Taj Mahal: For the favourite wife – it must be love
Taj Mahal, the sublime shrine to eternal love – meh, here’s the big misconception. I can tell you what really happens inside the Taj Mahal. Love, shmove, this is brutal. Approach the stunning Taj Mahal, and the route to this monument of love becomes, well, a bit less lovey. Built in 1648 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved (favourite) wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it has certainly stood the test of time. But, it’s pretty chaotic in there!
- Leave your ammunition and guns at the door (yes) and join me on the journey
- Find out what else you are not allowed to take in with you
- And finally, take a look for yourself through our fabulous 360 video walk at the end of this post
Keep moving, keep moving
Firstly, on your way to the Taj Mahal, be ready to be marched through your designated lane to be screened, bags x-rayed etc. Choose your lane, Indian women, Foreign women, Indian men, Foreign men, sounds simple now, but in the great rush and panic, you begin to doubt who you are. I checked my skin; I looked at others, okay okay I must be foreign, I’m still a woman – in I go. Be ready to be pushed and yelled at until you pop out the other side. Phew. Glance and nod reassuringly at other fellow travellers, you made it!
Secondly, be sure, the big sign tells you, to leave your explosives, ammunition and weapons at the front gate.
“Huh”, Iain loudly quipped “Yeah, that’s useful; I’ll just pick up my machine gun on the way out.”
I did shush him, reminding him I suspect this is a, ‘never mention the word bomb in an airport even in jest’ situation.
Indeed, your guide will say several times on your tour of love how they are prepared for terrorists, just in case. Yes, thank you for this reminder, you certainly are ready.
Taj Mahal visit: Restricted Items
But seriously, when visiting the Taj Mahal, you should be aware you pretty much can bring yourself and a camera.
- No firearms, ammunition or knives (good, good)
- No lighters
- Sweets (?)
- Tobacco products
- Calculators – yes, I know we all carry calculators
- No headphones
- Mobile chargers
- No tripods
Cameras are okay, and that is pretty much all you need – I suggest you leave everything else behind.
Photos, photos, photos
So then, you do get to approach the beautiful Taj Mahal building. Yes, it is lovely. But do keep your eyes on the prize. Ignore the masses, jostling for photographs, posing, ready dressed for the momentous Instagram occasion. I have never seen so many white women in sari’s, flouncing around looking, well, not very Indian.
Taj Mahal: The approach, brace yourself!
Then, then, you try to enter the Taj Mahal. Now, this is intriguing, and if ever you find yourself in this situation here is my advice. If it is a very, very large crowd and you don’t appear to be moving, at all – ever. Skip it. Leave. Take another walk around the outside and take beautiful pictures—Sari optional.
On departing said inner tour, I heard the loud American; you know that one (Incredible India) declare
“Oh, my, gaud!”
I listened in …
“I have never been trapped with so many people in my life.”
“Never?” asked his guide.
“Not like that no never, that was something I never want to experience again……but, what an awesome experience, I am so glad I did it”.
Now, on this occasion, I wholly got him and nodded in agreement, I just had the same thought.
… Keep moving. Keep moving!
So, here is what happens inside the Taj Mahal. Love, shmove, this is brutal.
First, you wait in the baking sun. There seemed to be a system, of such, that the foreign people, they just were – you could see they were foreign so shh, tried to form an orderly queue to the far left. Maybe they happened to be a British bus tour. On reflection, this sounds very British. Meanwhile, the rest of what seems to be the whole of India surged forward excitedly to the right. Now, periodically you will hear a whistle. And you merge forward a little more. What is going on?
In the Taj Mahal, it’s every man for himself
Well, as you approach the doorway of the Taj Mahal, as love is supposed to be involved, hold on to your loved ones, tightly, or don’t expect to see them again until you get to the other side. But don’t worry if you do lose them, it’s not long, and you will find them again. But, forget your guide, don’t worry about them; they will emerge later.
Save yourself that seems to be the key!
Do not trip over the rifle
Now, the whistle, it transpired, belonged to an overly officious police officer. Not one of the armed police officers outside the door, incidentally watch out for them too, I did nearly trip over a large rifle into the lake pondy moat thing leading up to the Taj Mahal (as I said I had my eyes on the prize not on the men with guns).
Anyway no, this is just the police officer with the whistle who will blow it furiously in your ear if you attempt to stop as you enter and take a photograph. He may also raaaar at you and flail his arms, this I think is designed to keep you moving on. Now I was so bemused by all of this I can’t actually tell you what we were looking at. You are in, I remember, the inner dome of the outer dome that you see from the outside.
Taj Mahal: There is something in there (forgetting the point in the struggle)
What was in there as I say I couldn’t tell you. A replica of the tomb of the real tomb, I think. Thankfully Iain sneaked out his 360 camera device thingy, and you can see it for yourself, below. You have to keep shuffling around the outer rim, looking towards the something, in the middle. Occasionally, everyone prangs to a stop, babies screaming, squashed, men falling on top of you, then you hear the raaaaar and the whistle, and you move on. Are you feeling the love in the room?
It is awesome
However, however, this is not to put you off going. As our American friend declared it is an awesome experience, in full-blown Indian fashion! “Incredible India, Incredible India”, they tell you often – and they are not wrong.
And, I don’t know about you, but looking at the serene photographs of this monument of love, I had no idea such shenanigans were taking place inside that dome! But next time you see it, you now know too. And should you visit?
Love, love, love
And finally, if you want to take a walk through now, click here to follow Iain’s photo tour and have a look inside for yourself!
Be sure to leave a comment below and share.
Would you like to visit the monument of love?