Erica and Matt Chua: Agra’s #1 Attraction

Every year millions of tourists flock to Agra to see the white marble, architectural marvel that is the Taj Mahal.  Few leave disappointed.  To enjoy the magic of the Taj give yourself a few days to truly take in this legacy of the Mughal empire.  Seeing the domed mausoleum from several different vantage points will leave you awe-inspired and offer you the best opportunity for a prized photo.

The Taj was completed in 1653 after 22 years of construction and some 20,000 workers contributing their efforts including specialists from as far away as Europe.  It is widely thought to be the most beautiful building in the world.  Shah Jahan built it as a memorial for his second wife, Mumtaz whom died giving birth to their 14th child. Not long after it’s completion Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son and imprisoned in Agra Fort.  He spent the rest of his days only able to admire the Taj from a distance until he was entombed in his own creation next to Mumtaz in 1666.

Unlike Shah Jahan, you are not restricted to viewing the Taj from just one vantage point.  Being that likely your number one reason for paying a visit to Agra is to see the Taj, take time to find your favorite vista.  The four identical faces of the Taj are an exercise in architectural symmetry, yet the eye seems to notice different things from various angles.  Below are my three favorite views, each offering a unique perspective and gave me a new appreciation for this awe-inspiring memorial.

North Bank of the Yamuna River

While each panorama is unique I really enjoyed taking in the Taj from afar.  The stunning sunrise view from the north bank of the Yamuna River, in front of Mehtab Bagh offered the perfect place to take in the entire complex.  Not only do you have a dead on view of the Taj, but you can also see the red sandstone mosque to the west and the jawab to the east, which is identical to the mosque creating a pleasing symmetry.  Away from the crowds this is the best place to really take your time to admire the Taj and an excellent place for photos.

Inside the Taj Grounds

The Taj is far larger than I had imagined and you really get a sense of its enormity when you are standing right in front of it.  The hoards of people inside the grounds can be a turn-off, but being able to take in the details of the exquisite marble screens and pieta dura (marble inlay work) made with thousands of semiprecious stones.

On a rooftop cafe in Taj Ganj

The place to be at sunset is on the roof of one of the many cafes in the Taj Ganj area.  There are few more impressive views to enjoy while having a beer or lassi.  Not only are you removed from the street level bustle and touts, but you can get a great shot of you and the Taj sans throngs of tourists.

Regardless of where you decide to savor the views of this incredible memorial you won’t be disappointed.  The Taj deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status and the adoration of the millions of visitors that come to admire it each year.  If you have a favorite view of the Taj please share it in the comments below.

To see more pictures of Agra and the Taj Mahal click here


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