I came to Agra on a day trip from Delhi, intending to see the famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal. But I left with two love stories, not one. That’s because when I was there, I discovered the other Agra tomb: The Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daula. So I ended up with a better Agra itinerary than if I had planned it in advance.

Not only that, it’s not just about having been to both tombs, and learning about the two love stories. For many months after, I thought about the two tales, comparing them. Examining how I felt differently about them. But it all only came to a resolution during the writing of this article. Let me show you.

The Taj Mahal at midday white marble
The Taj Mahal, famously known as the monument to love

Going to the Taj Mahal, India’s best-known UNESCO Heritage Site

When I arrived in Agra, obviously the first order of business was to visit the Taj Mahal. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, I knew I had to expect the discomfort of crowds. 

There are three different approaches to enter the Taj Mahal complex. My driver suggested the East Gate, which is supposed to be the least crowded. And indeed, that approach looked like a normal (but quite beautiful) street. It didn’t look choked with people. 

But there were still a lot of people at the ticket counters, and passing through the checkpoints. So I have no idea what the conditions would be like for the crowded gates. And then there were the entry procedures and numerous restrictions. 

I began to wonder if the beauty of the building was enough to offset the stress of the heat and the crowds. 

Taj Mahal Entrance fees

  • Foreigner: 1000 Rs
  • Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, and Myanmar (SAARC and BIMSTEC countries): 530 Rs. 
  • Indian: 40 Rs.
  • Children below 15 yrs old enter free. 

*Note: Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. 

Foreigner and SAARC tickets come with shoe covers and bottled water. I shunned the plastic bottled water as I had my own refillable bottle with me (there are refill stations inside). The shoe covers are required for when you get up on the marble platform of the Taj Mahal. They are disposable, but I couldn’t think of any way around it. I guess the tourist numbers are just too many for the Lucknow approach of shoe guards

You can also book tickets for the Taj Mahal online, which I would have done had I known it, because any way to avoid any part of the crowds is a good thing. (Actually, you can do this for any of the monuments under the care of the Archaeological Survey.) 

This entrance section is also where you would get a guide, if there are any official ones left. It seems best to pre-arrange a guide if you tend to prefer this. I did not get one. 

There is supposed to be Wifi inside the complex, but I didn’t try to connect. 

Getting into the Taj Mahal

Getting into the Taj Mahal at a time more or less close to midday is a production in itself. Agra is a tourist town, and draws tremendous crowds all the time. 

I did this visit as a day trip from Delhi by train. That meant about three hours overall was spent just to travel to Agra. It takes another hour just to get to the East Gate from the railway station. Getting the ticket is about another half hour. So even with a morning train from Delhi, arriving at 9:30AM, by the time you actually get to a Taj Mahal gate you’re looking at 11AM plus. 

Then, at the gate, you will undergo security checks. This page gives an excellent summary for what you cannot bring into the Taj Mahal. The reasons broadly relate to security, keeping the complex clean, and prohibiting pro camera work. Basically, don’t bring whatever you can’t bring into the cabin on an international flight (except a filled water bottle, which is ok), and leave all notions of movie-making behind. 

This line is very long, and very tedious. If you’re doing this as a day trip, don’t bring any of that stuff and travel super light to shorten your own inspection time. And don’t bring food. They will take it away. 

Inside the Taj Mahal complex

When you get into the Taj Mahal complex, you join up with the rest of the people who came in from the other two, more popular gates. Entering through the grand gate, you get your first view of the Taj Mahal at the end of the famous long pool.

Late morning crowd entering the Taj Mahal gardens on Eid-ul Adha with the Taj Mahal in the distance against blue sky
The real view of Taj Mahal, with everyone else in the shot

Unlike in the Red Fort of Delhi, you are not allowed onto the garden lawns – only on the paths. This is probably due to the sheer numbers of tourists. 

On top of that, while in the garden, you would also be approached by professional photographers offering their services. I guess if you want this kind of service, this is convenient.

As for myself, I was expecting to be left alone to gaze upon the work of art that is the Taj Mahal. So this was annoying to me, especially after having spent a stressful morning travelling from Delhi (hey, I’m not a morning person!) and passing through multiple knots of crowds, under the blistering hot sky of August. 

I did have a few photos of myself with the Taj Mahal. But I got them the old-fashioned way. A young Indian family with a baby asked me to take photos of them. And in return they offered to take mine. 

Tourist photo in the Taj Mahal garden, with the mausoleum in the background against a lightly clouded blue sky
Taken by another tourist

Is the Taj Mahal worth going to in person?

I’m not detailing all of these obstacles and annoyances just to whinge. This is all necessary context so bear with me. 

So anyway, by this time I was beginning to question whether this world-class monument was really worth the trip. I was grumpy, and I was having flashbacks to the cool mountains of Annapurna and its warm and frank rural hospitality. 

But here’s the thing. 

As you approach the Taj Mahal, and the details begin to define itself – so subtle, never overshadowing the alabaster paleness of the white marble –  those annoyances melt away. 

There were no angles, no part of the edifice that was not beautiful. Do you understand how remarkable that is?

The Taj Mahal view from below, gleaming white at midday
Outstandingly beautiful

The Taj Mahal that I got was a white one, because I came at midday, on a fairly blue sky day. People say that if you went at sunset or sunrise, the white marble takes on a different cast, because its slight translucence takes in the coloured spectrum at those times.

Even so, when I examine the images of the white Taj Mahal that I took, it’s quite remarkable how responsive it is to filters and image adjustments. Slight tweaks have more of a visual effect than other photography subjects. And yet, I would swear that each of those tweaks are all faithful versions of the real Taj that I remember. 

At close examination, its beauty still holds up. The marble is carved with flowers in bas-relief, and with intaglio arches. Pietra dura wreaths formed frames at select locations in the design, giving small touches of colour to break the marble whiteness of the building. 

It was like Annapurna after all, in that I forgave all the suffering once I laid eyes on the prize. 

A beautiful gem needs a beautiful setting

The sign of a good architect, is that he/she knows that the design is not just about the building itself (although it is essential). The design is about the entire experience of the building.

The landscape around it, the views on approach. The buildings that need to be there, and the other buildings that have to be added to maintain the aesthetic. 

A lot of monuments fall short because either the designer failed to take into account these things, or their successors did not understand it, and failed to preserve these crucial handmaidens of their iconic buildings. 

But the Taj Mahal does not suffer these failures. All of its buildings are intact. The approaches to the gates are intact. The lines of sight intended by the architect are intact.

There is no part of the experience that was not beautiful and graceful. Even the places where you get directed to the bathrooms and the water filling stations are graceful. 

The Taj Mahal as a monument to love

The Taj Mahal is famous for being the symbol of the romantic love between the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his empress, a Persian noblewoman named Mumtaz Mahal. They met and got engaged as teenagers, but since there would not be an astrologically auspicious time for the wedding for five years, he waited until he was 20 to marry her, which was like forever at that time. (Meanwhile he married two other women). 

However, when they eventually did marry, it was a fabulously happy marriage, which lasted about 16 or 17 years until Mumtaz Mahal died delivering their 14th child. The loss of his wife was what impelled Shah Jahan to concentrate his architectural passion into the construction of the Taj Mahal.

It was where he finally interred his wife, and where he was eventually laid to rest himself, by her side. 

Entrance arch of the Taj Mahal to the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan
Entering the tomb of the royal lovers

I don’t really feel it.

I guess I’m glad that the monument got built. Its architectural and marble craftsmanship beauty is such that you really don’t care why it got built. But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t clear on the link between grieving love, and awesome yet limited-purpose buildings.

I mean, I get that the man loved her exceedingly. He had to, to approve such phenomenal spend from his royal treasury. (Hopefully it was expense that could be spared). But it tells me nothing whatsoever about her – what was she like? why was she beautiful to him?

Now if he had built a mosque, or a library, or a botanical garden, or a university, or a series of zawiya, or a theatre, then I could see something of who she was as a woman. But the tomb gives me nothing about her. Him maybe, but not her. 

And another thing.

I’m actually glad I made this stop last, instead of going to the Taj Mahal straight after Nepal. By then I had seen other places in Uttar Pradesh, and heard its history from the tour guides.

If this mausoleum was emblematic of such a great love, then I don’t understand how two reasonably benevolent and competent royals, who were a happy couple in love, managed to raise an intolerant despot like Aurangzeb who imprisoned his own father and did such things as boil people alive, which has remained a trauma in the nation’s memory until today, such that even a casual traveller like me still learn about it hundreds of years later.

There, I said it. 

Of course, I’m well aware that up until recent times, childcare standards were different, especially for royalty. But still, I’m not used to supervillain origin stories that involve them coming from happy and loving parents. So I can’t help but wonder if this great love was just about each other, and never spilled over to the care of those around them. 

Discovering the other mausoleum in Agra

My driver asked me where I would like to go next, after lunch. I had him for the day, so I had a freer hand on which monuments I would visit. The Red Fort of Agra? The site of the Black Taj? Or perhaps the other Agra tomb, the ‘Baby Taj’? It’s just about possible to do all three. 

But I don’t like to rush my tours. I told him I would rather be selective, and soak in only a few spots. So he suggested that I skip the Red Fort, since I had already seen the Red Fort of Delhi.

But the ‘Baby Taj’ intrigued me. The guide said it was ‘like the Taj Mahal’, but very different, a precursor to it. He said that it was also a lot less crowded because it was a more obscure attraction. Most people would go to the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, but this would wipe out my whole day.

An under-visited hidden gem? I was sold. 

Family mausoleum built by Empress Nur Jahan, the Tomb of I'timad ud-Daula (popularly dubbed 'Baby Taj')
The Tomb of I’timad ud-Daula, aka the ‘baby Taj’

Passing by the Red Fort of Agra

Along the way we passed by the Red Fort of Agra, high up on a hill. My driver offered to stop for a moment so I could at least take photographs from the base of the hill.

The columned protrusion that we saw was where Shah Jahan supposedly liked to be. From there he could look towards the Yamuna river, upon the tomb of his beloved wife.

Balcony in the Red Fort of Agra where Shah Jahan used to look out to the Taj Mahal
Remembering the love of your life

My driver also pointed out a smaller piece next to it, which was supposed to be where the Taj Mahal’s architect was imprisoned. Legend has it, it was so that he could not design another building to rival the Taj Mahal. He too, was allowed to look upon his life’s greatest achievement during his lifelong incarceration (note: there is no actual historical evidence for this legend). 

If you do choose to go to Agra Fort, the entrance fee is 500 Rs. for foreigners. 

Entrance fees into the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah

We soon arrived to the ‘Baby Taj’. Entering the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah was a lot more straightforward than the Taj Mahal. The entrance fee for foreigners is 250 Rs.

There is also supposedly a 25 Rs. charge for a video camera. I was asked at the ticket check, even though no one else was asked. I doubt that this applies to camera phones, since the signage at the Taj Mahal suggested that it was more for bigger cameras, like for serious videography. 

The tomb built by a Mughal empress

Also located by the Yamuna River (but on the opposite bank), the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah is smaller than the Taj Mahal, and much more intimate in its layout. Despite being called the ‘Baby Taj’, unlike the many other edifices and buildings across India (or even outside India) which try to copy the Taj Mahal’s architectural style, this tomb is not a copy. In fact, it was built earlier

In addition, the ‘baby Taj’ has a completely different look and style, more latticed and lacy and feminine. The inlay work is intricate, giving the impression of a building that is finely embroidered. In fact, the quality of the pietra dura art far surpasses the Taj Mahal’s, in my opinion. And the marble lattice windows just blew my mind. 

Within, the shadowed interior splits into chambers connected by short passageways, each one hosting different tombs. Although it is dark inside, the interior walls and even the ceilings are richly decorated with the best artistry of the Moghul craftsmen. The mood is close, but not oppressive.

The tomb for a family, not a couple

The builder of this tomb was a woman. She was Empress Nur Jahan, stepmother of Shah Jahan, and she built it to inter the remains of her family. Although the tomb is named after her father, unlike the Taj Mahal, this is a family tomb. Her mother is also interred there, as are several other relatives. 

Unlike the Taj Mahal, this tomb was not designed to be viewed from afar. It houses spaces for people to actually come visit the memory of the departed. 

However, I could also see why the driver said it was very like the Taj Mahal. It is also a symmetrically laid out mausoleum, with symmetrical gardens. The quality of its artwork is equal to the Taj Mahal, not a poor imitation or a less developed prior art. But in terms of scale, it is smaller – hence, ‘baby’ Taj. 

Within its walls is a garden that is yet to be fully restored to Nur Jahan’s original concept. The pools are not running with water, for example. I thought, maybe I would return someday, when they finished restoring it. I wanted to see what Nur Jahan had meant the gardens to be like. 

There is a peacefulness to the mausoleum complex. I stayed a lot longer in this place than I thought I would. I felt the smaller scale made it truer to its purpose, and less extravagant on the empire treasury. The Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah felt more intimate and welcoming. 

As if on cue, I watched as two brothers ran a light chase around an aqueduct in the garden. No children ran playing in the Taj Mahal garden. 

Children running at play within the mausoleum gardens of the Tomb of I'timad ud-Daula in Agra, India
Children at play before the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daula

The badass Mughal empress you didn’t know about

When I was there, I eavesdropped on a tour guide and discovered that the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah was built by the wife of an emperor: Jahangir, father of Shah Jahan. She was also related by blood to Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal of the Taj Mahal.

At the time, the family relationship descriptions caused me to glaze over, taking me back to my childhood and my mother explaining to me exactly how the relatives we were visiting for Eid were related to me, and to each other, and to God knows how many other people, until I forgot all of it through sheer information overload. 

But in order to write this article, I went to look it up to get it straight. Who was this empress Nur Jahan? And whaddya know, I discovered an even more interesting love story than the Taj Mahal story. 

It turned out Nur Jahan was a Persian noblewoman whose father served in the Mughal court under Emperor Jahangir’s father. She was highly educated, intelligent, witty, strategic, and brave (like, she used to go tiger hunting with the men and was a legendary crack shot).

Now I know you guys are going to find this difficult to believe in our era, but there seems to be consensus that the emperor was attracted to Nur Jahan because of those things. Yes, I meant to type ‘because’. I didn’t mean ‘in spite of’.

In another time and place, apparently those were things that were desirable in a woman. Like, he’d marry you kind of desirable. 

The Mughal power couple

Not only that, but they had an interesting and unconventional royal marriage.

Jahangir was not exactly the most competent of the Mughal emperors. In fact, he struggled with a drinking and drug problem. Yet, even though this was an even more patriarchal and misogynistic era than today, he openly trusted her intelligence, competence, wisdom, and loyalty absolutely. 

Instead of feeling threatened by his wife actually being more skilful at ’emperor-ing’ than himself, Emperor Jahangir gave Nur Jahan a lot of trust in co-administering the empire – at a level that had never been given a Mughal consort before her, or since. And his trust unlocked all the bonus abilities of a Power Couple. 

For example, she held court together with him, or even alone if he was ill. He trusted her with the imperial seal, and coins were minted that bore her image. This just does not typically happen, in any monarchic system. 

In return, her intelligence and rulership capabilities brought prosperity to his empire. She built great buildings and caravanserais and gardens. She was a patron of crafts and arts. Some fashions we associate with India today, was all her.

I will wait now for you to recover the remains of your blown mind. 

Window of latticed marble surrounded by Mughal pietra dura marble inlay craft on the Baby Taj (Tomb of I'timad ud-Daula) in Agra, India
A woman’s touch

Jahangir & Nur Jahan

But that’s not all. Even the love story between her and Jahangir is way more interesting as a romance. I would say it’s like a much more complicated and higher stakes version of a Jane Austen novel, or maybe Brontë. There’s just a lot more plot compared to the story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.

Jahangir was not Nur Jahan’s first husband. She was in her 30s when they married. And she was his 20th wife – although they married no one else after each other. She was widowed when he married her, reportedly after he tried to put her in his harem. So this is not the typical Disney fairytale pairing of teenagers. 

It isn’t clear whether they met and fell in love, went their separate ways, and were later reunited by fate. Or whether they met when she was widowed, and he was smitten instantly. Or whether she was reluctant when she first came in the service of the dowager empress, but was won over after 4 years. Maybe she was even like, nuh-uh, I’m not going in a harem for this concubine nonsense – it’s Empress or bust! 

Whichever is the real version, it is still way more interesting than the Taj Mahal story. I mean, you have good backstory and characterisation for both leads. Enough said. 

The love of a woman

Like Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, their marriage also lasted about 16 years. (Yes, I did the math). Nur Jahan may or may not have borne Jahangir children – but definitely not 14 children. But history shows she was not just a clever consort furthering her own interests.

When her husband got captured, she mobilised an army to get him back, entering battle herself on a war elephant. Although she lost the battle and was also captured, her intelligence still came to their rescue. Not only did she escape, but she also organised an army under the nose of her captors, and finished the rescue.

Even after Jahangir died, and the power balance shifted, she remained loyal to him. 

This was a woman who was super intelligent, and had control of the richest empire in the world. She could have strategised anything she wanted. What did she do?

She actively supported her husband’s rule, and made him look a better emperor than he was, staying with him through his addictions. She adopted his child Shah Jahan and his grandchild, and went to war to rescue him. And when he died far from home and was buried in Lahore, she built her own tomb there, so that she would be buried near him*. Not in this one with her family. 

Let me tell you something. However they ended up together, that was a woman who greatly loved a man. She just didn’t say it in words. And that man loved her back, however unusual she was. He took great political risks to honour her. 

As an unusual woman, I found their story devastatingly romantic. 

Corner tower of the Tomb of I'timad ud-Daula with the main entrance gate in the background | 'Baby taj' of Agra, India
A woman’s love story

The marble artisans of Agra

I had a little bit of time left after visiting Nur Jahan’s family tomb. My driver asked if I would like to visit another monument. But after the two Tajs (Taj’s? Tajes? what’s the plural for ‘taj’?), I did not feel like seeing another one. I felt it would ruin the symmetry of the day. 

Seeing me hesitate, he asked if I preferred to visit the artisan shops instead. Specifically, the marble artisans who were the present-day custodians of the Mughal arts that were displayed on the two monuments of Agra. 

There was a rightness to that. I wanted to see what has survived of the remarkable artistry of their ancestors. 

The Mughal marble inlay craft, today

My driver brought me to a place where they also tell you about how the pietra dura work is done. It is actually quite simple in theory, just requiring a great deal of marble working skills. A design is etched on the marble base, and carved out. Then, in the empty space, pre-cut pieces of semiprecious stones are laid in. 

Today, the subsequent generations of the original artisans continue the inlay art. With improved tools, I think it can even surpass the work on the Taj Mahal in fineness. 

There was no obligation to buy, and I did not feel harassed at any time. The inlaid marble display plates are lovely, especially the ones with mother-of-pearl. But they are quite expensive. Nor does it really fit anywhere in my apartment, unfortunately.

However, they also sell a simpler version of the art in the form of marble fridge magnets. This was both suitable for my apartment as well as falling within my price range. 

The Taj Mahal vs the ‘Baby Taj’

Inevitably, the question of which tomb is ‘better’ comes up for reflection. I actually thought about this off and on for a long time, about the different ways each tomb made me feel. Over the space of a year, my views shifted and changed. 

I reflected on how the overwhelming beauty of the Taj Mahal feels a bit like you’re invited, but to admire some other person’s love that doesn’t involve you. Kind of like your Facebook feed if you have a lot of peers who like to post ‘relationship pictures’ and OTT weddings. 

I would say that the Tomb of I’timad ud-Daulah is like when you see the more real and communal face of love in the Facebook feed. Modestly sharing life milestones with loved ones who are far away. Thanking close friends and family for helping with the kids while your significant other was in the hospital. Telling them about a charity run you’re doing in memory of a parent who passed away of cancer. 

They’re both beautiful. But they honour different things.

Front view of the white marble architecture of the Taj Mahal | UNESCO World Heritage Site of Agra, India

The poem of Pablo Neruda, and why it’s relevant

When I was preparing to go to Chile last year, my Guatemalan-American friend insisted that I read Pablo Neruda poetry, to prepare to visit Santiago and Valparaiso. At least one, he insisted.

When I procrastinated, he took it upon himself to recommend the translation of a poem that he felt was the most moving of all of Neruda’s poems. “I’m not a sensitive guy,” he insisted. “But even I cried at this. You have a heart of stone if you read this and didn’t cry.” 

But I didn’t cry. And he has never let me go on that. “Heart of stone,” he would reiterate whenever it comes up. 

Yes, I did read the poem. All of it.

But where he found moving words of a man consumed by a great love for a woman he had lost, I couldn’t help but read between the lines. I saw a man who didn’t do anything to make the woman feel loved and appreciated while she was there with him. And then he lamented most dramatically after she left to be with someone who appreciated her.

Even though he loved her that much, the poem was just a passive sort of regret. He was not impelled by this love to win her back, even though she was not married to this new guy or anything. I guess the poet was at least honest enough to leave those details in.

So, I wasn’t feelin’ it. I didn’t get it. I told him so. And though he could logically accept my reasoning and see where I was coming from, he could not explain why I was still wrong and it was the most beautiful love poem ever, and I have a heart of stone. For him, that the poet dedicated his best craft to her, and his longest emotional attachment – even in her absence – was the pinnacle of male affection. 

And it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, men and women see romance differently. 

A man’s great love, and a woman’s great love

So here we have a tomb built by a man who greatly loved his wife. An architecture lover who could afford to spare no expense to build exactly what he wanted to honour her. And that’s exactly what he did. 

And there we have a tomb built by a woman who was loved like that. A woman who effectively controlled the same level of resources, who was also a patron of architecture in her own right, so much so that it was idiomatic.

But the empowerment of that love impelled her to build not just palaces, but also gardens, and great caravanserais for travellers into the land. And when she did build a tomb, it was for her family. Not for him. 

My epiphany was that it is not a competition, nor is it an equal comparison. The two together formed a beautiful asymmetry.

A view of the Baby Taj from the garden | Mughal monument of Agra, India

The romance of asymmetry

In its most basic biological-familial sense, the male’s highest expression of love is to dedicate all his earthly resources to his mate. And the female’s highest expression is to take those resources and use it to amplify creation to support him – whether it is 14 children, or an abundant and prosperous nation. 

That’s why these things are ‘romantic’ in courtship. The very fact that great love is not the same for a man and a woman, is what is beautiful. It is what gives our species a momentum and flow, rather than the stagnation of equal sameness. 

When it is the right way around, and not broken by distrust, the very asymmetry of male and female loving creates the most beautiful and abundant human partnership.

And so, without planning to, in the one day I was in Agra I managed to visit not one, but two of the most beautiful buildings (and love stories) in the world. 


*I noticed she built one tomb for him, and another tomb for herself, side by side. Instead of one tomb for the both of them. How’s that for gender equality?

What do you think? Did you like my epiphany? Or do you have a favourite?

17 Responses

  1. Arif khan says:

    “All good things are wild and free”.

  2. Agra tour says:

    If you have by no means been to the Taj Mahal,
    it’s a should-see place in the heart of the town.

    • Teja says:

      Indeed. But I wish there were as many tours for the Baby Taj. As a woman, I found it more interesting to see the architecture built by an Empress, not an Emperor. And besides, Nur Jahan was far more interesting. All we know of Mumtaz Mahal was that she got pregnant a lot and had babies, which is pretty boring. I mean, that’s not really hard for a woman to do.

  3. Nice Blog…Taj Mahal is a great symbol of love, Thank you for sharing the information with us. I really enjoyed reading your post, Agra is a very beautiful place many people come and enjoy there holiday.

  4. Cherene Saradar says:

    I always enjoy your writing. Your photos are freaking incredible. Interesting take on the love story and I totally agree that they totally failed as parents! LOL. In modern days he would be in juvy! But you are correct in that it is SO hard to describe how beautiful this place actually is.

    • Teja says:

      LOL my hairdresser says I need to be in more of them! I need to learn how to look as natural as you do in photos !

      Yes, totally worth going in person, right? Even with all the hype, even with its image splashed everywhere worldwide, still an in-person attraction. You can’t always say that for landmarks.

  5. Tasha says:

    I didn’t realise that the Taj Mahal looks like a different colour in different lights, so interesting! I also enjoyed reading the love stories :)

    • Teja says:

      Seriously, if you ever go there, whatever people say, stay the night so you can see the other colours. I wish I’d done that – Agra is more than just the Taj Mahal.

  6. That’s fascinating. I had no idea about the second story. I’ll never forget my visit to the Taj Mahal and the madness outside. I had to store my tripod outside and I would never have got it back if it wasn’t for the help of a young boy who pushed through the crowds and got it for me. It was pitch black by then and I wanted to give him some money but I couldn’t see in the dark how much the notes were for. I gave him one and to this day have no idea whether I gave him a pittance or a fortune!! Hopefully somewhere in between.

  7. This was a really interesting read. Honestly, I could never bring myself to be awed by Tajmahal as a symbol of love, not even when I was a child and believed most of the things people told me. It’s sure an architectural marvel, but love.. questionable. The other love story of Jahangir and Noor Jahaan is way more interesting to me and it has been so nicely put by you. I have visited all these places when i was vey young, but I can still remember the beauty of these tombs

    • Teja says:

      Right?? I feel it is so unfair that it is the lesser known story! But I think, the Taj Mahal one is more romantic to men, and so became more well known, because there’s more focus on how the man proved his love (according to the male gold standard that is). Maybe I don’t get it because I’m a woman!

  8. Gina says:

    I’ve always wanted to see the Taj Mahal, but the groups of tourists are really putting me off. I would honestly rather stay somewhere in Agra overnight so I can go at the butt crack of dawn.

    • Teja says:

      Yes, I would totally recommend staying a night at least, no matter what people say about it being ‘not necessary’. On the other hand, somehow when you’re inside, up until you get to the marble platform, the crowds don’t feel quite as bad. I think maybe the spaciousness of the gardens and the sheer size of the monument – that scale makes you notice it less, I think.

  9. neha says:

    Your post brought back to me fond memories of visiting the Taj years back with my family. Even I could never relate to it as a symbol of love. Nevertheless the architecture of the monument really stands out and it is indeed a white beauty like none other. Tomb of I’timad ud-Daula is much lesser known, thanks for the virtual tour. Had missed it on my own tour.

    • Teja says:

      Yeah, I’m glad the driver suggested it. It feels like it’s been under restoration for a while. Even then, the garden is still being restored. But the story is just incredible. It should be more famous.

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