In the last week of our recent trip to India, Jenni and I went on an overnight trip from New Delhi to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal.

We arrived at the site a couple hours before sunset so the Sun was about halfway down which meant that as we walked around the campus, and the light changed color, we could see it all on play out the Taj. This was especially delightful. The primary stone in the construction is Makrana marble, which is famous for being strong and translucent.

Main gate to the Taj Mahal

The center of the main gate’s arch is perfectly aligned with the center of the main arch of the Taj Mahal, and both are perfectly aligned due North. Our guide, Tarun, made us aware of this and challenged us to check using the phone’s compass, which I did!

Intricate pattern of white lines on red stone on the ceiling of the arch of the main gate to the Taj Mahal with a clear blue sky behind.

Taj Mahal in the bright late afternoon Sun from just inside the main gate with a clear blue sky behind.

Taj Mahal in the late afternoon Sun, partially obscured by a tree in the garden in front.

We walked the charbagh garden pathways, and made our way as Tarun took some photos of us all the while sharing the story of the Taj.

Main arch on the front of the Taj Mahal showing the stone inlaid patterns of flowers and inscriptions embedded in the marble.

The work to cut stones and inlay them is very intricate and labor intensive and there’s a large industry that continues to do this work, the knowledge of which has been passed down for generations since the time of the Taj’s construction.

Up close detail of stone inlaid flower pattern, and marble relief carving of flowers.

Inside the mausoleum, photography is prohibited, and the outer rooms are cordoned off. The replica of the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan lie in the center, and one can walk around that in a designated path. The actual graves are in the basement underneath but that is inaccessible to the public. This is the original design.

A man with a small flashlight demonstrated how the stones in the inlaid flowers glow when light is applied on them. It is really a wonderful effect, and one that I don’t recall seeing on previous trips. This same man asked for our names by turn and said it out loud as he looked upwards, to sound an echo.

After walking around the inside, we made our way to the outside on the provided path. As we did so, the light of the setting sun made lovely patterns as it made its way in through the carved and perforated marble walls.

Plaza on the backside of the Taj Mahal at sunset with partial views of a minor, the mosque and the Yamuna river.

Main arch on the back of the Taj Mahal with inscriptions around it, and relief carvings on the inside.

Jenni in front of the guest house adjacent to the Taj Mahal with warm sunset light falling on it.

View of the main gate and gardens looking back from the plaza of the Taj Mahal with a large number of people visible on all the paths.

Even a Tuesday afternoon brought a lot of visitors.

Jenni in front of one of the minars of the Taj Mahal with warm sunset light falling on both.

Looking up from the base of the plaza of the Taj Mahal with views of the inscriptions and stone inlay work on two of the side arches, with warm sunset light on all of it and a clear blue sky behind.

Looking up from the gardens towards the Taj Mahal with the mosque in the distance, and the sky with a gradient of blue to yellow behind.

Taj Mahal in the cool white light of dusk as seen from the main gate.

As we made our way back to the exit by the main gate, the Sun set completely and so the Taj appeared a cool white, which was very different from the vibrant yellow and orange it had been in the hours before. I’m pretty sure that previously I had only visited in mid-day so hadn’t seen this effect. Experiencing these changing colors on the Taj was my favorite thing about this visit, which was my third or fourth.

Maybe someday I’ll even see the famous full-moon-lit shade of Taj.

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