Taj Mahal: romance and tragedy
Even though it’s a mausoleum, a funeral mosque, the Taj Mahal must surely be one of the most romantic buildings in the world. But then romance and tragedy often seem to go hand in hand, don’t they?
In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, dies giving birth to their 14th child. The emperor, heartbroken, begins work on this exceptionally lovely monument to perpetuate her memory. Here is his description of the building:
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator’s glory.
Years later, Shah Jahan is declared incompetent by his brutally ambitious son Aurangzeb and placed under house arrest in Agra Fort. For the last seven years of his life, he remains a prisoner there.
Not all bad, perhaps. The tower he was confined to had a balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal, so he could at least gaze at the grave of his true love.
If you are more pragmatically disposed, it might interest you to know it took 22 years, 1 000 elephants and 20 000 workers to complete this architectural masterpiece in Agra. UNESCO inscribed Taj Mahal on its World Heritage list in 1983.
I took the above photos at 15-minute intervals as the sun rose on a November day in 1996. Nothing digital here, of course, simply old prints that are scanned. Despite the obvious flaws, I quite like them.
Have you visited the Taj? What’s the most romantic building you have seen?
Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.
The ultimate world traveler, Sophie. How do you do it !?
How interesting to see the light change. Makes me wish we had gone to Taj Mahal early in the morning. I guess there are no 7 hour queues at that time or ladies hitting tourists with their handbags when they are pushed first in line?
No queues. In fact, hardly anyone at all at that hour.
Those pictures are gorgeous. I couldn’t imagine having 14 children!
I know! Imagine putting the love of your life through that…
Such a beautiful place…I wish I ever had the chance to get there…
Hope you get a chance to visit the Taj Mahal, Anna.
Beautiful light in these, Sophie!
Thanks, Andrew 🙂
I love how you took these photos at time intervals! They’re beautiful and it’s so interesting to see the changes. I had never read the emperor’s description of the building before – quite lovely.
Very romantic, isn’t it…
Great idea to show the changes in light by taking the photos at 15 minute intervals. Must try that myself one day although it will no doubt be of a Turkish landmark. 😉 We have 2 friends in India at the moment and they’re booked on a trip to the Taj Mahal tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. How romantic.
Plenty of stunning landmarks to choose from in Turkey 🙂
Absolutely gorgeous. And I admire you for having the will to get up so early in the morning to gt those amazing shots 🙂
It’s difficult for a few moments that getting up at the crack of dawn. But always worth it.
The Taj Mahal is still one of my favorite places we’ve visited! Sadly we missed sunrise, though – which is a bummer, because it looks gorgeous and less crowded. 🙂
Yes, wouldn’t be the same with hordes milling about the place.
Wow! Spectacular photos. I can’t wait to see the Taj Mahal someday for myself.
Such a stunning monument it is.
The photos are really awesome!
I like how different in looks even though the shots are just 15 minutes apart and an interesting history.
A truly tragic story behind this iconic structure. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal however, my abiding memory is of Princess Dianatting on the little bench at the entrance.
Yes, I remember that well, too. Yet another tragedy that.
Beautiful Taj Mahal, what a striking contrast with the rest of Agra city, even just outside the Taj..
Isn’t it, though? The rest of Agra was a sad sight.
Simply gorgeous! We’re definitely revisiting India just for Taj Mahal. And hopefully we could include it on this RTw trip!
Very much worth a stop, this sad and beautiful building.
This is always a magnificent site to look at. Wish I could go visit there one day!
Hope you can, too 🙂
I “quite” like them, too. Beautiful. That love story kills me!
Such a dramatic story, isn’t it…
Wow! How I wish I can see the total structure of Taj Mahal.. My friends tell me that It’s really different when you saw it….
It’s quite the magical place to see, even more than photos can convey.
Very nice pics! Taj Mahal is on my bucket list.
Your photos are beautiful. The Taj Mahal and India have been on my list for far too long. Will have make time for it.
Wow! Simply Amazing. And i will definitely visit India just for Taj Mahal. Thanks for the post.
Ah, Sophie- these are so pretty. love the light off the white.
These are so beautiful and turned out so great for being scanned prints. Great idea on taking 15 minute interval pictures as the light changes. Love the last picture!
Laura, InsideJourneys, Ynna, Jade and Mary – thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated 🙂
I love the way the colour of the building changes as the sun comes up. And it’s nice to see that the old-style photos can still make it on to the blog!! 🙂
I love this, and what a beautiful place. How great that there were no crowds then. I can’t say I’ve been to any particularly romantic buildings except maybe some smaller chateaux in Europe. Nothing compares to the Taj Mahal!
I like your blog it’s look nice and attractive. I visited many places in India and always remember that trips which i had traveled and photos are memories of it in my album and heart touching photos are always with me. Awesome photos of your blog and Taj Mahal is looking very beautiful.
Taj Mahal is one of the spotted place because it’s architectural design is beautiful and amazing… Thanks for sharing with us this post…
I visited the Taj Mahal but now the walls of Taj Mahal were ruined to some minor extent because of the pollution over there!
I’ve never been to the Taj Mahal but it is definitely on my bucket list!
I belong from Agra and everytime i see Taj I feel the same as it was years ago. Taj is the same, but it has thousands of moods captured in some amazing photographs. You captured it quite well sophie.
Thanks you, Anirudh. It’s almost absurdly beautiful, Taj Mahal.