Moments of Solitude at the TAJ MAHAL

To be honest enough, viewing The Taj from up close never really fascinated me during my days of growing up as it used to be an automatic choice for a weekend getaway.

During my school days, I was a tad too young and raw to fathom the reason behind scores of visitors jostling to marvel the white monument, but over time and with improved sense of understanding, things got sorted inside my head.

My musings this time were altogether different as I stepped inside the huge TAJ entrance.

It’s a place that boasts of not only the most visited but also the most photographed monument.

This visit to The Taj, was purely to capture the sheer beauty through the lens.

  • The Taj Compound – I entered the ticketed monument, strolled around the complex admiring the intricate carvings on the sky kissing walls and then was it the time to come out? Certainly not – As the main Taj platform is swarming with people for the better part of the day, I was actually surprised and amused to see that not even 1% of these visitors make it to opposite brick colored mosques. The arches and the doorways offer the best shot overlooking The Taj Mahal.

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The brick colored mosque which opens to the Taj Mahal

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The monument and me!

  • One has to gate crash inside the monument, when it opens at sunrise just to get the perfect symmetrical shot of the Taj facade with fountains in the front. One thing is for sure, that at any time of the year, one of the minarets is under repair, which means scaffolding’s are going to deface the shot.

Perfect Symmetrical Shot

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With a tinge of green

  • Capturing the Taj at sunrise from Hathi Ghat – I must preface saying; the place only belongs to serious photographers. The Ghat is not on a regular tourist trail and features a muddy field situated in the middle of nothing. The barren river bed is quite underwhelming during the day and this otherwise filthy place offers a great vantage point for sunrise photography.
  • The entry to Hathi Ghat is free but you may get soiled shoes in the process.

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Dawn time

  • Sticking to Mehtab Bagh during sunset – These gardens are just about the place to stay around and take pictures. One can soak up the impressive monument from here at any time of the day but sunset viewing is an absolute treat.
  • It’s a decent enough garden and charges INR 15 for Indian nationals and INR 200 for foreigners.

Sunset
And The Gorgeous Hues

  • My favorite point; Capturing The Taj Mahal from a boat – Right at the entrance of Taj Mahal there are two roads one on left and the other to the right. As I took right, I was walking down to a place called Dusshera Ghat on the banks of river Yamuna. I found the place to be secluded apart from some stray monkeys and the effervescent squirrels.

          It was a jaw dropping experience to view Taj Mahal from the river bank.

         I clicked photographs and started my search for the boatman who was to take me              on a boat ride. After some effort, I was able to catch hold of him and Cheez – The                  ride was worth it. Sitting on a rickety boat was quite scary initially but as I started              taking pictures; every ounce of fear just fell away. The boatman named Manoj was            courteous and obliged me by taking shots featuring me in it.

         Dusshera Ghat is not a ticketed place but expect to pay INR 200 and upwards for a              15 min boat ride.

Mesmerizing View

 A sight to behold

The only disappointing part of an otherwise enthralling sojourn was to see the mounds of trash lying all over the flowing river. Let’s take a pledge of not using the non biodegradable things and strongly contribute in making our environment a better place to live in.

Don’t think, it needs any persuasion to stand one more time (Assuming it’s not the maiden visit) and capture the sheer beauty and grandeur in frames for in them lives my memories and nostalgia.

 

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Nature,Birds and Me – Just about the perfect setting to feel immersive 

Seen from afar, this place looks nothing more than a wasteland, stuck between the high rises on all sides. But this wetland is in fact, one of Delhi’s best birding locales, with numerous species catching the eye!

The place, I am talking about is the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, situated right at the Delhi – UP border in Noida. To be precise enough, it is located where river Yamuna enters UP territory leaving behind Delhi. Don’t know why, but I thought that the place would be swarming with people in the morning – as it opens quite early not only for bird watching but also to soak in some unpolluted Oxygen and also due to it’s quaint nature but on the contrary it was all deserted.

I went early and saw a weak looking sun hanging by the eastern sky!

Pathway inside the sanctuary

Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a ticketed place so one can expect a certain degree of cleanliness and fortunately it was decent enough on that front.
I set off on foot inside the park anticipating a lot of birds with their crass call and Boy – I was thrilled to see hordes of waders forging in the water for a sumptuous breakfast. I got myself fixed there for next few minutes to witness their activity and as I started again, something cought my attention – I halted by the side of one of the water body to marvel a mustached warbler calling from reeds and creeping out to look for small insects. It vanished back in the leafy labyrinth as soon as it had appeared. But I must say what held my attention for the major time of my stay was the flock of Flamingoes. I could only see the silhouttes of these beautiful birds in the wee hours!

They seem to be tiptoeing, preening and occasionally dipping their beaks in water to feed themselves.

As far as I can see, it is only water dotted by trees and bushes on the edges…

I decided upon spending some more time of the day amidst the nature and sat on a rickety bench overlooking the water bodies. While I was sitting, admiring the plethora of flora and fauna, I felt a commotion in the water and was amazed to see a flock of waders flying haphazardly in front, as a massive sized Falcon was seen to be on a hunt. I could see the wader live to see another day….

It surely was an absorbing experience seeing birds playing around the branches, hiding behing those labyrinths, absolutely unperturbed by the foreign interference.

It’s a go to place especially during winters when birds migrate from countries as far as Siberia and Slovenia to mate and stay put in a more comforting weather.

For me, it was probably the most apt thing to gaze them doing their bit, for I know nature gives us so much, and we in our own way needs to pay back!!!



The day I went to See the Mausoleum…

Main pathway leading to the Tomb

A dormitory of the Mughals
Sometimes, I wonder if I really like trudging the steps of a Cenotaph just to marvel at it on a boiling hot afternoon but then, I think it is something which makes my heart filled to the brim with joy and contented in ways more than one!

Candidly speaking,I was a little apprehensive when I zeroed down in to this place.

I was trying to figure out what is so special about this structure which not only pulls fellow countrymen but foreigners too.

Phew- I had to admit the rich history,culture and the architectural marvel of the Mughal era which commissioned these incredible tombs which are a sight to behold.

AND I ENTERED THE HUMAYUN’S TOMB…

This grand mausoleum was made by the first Empress of Humayun, named Begum Hamida Banu. She decided to make this tomb in memory of her beloved husband – Emperor Humayun!

Tomb through the lens..

The tomb has a striking influence of the Persian architecture and probably is the first such monument built in South Asia. It is a humongous tomb;one cannot see anything beyond if it’s seen from a distance. It can be surely said that it is a precursor to the Taj Mahal standing on a platform as high as 47 metres.

As I stood by the towering monument,I was awestruck to see the expanse in which it has been built. Further I strolled around the circumference of this massive structure to soak every bit of history that it threw at me.

As it looks from the West Gate

The geometrical sandstone over the high arc (main entrance) and the small minarets that encompass the white marbled central dome gives the Tomb, a distinctive character. Entered inside and I was greeted by the symbolically cut out mihrab(a semi circular niche in the wall of a mosque which indicates the direction of Kabba in Mecca,hence the direction in which Muslims face while praying) facing Mecca over the marble lattices. Construction also includes quite a few elements of Indian architecture like the small canopies surrounding the central dome.

Inside the dome is a centrally placed grave of Emporer Humayun which is encased to avoid any act of vandalism.

The entire tomb is centrally placed out of quadrilteral layout,which is further divided by four squares by paved walkways and two bisecting water channels, a design typical of Persian architecture.

Central walkways terminate at two gates; South Wall and the West Wall – West Wall is being used these days while the South one was operational during the Mughal Era.

Apart from this colossal Humayun’s Tomb, there are few more monuments dotting the pathway leading upto the below structure.

Another view of the Cenotaph

I gleefully sat under the Banyan Tree🌳inside the complex, and gazed at the panaromic view of this Tomb-cum-Garden.

Isa Khan Niyazi’s Tomb inside the complex

As I was walking out of this stunning place, a belief crossed my imagination that we need to come out of our fears and start doing things which actually makes us a better person!

A Medieval Era Stepwell – Ugrasen Ki Baoli

Medieval architectural monuments are so well constructed with their intricate designs to detail that they are mostly inked in the memory ones you see them.
On a searing hot afternoon, I treaded a not so popular destination in Delhi named – UGRASEN/AGRASEN KI BAOLI which is a step well made by Legendary Maharaja Agrasen somewhere in the 14th Century (Although there is hardly any proof to claim it) to preserve water to cope with the seasonal  fluctuations in water availability.

Situated right in the heart of Central Delhi at Hailey Lane over Hailey road near Connaught Place is this gigantic Baoli.  From outside it just doesn’t look that this mammoth construction houses a stepwell  but the moment I took the first step inside this architectural beauty, I was amazed to see the daunting wall boundaries on the two opposite sides with window shaped carvings on it and in the middle were very steep 108 steps leading to the well. The Well had 4 inner arches which typically depicts the Lodhi dynasty style of construction. As I stumbled over the steps to reach the well, I could very well smell the stink of bio wastes from thousands of bats glued to the ceiling screaming against each other.

Much adulation goes out for the then architects, who had that finesse and foresight to construct monuments like these that could withstand the atrocities of not only changing weather and pollution but also the ever increasing human intervention over centuries and still greet us.

Not to forget, scores of men and women sitting, admiring the intimidating structure and taking pictures for it will be their one special outing.

There use to be a few more Baolis in an around UGRASEN KI BAOLI but they got demolished over time due to the urban expansion. This monumental architecture is being looked after and maintained by Archaeological  Survey Of India (A.S.I.) from decades now.

I spent hours gazing at this royal monument for I know deep inside me there sits a soul who thrives for such mesmerizing sights…

Trust in dreams,for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

For years now, I have been pondering on embarking on a journey which would help me in realizing my long awaited dream of travelling indefinitely. There has been some instances in the past where I have gone to places and enjoyed my time with friends and folks but Ican’t count them as special.

Having said that, I knew I had to kick start my travel and boy I did that today!! If I see the sequence of things that preceded my travel then there isn’t anything quite telling but it does bring satisfaction in the thought of getting out of my comfort zone akin home and making an effort in the right direction. Many established globe trotters opine that writing blogs on travelling may sound easy but in reality it is far from being that way.

Today I set out for a quaint place named LODHI GARDEN in Central Delhi.

If I may say, the place might not be on the bucket list of travelers (also the residents)who come to explore the city but then I decided to visit the place and as I set my first foot inside the main entrance of this huge green garden (spread in more than 90 acres), there was serenity all around, much away from the usual hustle bustle. The place amazed me in ways more than one. There are many arterial paths around the garden which is a boon for the frequent walkers. Few things like a beehive hanging from a tree branch, parrot couple cuddling on a tree top and squirrels playing hide and seek was quite a treat.

After gazing these cute tiny creatures for some time I strolled across the length and breadth of this garden to see cobbled streets leading to medieval forts which lack maintenance and care. The forts are pretty popular with the wedding photographers, who bring the prospective bride and grooms for some exotic pre wedding photo shots.

I also witnessed a few lovely clicks for the ones getting ready for the nuptial bond.

As they say, everything that starts has to come to an end and my maiden visit was no different. After a satisfying few hours as I start walking out of the garden,but stopped by to see a group of swans’ relaxing by the lake side and absolutely unfazed by continuous human movement. I slowly started walking towards them, but felt as if they were asking me not to come closer. I respected their privacy and started back.

A few more steps towards the exit, saw a white Heron sitting by the lake side patiently looking for its breakfast to start its day.

All in all I had some absorbing hours marveling the nature.