The tomb’s pristine whiteness stands in stark contrast to all that surrounds it, but all that surrounds it is bustling with energy, while the Taj is surprisingly lifeless. Fitting for a mausoleum, I suppose.
On our first night in Agra, we went to see the Taj from across the river at sunset. Of course it being the end of the dry season, the river was quite low, so we saw more “beach” than reflections. Nice orange glow, though.
Qur’anic verses inlaid with black marble surround each iwan
The next day we woke up before dawn to catch the Taj at sunrise. We got there just after 6 and the place was already hopping. I can only imagine what high season must be like. We walked around. We took some photos. We left. It was both beautiful and boring.
Postscript: I feel uneasy ending this post with the previous sentiment. I don’t like thinking that my words might tarnish someone’s cherished Taj memory or cause someone to strike it off their infernal “bucket list” because I said it was boring. But it’s the truth. There’s no contesting the fact that it’s a work of art or a wonder of the world. Look at these photos—it’s impossible to take a bad picture with the Taj in the vicinity. But at the same time it’s completely vacuous. There’s nothing to it. It’s all surface and no substance. It’s not a museum, library, or government building. No one works or lives here. Nothing important happened here. It doesn’t commemorate a notable person or event. It doesn’t serve an important civic, religious, or technological function. It seems that its only purpose is to be looked at. So we did. And then we were ready to move on.