Taj Mahal Madness

2007.11.13 Taj Mahal Madness

Once again, the kind folks at the travel blog Gadling.com picked one of my photos from their flickr pool as the photo of the day. This time it is of India’s Taj Mahal (last time was the Colonel in a kimono). Not only that, but I won the book “The Complete Travel Detective Bible” in a separate contest. This is what they had to say:

Even though it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, I’d still like to congratulate Gadling reader pixelskew for snapping this amazing shot. It’s so perfectly symmetrical, the only way you can tell it’s not just half of an image doubled over is by looking at the crowd of people at the base of the mausoleum. Just as impressive is the sky, which gradually changes from blue to pink to white to green. Magnificent.

Aww, I’m blushing. I took this on Christmas Eve 2006 in Agra, India. I was on a month trip with my friend Matteo that took me from New Delhi to Goa with Mumbai in between.

We arrived to find a shocking line several kilometers in length and hundreds of Hindus milling about on this most Christian of holidays. Who knew? With the doors closing in a mere hour we first tried to find some rooftop vantage points. The hills around the palace had been carefully constructed though and limited views at best were all that we could get.

So, we did what anyone, so close yet so far away, would do. We bribed the guards at the front gate (the ones with guns). For about $20 each we got tickets and crowded towards the immense wooden gates at the entrance. The gates began to close literally just as we approached. Mob mentality began to spread and the crowd yelled angrily and surged forward to get in. The wooden security check doorway was pushed and broken.

2007.11.13 Taj Mahal Full Shot

The gates closed and luckily we found ourselves on the correct side. Small children began to cry and sometimes disappear in the tightly packed sight seers. My friend picked one distraught child and held her above his head lest she be trampled.

My hand on my wallet, I could only wait until the powers that be unbarred the second line of defense and let us go pouring out into view of one of the most impressive wonders of the world.

How disappointing would that have been to go all the way to India and be denied the best sight of all? Luck was on our side and we watched the sun go down and play subtle yet brilliant colors on the marble building.

In the image, very small at the base is a huge line of people waiting to get inside. Check it out on flickr here.