: “I am walking into heaven.” The marble, inlaid with mother of pearl, shimmered in the morning light. It was draped in mist and skylined against ultraviolet blue. White storks circled the central dome like… well, like freakin’ angels.

We stood open-mouthed and dumb in its presence. We stayed on the grounds for more than four hours, staring up at the marble, admiring the detail and merely basking in its light; only our lunchtime hunger eventually forced us to leave. It is the world’s most beautiful building — there are no challengers to its throne.

Sure, it bankrupted the country when it was built. Sure, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his own son following its completion for such a gross misuse of federal funds (as we all know, he built it as tomb for his beloved wife). But maybe the Shah was just a forward-thinker — after all, the tourism dollars it has brought to the region in the past 400 years have surely paid for it tenfold by now, right?

If you skip over the Taj Mahal during your time in India, you do not understand what it is to be in India. (After all, no Indian would ever pass by a destination due to crowds.) India is a land of staggering beauty in the face of chaos — and nothing embodies this better than the Taj Mahal.

One day in Agra and you’ll see what I mean.

I won’t reduce it to words. I only hope glimpsing at these 2-D photocopies below will inspire you to stand, as we did, in pure awe on the grounds of India’s Taj Mahal:


Entering the gates of the Taj Mahal.


First view of the Taj Mahal (from its grounds). We went to Mehtab Beach the night before to catch a glimpse — don’t waste your time doing that. The Taj is meant to be seen from within, the view from Mehtab is worthless.


Arrive in the early morning, before the maddening crowds (and the get the best light).


I would advise against hiring a tour guide. The Taj Mahal is best appreciated in quiet contemplation, not in the presence of some jabbering tout working for tips.


Early in the morning, before the fountains are turned on, the Taj Mahal is reflected perfectly in the pools.


The four minaretes are slightly off perpendicular, slanting away from the Taj Mahal. In case of an earthquake, they would fall outward, sparing the main building (and the tomb).




More than 20,000 people worked to build the Taj. Shah Jahan, the man behind it all, said, “It made the sun and moon shed tears from their eyes.” I agree.


The detail is impressive — and the carvings within are incredible (no photos are allowed inside the tomb).


The sheer quantity of marble is staggering. Note the inlays of mother of pearl.


One of four minarets at the Taj Mahal.


The calligraphy gradually increases in size as it climbs upwards — this perspective gives the viewer, from ground level, the impression it is all exactly uniform from bottom to top.


The Taj Mahal is designed to be skylined from every perspective — giving the impression that it is “floating.”


The Taj Mahal is flanked by twin mosques; part of the symmetry that is so intrinsic to its design.


No words.


David Webb, lost in the Taj Mahal.


Blanketed in morning mist, the Taj Mahal looks especially mystical.


Don’t forget to ask someone to snap a portrait of you before you leave. India’s best souvenir!

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

4 comments… add one
  • laura Feb 12, 2013 Link

    love the pics looks like a fun place to visit

  • Rachel Feb 11, 2013 Link

    Seeing the Taj Mahal in person would give you that satisfaction you could ever imagine. Like you’d feel content of what you’d accomplish in your life for you’d already reached heaven. I might be repeating what you said, but yeah that’s true. I can’t believe myself of what I witnessed when I was standing right in front of that most beautiful thing on earth. Now it kinda makes me want to visit that wonder again and bring my boyfriend since he haven’t seen it, and since it’s the love month. He might think of giving me something really special after seeing Taj Mahal. 😛

  • David Webb Feb 6, 2013 Link

    For a non-Indian resident, it currently costs 750 rupees. Money well spent. As for lines? Go early! We went at 8:00 a.m. and it wasn’t all that busy.

  • Agra Feb 4, 2013 Link

    How much does it cost to get in? Big lines?

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