Taj Mahal

OK. Let’s try a few words out for size. Huge. Beautiful. Awesome. Blimey. Hmm. Let’s start again. In England we think we can do impressive buildings. We’ve got a few lying around which are pretty cute. I’ve been to some of them, Castle Howard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Dome, etc etc. But now I’ve been to the Taj Mahal and, sorry guys, this one caps you all.

It is not just the scale, the colours, the materials, but it is the design of the place. This will probably seems bonkers to you, but if you want to look at something where design is everything, go see the Taj Mahal. The design of the place is doing things with your mind before you even know it.

When you arrive the only way you can get your first view of the Taj is through a particular gate in the redstone courtyard. The arch is carefully proportioned to give you the perfect view of the dome which unfolds before you and then recedes slightly in a way which seems magical, but is actually some very clever manipulation of your viewpoint as you move through the gate.

When you get your breath back you can begin to take in the shape and proportions of the dome and the balance of light and shade as it falls on the carefully positioned marble and semi-precious stones laid into it. If you stand and watch, as the sun moves through the sky the shadows on the surface change slightly, so that it looks different.

Look away for a few minutes and then look again and you will see a yet another Taj Mahal. When the mists roll in from the river at the rear of the Taj Mahal it appears to float above the ground because of the way it is built on a platform above the grounds. In the moonlight it is said that it appears to glow. (we didn’t get to see this unfortunately, but one day I’m going to go back and check).

The redstone buildings around the Taj Mahal are apparently designed to be the imported “ugly sisters” that you would place around your daughter so that she is the one that gets picked by a calling suitor. I must admit the guide invented this analogy, not me. Of course any one of them on its own would be pretty special, but next to the Taj Mahal…

The architect has used every trick in the book to make a building just look beautiful in every sense. By design.

Of course I took a bunch of pictures and of course they don’t do the place justice, but here they are anyway.

The money shot

One of the “ugly” sisters

Side view

Another ugly sister

View of the river