I’ve been trying to think of the most iconic landmarks around the world – what would they be? Big Ben? The Statue of Liberty? The Eiffel Tower? Sydney Harbour Bridge? The statue of Christ the Redeemer? The Pyramids of Giza? The Golden Gate Bridge? Uluru? The Colloseum?
All contenders I am sure. Another world famous landmark that can surely be added to that list is the Taj Mahal – one of the most, if not the most, recognisable buildings in the world.
If you have read my previous posts from India you will know that what I loved most about the country was the people – the huge number of people, their way of life, and their friendliness. The problem with having one of the most famous buildings in the world in the second most populous country in the world is the sheer number of people who will be visiting at the same time as you. Princess Diana may have had enough power to stop anyone else from visiting at the same time as her (thus allowing that photo to be taken) but for the less famous people such as myself how can you possibly expect to be able to take a photo of such a beautiful building without hordes of people getting in the way?
As a keen photographer this was a something I had thought about quite a lot before our visit and so my expectations were not as high as they might have been. In the end the answer was relatively straightforward – get out of bed at “stupid o’ clock” and get there before anyone else does.
The gates open at 6am by which time there are hundreds of people queuing up to try and beat the rush. Therefore that means you need to get there for around 5.15am to be near the front of the queue. That meant leaving the hotel at around 4.30am. Assuming that is far too early to even contemplate breakfast that means setting the alarm for around 4am. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
As you can see from the photos above we were able to take in the majesty of this amazing building without people getting in the way. It was still dark as we entered the gates in the first hundred people of the day. As the sun rose the colours constantly changed making every photo different. We even experienced rain which provided a welcome respite from the oppressive heat of the last couple of days. We opted to initially enter the mausoleum to avoid the crowds – the Taj Mahal being the resting place of Mumtaz Mahal after all – which was a wonderful experience. This did however mean that we missed out on a quiet “Diana bench shot” which we do regret to a certain extent but can have no real complaints.
By 9am we were heading back to our hotel for some breakfast and a well earned rest before most of the days visitors had even thought about setting off.