A visit to the Taj Mahal is on many person’s bucket list. Well, Tamara and I spent two months travelling across northern India, starting in Delhi.
We started our trip at Majnu Katila, a Tibetan enclave in the north of Delhi, while we explored Delhi itself.
Our Visit To The Taj Mahal
From Delhi we took a bus to Agra, specifically to visit to the Taj Mahal. Now I can tell you that Agra itself is not a splendid city. It is quite ordinary. And one of the most notable features is the large number of buses that arrive with visitors from rural India. Moreover, it is obvious that the visitors are in Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
It seemed like whole villages of people were visiting the Taj. They all seemed to be groups of two or three men and lots of women. It was as though it was women’s day out to see the monument!
The women you can see here were lined up patiently, waiting like us to get into the Taj Mahal. The queue snaked back and forth, and we were in the line snaking back the other way behind them.
What you cannot see beyond the frame of the photograph is that the group is much bigger – perhaps thirty women in the group.
My eyes were everywhere, and it was Tamara who spotted the shot. She has such an eye for spotting photographs! She prompted me, and that’s when I took this photograph.
How the colours of their saris stood out in contrast to the white marble of the buildings. What you may not notice is that the women are barefoot beneath their saris. The women were in a good humour, like one big family and very close with one another both physically and in their behaviour towards one another.
About The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, the Crown of the Palaces as it is called, dates to the 1640s and is an ivory-coloured marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in Agra. The Yamuna is one of the source rivers of the Ganges.
Trace the Yamuna back to its source and you are high up in the Himalayas.
The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered the building of the mausoleum to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. And after Shah Jahan’s own death it became a tomb he shared with his wife.
The exterior of the Taj Mahal is decorated with geometric patterns. However, Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration on graves. Therefore, the crypt that contains the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are plain.
Within the mausoleum the couple are laid out with their faces turned towards Mecca. And compared to the huge scale of the mausoleum, the room that contains the crypt is small. I recall that we were of course part of a long winding number of people circulating around the room and out again.
The Itimad Ud Daulah in Agra
Now if you visit Agra, there is another mausoleum that is also beautiful and wonderful to visit. it is the Itimad Ud Daulah, or baby Taj, as it is sometimes called. It lies on the eastern bank of the Yamuna river, away from the centre. It is a fine, dainty, inlaid-box of a building set among trees and formal gardens.
We travelled from one side to the other across the north of India when we visited. We went to many villages, towns, and cities, and what we saw was that women in India wear saris.
Of course everyone knows that. But if you have not visited India you might think that women only wear them for special occasions. In fact, no. Saris are everyday wear for women everywhere.
Some of the fancier ones are dazzling, with glittering gold and silver appliqué – a rainbow of colours. They can be made of silk, brocade and organza. or plain cotton. But always beautiful.
A sari has a lot of material in it – six-and-a-half metres (21 feet) long and about one metre (39 inches) wide. It doesn’t matter whether the woman who buys it is slim or not so slim, tall or short – all saris are this standard length. And wrapped up, the bundle that is a sari is heavy.
Women wear saris with a choli, a tight-fitting, short blouse, and they have a drawstring petticoat into which the sari is bound.
Which brings us back to the Taj Mahal. As you can see, from the clothing the women in the photograph are wearing, it looks like they had dressed up in their finest saris for their visit to the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal greeting card featured in this post is for sale. Click this link Taj Mahal or the image at the top of this post and it will take you to the page for the card.