August 31, 2011
I was working on the last few posts about India and realized that my Taj Mahal post won’t be complete without these iconic images.
This is the famous photo of Princess Diana when she visited the Taj Mahal in 1992. She was on an official state visit to India with Prince Charles but she went to see the Taj Mahal, one of the greatest monuments of love, by herself. It was around this time when their marriage was about to collapse. This photo was used to represent her solitude during her failing marriage.
Fast forward to 2011, my friends and I were determined to have an “iconic” photograph at the Taj Mahal too. We went at the crack of dawn and made it to the site before 7am. They say the Taj looks its best at the crack of dawn or dusk, not at high noon. Besides it would be too hot. Early morning has less people. But obviously, everyone else had the same idea. It was hard to get the perfect shot.
We spent so much time taking photos at the exterior that Ingrid and I were left with only 10 minutes to go through the actual tomb inside. We didn’t get to check out the mosques on either sides of the great tomb. Some of our travel group friends didn’t actually go up or inside the Taj. But I was determined to touch it. I had anticipated this moment for a very long time. And it didn’t disappoint. The energy and mood at the Taj was so powerful.
Here are my favourite photos taken by very generous and patient friends.
This is the money shot! I couldn’t believe we had an unobstructed view and perfectly centred position in the charbagh or Mughal gardens. I had given up on the Princess Diana bench. It was like People Power or potential World War 3 just getting my turn. So while inching our way through the long passage towards the Taj, I saw this opening and a line of about 3 people waiting patiently for their turn. I waited. I asked Stevie Villacin to shoot me using my camera. Then Ingrid told me that my K&Company dress’ colours resembled Princess Diana’s. Totally by fluke.
Thank you Ingrid. Looking at this brings me back to the beautiful light and perfect setting of the Taj.
Oh and I chose to wear my Jackie O sunglasses. These are the same ones she wore in 1978. Nina Ricci reissued it in March 2009, but I got mine two months before release. I met the rep of the eyewear company while he was doing the rounds in Asia. I was hosting the launch of another luxury eyewear brand, he had it in his kit and I told them that I wanted it. Even before I knew it was “the” Jackie O sunnies. I know someone will ask where they can buy these same glasses, the answer is I do not know. This was back in 2009. Here you can see Jackie O wearing the same frames.
Click, click to see more Taj Mahal photos, plus I’m sharing some tips for those planning a trip to India…
Here is my shoe cover. And yes, I wore platform wedges — better for photos. They were light weight and comfortable. I knew we were just going to be out for a maximum of 2 hours. After the Taj Mahal we went back to the hotel to have breakfast and change. In the end I still got a little blister on my small toe, because I hadn’t worn these shoes in a long time.
The gates to the Taj Mahal. Our guide suggested we go there at the crack of dawn. We left our hotel at 5:30. But the process of getting in was quite long. Buses and cars aren’t allowed near the gates. There is a tourism office more than 100 metres from the perimeter. That’s where we got our shoe covers (it came with our tickets). We also had to transfer to a battery-operated trolley to get to the gates. The Taj is now protected from pollution and carbon emissions that are said to be turning the Taj yellowish.
The outer gates of the Taj Mahal. Lines can get really really long here. It is really best to get there at dawn or anytime before 7am. And the process of getting in is long and slow. They check your bags and screen everyone through metal detectors. Very tight security, which is a good thing. No backpacks or big bags allowed. No pens, eyeliners or lipsticks. No video cameras unless previously arranged. No sharp objects. Everything gets confiscated and I’m not sure if there is a storage facility. Make sure you check the rules before getting there. Our guide briefed us really well.
“Its archways mirror the shape of tomb’s archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate the calligraphy that decorates the tomb. It utilises bas-relief and pietra dura inlaid decorations with floral motifs.” Wikipedia.
Note: I’ve been bumping into many friends and readers saying they’re so inspired by our India trip. Our tour was arranged through CV Travel. And the most frequently asked question by most Pinoys is, “mabaho ba?” The answer is, “No. Not at all.”