|Taj in all its glory from Mehtab Bagh|
|A neatly landscaped Yamuna Expressway|
|Entance to Itmad-ud-Daulah' tomb|
|The tomb sitting symmetrically in the center|
|Itmad-ud-Daulah' tomb from other side of the river|
Located on the left bank of Yamuna river, the mausoleum is a commanding presence at the center of a large cruciform garden with hexagonal towers at each corner. The walls are made of white marble with semi precious stone engraved into them forming various images such as trees, wine bottle, cut fruits etc.
|No, this is not a painting. These are semi precious stones engraved into white marble|
|Small but nice rooftop pool of our hotel|
Finally, we went to Hotel Taj Resorts, our stay for the night. Located next to Eastern Gate of Taj Mahal, we were pleasantly surprised to see the hotel. A 3 storey building with a rooftop pool and restaurant, this hotel was more than what we expected for the amount of money we were paying. We were unlucky as the weather was a bit hazy, but you can also see Taj Mahal from the terrace if the sky is clear. A short time in the rooms and we dived into the pool to relax our tired bodies.
|Taj Mahal in the absence of any lights at 9:30 pm|
|Taj during morning haze|
At 9 in the night, we reached Shilpagram from where the visitors are taken in electric vans to the eastern gate. At 9:30, we were escorted by armed guards towards the red sandstone platform of Taj Mahal. We can see Taj Mahal only from this platform as it illuminates in the silvery moonlight. Though marred by the hazy weather, the experience was still good. Back at hotel, we slept early as we planned to capture some pictures of Taj Mahal as sun rises over the eastern mosque.
|A commanding presence it is|
|Fatehpuri Gate from the raised platform of Taj Mahal|
We woke up at 5 am and immediately prepared ourselves for a photography tour of Taj. However, weather was still hazy and we entered Taj hoping that the haze will clear soon. Sadly, it never cleared and we had a normal visit to the majestic symbol of love. Even at 6 am, the place wasn't devoid of crowds and there were atleast 300-400 people already there before us. One very sad picture that I got there was of the many corridors inside the main dome of Taj Mahal. There were huge stains of Tobacco spits there. Back at hotel, we had breakfast slept again to wake up after two hours when we checked out of the hotel and went to visit Red Fort.
|Inside the majestic Mahal|
Red Fort of Agra was built by three generations of Mughal Rulers over 100 years. It was commissioned by Akbar, whose work was followed by Jehangir and later the construction was finished by his son Shah Jahan. While Akbar and Jehangir favored red sandstone for building, Shah Jahan used white marble for construction. Apart from the normal living palace of the kings, Mutthaman Burj or Jasmine Tower is a beautiful feature for its construction in white marble decorated with semi precious stones. Also, Shah Jahan was put under house arrest over the last 8 years of his life by his son, Aurangzeb here only. The view of Taj Mahal from here is not to be missed. Also, we were lucky to see the brilliant Sheesh Mahal from inside. This palace is decorated by thousands of pieces of glass and is also the shooting location of "Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya" song of Mughal-e-Azam, a timeless Bollywood movie. Finally, we left the commanding fort after two hours having visited only the 25% are of the fort. Rest 75% is under Indian Army's possession and is not open to general public.
- For night viewing of Taj, visit when the skies are clear and try taking a slot as late into the night as possible.
- Do visit Mehtab Bagh during sunset to see Taj from a totally different angle.
|Diwan-e-Khas at Red Fort with Taj Mahal in the background|