It’s been a while since I posted so I will begin the new year with one of my favourite photos of 2014 taken near the Taj Mahal.
My second visit to the Taj Mahal did not disappoint. She is a lady that mesmerises even the least architecturally knowledgeable person like myself. It is a great place for reflection as well as photography. I spent several hours just sitting and gazing upon her from the infamous ‘Diana seat’, as did most visitors.
However, I wanted to see more of her, having wandered through the gardens and circumnavigated her walls several times, it wasn’t enough. I requested my guide to arrange a sunrise viewing from the Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Gardens) the next morning. The gardens stand opposite the Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River and a lesser known viewing platform for visitors.
My co-travellers were not interested in getting up so early, they had seen enough. The tuk-tuk driver showed up as promised, and we raced through the streets of Agra in the dark. Not surprisingly, there was activity in the streets. Indian’s don’t seem to be ruled by the clock like the western world. It was a cold morning, 6 degrees celsius from memory. The cold breeze on my face slapped the sleepiness from my body – I’m not a morning person.
The journey took around 30 minutes, we had to cross the river at the closest bridge, which wasn’t very close at all.
As we arrived at the gate of the gardens, the sun started to peek over the horizon, villagers stirred nearby, cattle began to graze. We were in the middle of nowhere, yet there was a gatehouse, where a man took our money so we could view the Taj Mahal at this ungodly hour in the freezing cold! This is India. There was a sign with all the ‘rules’, including no tripods. Something I don’t bother with these days for this very reason. There are far too many ‘photography rules’ at tourist places these days – it’s either a fear that ‘photographers’ will use their images for commercial use or just an opportunity to leverage from tourists – I suspect the latter.
We were instructed to walk straight ahead and then turn right at the water fountain. Seems reasonable if you could see two feet in front of you. This morning was extremely misty with fog and I feared that the Taj Mahal would be completely covered over and invisible. We turned the corner and there she stood, towering above us and engulfed in fog. Honestly, it felt like I was standing right beneath her. Absolutely breathtaking. I’ve tried to find out more about this phenomenon but all I could uncover is it may be caused by atmospheric refraction. Perhaps someone could enlighten me?
Her serene towers and dome peaked out through the mist and as we walked closer the light grew brighter she gracefully emerged through the fog. It is a sight I will never forget. I looked through my viewfinder to get a picture – damn wide angle. This is one time I wished I had a telephoto with me but only for a moment. Amongst the gardens, lay ruins. Legend says the ruins are the foundations to the Black Taj Mahal (I’ll leave you to google that one).
Barbed wire separated the ruins from the Yamuna River, along with a single armed security guard. Honestly we are out in the middle of nowhere at an ungodly hour.
I stood on the ruins for a higher vantage point as did a handful of photographers that morning, it didn’t seem right but there where no signs saying not to, nor did the guard mind. Seems strange I can’t use a tripod but I can stand on the ruins! Having taken a few pictures, I noticed a dog walking toward me. She stopped in front of me, sat down then started to paw at me. She’d stop, look at me, then start again hoping I might have a treat for her. Her mannerisms were much like the many ‘professional’ beggars on the streets. When I ignored her, she ventured over to the next person and the demands began again. It was uncanny how she mimicked her fellow human beings.
This was my moment, to capture a different perspective of the Taj Mahal and a constant reminder of the breathtaking experience when I turned that corner.
More images taken in India can be viewed here