Extra Credit: Photographs of the Taj Mahal, Take Two

Photographing the Taj Mahal, My Second Experience

The first time I visited the Taj Mahal, I was only in Agra for part of the day and I only saw the Taj from the vantage point of the Taj complex. This year, I returned to Agra and was there for two and a half days. It was a great time. People always tell me and I always read online that Agra is super annoying and to go see the Taj and get out. I was there with my mom and we had a nice experience. A few of the tuk-tuk drivers were a bit much but other than that we had no problem. Since Agra can supposedly be overwhelming, I got us a room at a four star hotel so that we would have a retreat. I must admit the breakfast spread was amazing and I want to go back.

Anyway, the day we arrived in Agra we did not go straight to the Taj Mahal complex. We went instead to the Agra Fort. From the Fort you can see the Taj. These are the views Shah Jahan, the patron of the Taj, as it was built for his wife, Mumtaz, had in his final years. Jahan was imprisoned in the Fort by his son, Arangzeb. I did enjoy the views of the Taj. However, I did not find Fort that exciting. It was not very big. I have been to multiple forts in India and I do not love any of them.

View of the Taj Mahal through an arch at the Agra Fort, 2018

Vertical view of the Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort, 2018

Horizontal view of the Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort, 2018

The next morning we went to the Taj Mahal complex. We got there around 9am. It was nice because there were not a ton of people there yet and the light was nice. We were able to make photographs pretty unobstructed the whole time. While walking around the complex I tried to take photographs from a different view. I also walked to some different areas.

I had put a photograph of the Taj from our hotel room on Facebook and a friend asked me to put better photos on the FB later. I never did, I will point him to this post. However, I had his voice in my mind as I made photographs. Trying to make photographs another photographer would think were good. I hope I succeeded.

It was also nice to be there with my mom. The previous time I was alone. We were both taking photographs and we definitely made images from different vantage points. I bet she got some good ones that I did not. I always think it is cool to see how different people see the world. Through comparing photographs taken at the same place we can compare visions.

Entry in the Garden is Prohibited, Taj Mahal, 2018

A couple on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal, 2018

The Taj Mahal framed by trees, 2018

That evening, my mom and I went to Mehtab Bagh Park which is across the river from the Taj Mahal. A legend says that there was going to be a black Taj built there for Shah Jahan’s burial but the archaeological evidence suggests that it was an extension of the garden around the Taj Mahal. Typically a Mughal garden would be a complete square around a central building.

Everything I had read about visiting the park said not to go alone and do not stay after dark. Generally I do not worry while traveling in India. However, this is one warning I suggest heeding. In the park itself I felt fine but to get there you travel way outside of town and go through some seedy areas. The park is vast with a number of trees, so someone could do you harm if they really wanted.

That being said, I am glad we went to the park. It was a peaceful place. There were not many people there so it was easy to make photographs. If you hate dealing with people while making photographs it is the place for you. I think most of the photos I made there are nice photographs.

My mom and I did have a plan for Agra which included making photographs of the Taj from three different locations and at different times of day for different light. We only missed one photo opportunity that I am aware of which is from the rooftop cafes in Taj Ganj. Maybe will will get to this next time. I am pretty happy with our photo results and I suggest staying an extra day in Agra to check it out. There are other things to see in Agra, which I will discuss in later posts. Stay tuned!

If you have been to Agra, I would love to know about your experience! Tell me below!

Couple enjoying the view of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh Park, 2018

Taj Mahal with architectural elements in Methab Bagh Park, 2018

View of Taj Mahal complex framed by branches in Methab Bagh Park, 2018

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By |2018-09-08T19:04:56-05:00September 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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