visiting the Taj with the group in the middle of the day, I decided that I would go back the following morning to spend more time with the white marble beauty.
Getting up when it was still dark, I got to the gates just after 6.30am, which was the time of sunrise - the Taj complex is not open until sunrise nowadays. I paid entry again, at the Foreigner rate, went through the metal detectors, and made my way inside for that first glimpse of the mausoleum through the red sandstone gateway.
And there was the Taj, in peace. In the serenity it was surely intended. With just a handful of other people there at the time, all was still. The fountains all along the water feature were off, and the reflection into the water was stunning.
Without the crowds, I could take my time, get photos from every angle with no people in them, and take in the detail of the manicured ornamental gardens. I could stand still and soak in the view of one of the most incredible sights in the world, without being hurried or moved along by anyone.
Walking along the water feature again, and making my way up to the home of the cenotaph, I was a group of about 12 people completing the full visit. This meant the experience of inside was silent, peaceful, and reverent.
It also meant I could stop and examine all the details, including the marble inlay work including the precious stones embedded, the marble lattice screen inside, the calligraphy... I would imagine you could visit countless times, and still see new things with each visit. There is so much exquisite detail, it's mind-blowing!
Looking back to the Taj, the bright sun again created a different hue from the white marble - brilliant white. Again, stunning!
Just as I had completed the circuit of the visit, and started heading back towards the gate and the entrance/exit, I could see the hoards of tours groups start to arrive at that first point of seeing the Taj. Perfect timing!
I definitely recommend the early morning visit, before most people are out and about, as you will get the Taj Mahal complex almost to yourself. I was back to our hotel in time for our breakfast buffet, totally buoyed by my special morning with the Taj.