The Taj Mahal was build as the final resting place for Mumtaz Mahal, by her husband Shah Jahan, one of the great Mogul emperors.
The picture below was my first view of the white marble mausoleum and its four minarets, which I was told by my unofficial, self appointed guide who later demanded Rs 25/- for his services, are angled slightly outwards from vertical so that in case of earth quake they will not fall onto the sarcophagus of Mumtaz Mahal. I'm not sure whether that is true. Many experts have written about the design and layout and the history of this great place and I shall not try to repeat them.
The Taj Mahal - first view from inside main gate
No need to rush. I strolled from the main entrance through the garden towards the increasingly impressive building. The heat of the day was beginning to warm the cool air but it must already have been hotter than I thought. I expected to be asked to remove my shoes before entering the mausoleum but was told the marble was too hot and would burn my feet. Tender footed tourists like me were offered sack shoe covers.
Looking back across the gardens to the inside of the entrance gate, a grand building in its own right.
The great marble plinth with one of the four minarets rising from its corner, the main entrance visible in the background.
This picture doesn't do it justice: the carved marble and inlaid lettering of the Quran. Inside it was too dark for me to take photographs and the my unofficial, self appointed guide was expert in positioning himself to obscure the shots.
I finally shook off the guide, without paying him Rs 25/- , wandered back through the garden along the central canal, and past the team of gardeners who had, in the meantime arrived and begun to manicure and already tidy lawn.
I left the tranquility of the Taj Mahal through the great entrance and crossed the road, passed under an arch way and into a town of narrow, bustling and noisy streets. I don't know its name, but I was back into the real world of heat, grime, hard work and barely disguised poverty. Within a few feet the splendour of the Taj Mahal had floated off into its separate universe.