Sunday snapshots – Sunrise at Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal at dawn, 6:15 am
6:15 am

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.

Taj Mahal at dawn, 6:30 am
6:30 am

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.

Taj Mahal at dawn, 6:45 am
6:45 am

If you are more pragmatically disposed, it might interest you to know it took 22 years, 1000 elephants and 20000 workers to complete this architectural masterpiece in Agra. UNESCO inscribed Taj Mahal on its World Heritage list in 1983.

Taj Mahal at dawn, 7:00 am
7:00 am

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.

Taj Mahal in the morning, at 7:45 am
Finally, 7:45 am

Have you visited the Taj? What’s the most romantic building you have seen?

Center map

unesco logo

Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.


50 Responses to “Sunday snapshots – Sunrise at Taj Mahal”

  1. RyukyuMike 12 February 2012 0723 #

    The ultimate world traveler, Sophie. How do you do it !?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2315 #


  2. ItalianNotes 12 February 2012 1741 #

    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?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2317 #

      No queues. In fact, hardly anyone at all at that hour.

  3. Nichole 12 February 2012 2012 #

    Those pictures are gorgeous. I couldn’t imagine having 14 children!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2318 #

      I know! Imagine putting the love of your life through that…

  4. Anna 12 February 2012 2150 #

    Such a beautiful place…I wish I ever had the chance to get there…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2319 #

      Hope you get a chance to visit the Taj Mahal, Anna.

  5. Andrew Graeme Gould 12 February 2012 2344 #

    Beautiful light in these, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2319 #

      Thanks, Andrew 🙂

  6. Cathy Sweeney 13 February 2012 0455 #

    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.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2320 #

      Very romantic, isn’t it…

  7. Turkey's For Life 13 February 2012 0913 #

    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.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2321 #

      Plenty of stunning landmarks to choose from in Turkey 🙂

  8. Ana (Ana Travels) 13 February 2012 1504 #

    Absolutely gorgeous. And I admire you for having the will to get up so early in the morning to gt those amazing shots 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2322 #

      It’s difficult for a few moments that getting up at the crack of dawn. But always worth it.

  9. Christy @ Technosyncratic 14 February 2012 1417 #

    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. 🙂

  10. Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 2324 #

    Yes, wouldn’t be the same with hordes milling about the place.

  11. Michael Figueiredo 14 February 2012 2334 #

    Wow! Spectacular photos. I can’t wait to see the Taj Mahal someday for myself.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 February 2012 1326 #

      Such a stunning monument it is.

  12. Bhling 15 February 2012 0039 #

    The photos are really awesome!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 February 2012 1329 #

      Thanks 🙂

  13. Laurel 15 February 2012 1003 #

    I like how different in looks even though the shots are just 15 minutes apart and an interesting history.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 February 2012 1327 #

      Thanks, Lauren.

  14. Ryan 15 February 2012 1201 #

    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.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 February 2012 1327 #

      Yes, I remember that well, too. Yet another tragedy that.

  15. Angela 15 February 2012 1729 #

    Beautiful Taj Mahal, what a striking contrast with the rest of Agra city, even just outside the Taj..

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 February 2012 1557 #

      Isn’t it, though? The rest of Agra was a sad sight.

  16. gayE @ pinaytraveljunkie 15 February 2012 1756 #

    Simply gorgeous! We’re definitely revisiting India just for Taj Mahal. And hopefully we could include it on this RTw trip!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 February 2012 1558 #

      Very much worth a stop, this sad and beautiful building.

  17. Alexa Meisler 15 February 2012 1959 #

    This is always a magnificent site to look at. Wish I could go visit there one day!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 February 2012 1558 #

      Hope you can, too 🙂

  18. Abby 15 February 2012 2321 #

    I “quite” like them, too. Beautiful. That love story kills me!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 February 2012 1600 #

      Such a dramatic story, isn’t it…

  19. Althea18 16 February 2012 1826 #

    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….

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 February 2012 1601 #

      It’s quite the magical place to see, even more than photos can convey.

  20. Laura 18 February 2012 1959 #

    Very nice pics! Taj Mahal is on my bucket list.

  21. InsideJourneys 20 February 2012 0532 #

    Your photos are beautiful. The Taj Mahal and India have been on my list for far too long. Will have make time for it.

  22. Ynna 22 February 2012 0940 #

    Wow! Simply Amazing. And i will definitely visit India just for Taj Mahal. Thanks for the post.

  23. jade 23 February 2012 0706 #

    Ah, Sophie- these are so pretty. love the light off the white.

  24. Mary @ The World Is A Book 23 February 2012 0907 #

    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!

  25. Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 February 2012 2215 #

    Laura, InsideJourneys, Ynna, Jade and Mary – thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated 🙂

  26. Turtle 28 February 2012 1823 #

    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!! 🙂

  27. Jenna 4 March 2012 1856 #

    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!

  28. Taj Mahal Trip 12 March 2012 0755 #

    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.

  29. Jenkins 16 May 2012 0820 #

    Taj Mahal is one of the spotted place because it’s architectural design is beautiful and amazing… Thanks for sharing with us this post…

  30. Suzzane from Travel Universally 28 December 2012 1402 #

    I visited the Taj Mahal but now the walls of Taj Mahal were ruined to some minor extent because of the pollution over there!

  31. Michael Matti 4 December 2013 0309 #

    I’ve never been to the Taj Mahal but it is definitely on my bucket list!

  32. Anirudh Singh 28 December 2015 1918 #

    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.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 January 2016 1923 #

      Thanks you, Anirudh. It’s almost absurdly beautiful, Taj Mahal.

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