Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yellow-Tinted Taj Mahal

I don't want to say that the Taj Mahal was a disappointment because it's difficult for anything that beautiful to disappoint.  However, it wasn't quite the highlight of my recent trip to India that I'd hoped it would be.

Of course, seeing the Taj Mahal in person was marvelous.  I'd seen pictures before, but nothing can compare with the sight of the marble structure seemingly rising up in front of you as you pass through the gate.  As annoyed as I was by the hordes of people pushing and shoving their way through the entrance, I couldn't deny how spectacular it was.

I planned my visit to the Taj Mahal poorly, meaning that I didn't plan at all.  So I ended up visiting on a Saturday during a three-day weekend, two days before the full moon, when the Taj Mahal can be viewed by moonlight at night.

Crowds at the Taj Mahal

So, the crowds were somewhat understandable.  What was less understandable was the constant pushing and shoving, to take pictures, to go into the Taj Mahal, to see the mosque and the guesthouse.  It was very loud and chaotic, and it took away from the magic of seeing one of the world's greatest monuments.

View from Taj Mahal to the Gate
I am certainly to blame for going at a crowded time of day.  I ended up entering in the late afternoon after I had already spent the morning at Fatehpur Sikri and sat in a stressful traffic jam for more than an hour on the way back to Agra.  At that point, I was feeling even less tolerant of large crowds than I normally am.  I even considered returning to Delhi without going to see the Taj Mahal.

There was also a thick cloud of pollution over Agra, which I found disturbing.  There is an oil refinery nearby, and this generates a lot of air pollution.  The Taj Mahal is supposedly starting to take on a yellowish hue beacuse of it.  I hope something is done to reduce the pollution and prevent further damage before the Taj Mahal becomes visibly altered.

The air pollution also meant that it was hazy throughout Agra.  When the sun set, the moon was partially obscured by the smog.  I had been considering staying to see the Taj Mahal by moonlight, but once I realized I couldn't actually see the moonlight, I decided to head back to Delhi.

Although I found my visit to be hectic and somewhat chaotic, I was still blown away by the beauty of the Taj Mahal.  The hype is worth it.  If I ever find myself in Delhi again, I'll try to go back at a less hectic time so I can explore in peace.

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