The Monkeys at the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic and recognizable tourist destinations in India. Located in the city of Agra, it is also regarded as one of the best examples of Mughal architecture, which combines traditional elements from both Indian and Islamic styles. Unfortunately, when I visited one of the minarets was covered in scaffolding for restoration, but the scale of the structure is still stunning.
It is true that the inlaid marble work which graces the outside of the structure is impressive, however the detail of the inlay and carving work inside the mausoleum is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The one downside, however, is that similar to other famous yet confined spaces (such as the Sistine Chapel), there are so many people walking through that you can feel a bit like you’re on a conveyor belt and the ability to explore on your own pace is pretty limited.
While the main mausoleum is what comes to mind for most people who have never been, there is much more to explore and see in the 42 acre complex. There are two red mirroring sandstone buildings flanking the Taj Mahal on its East and West sides. The Western one is a Mosque and the other is an almost identical guest house (and they both make for excellent silhouette photos!). You can tell which is the Mosque by the 569 black marble outlines of prayer rugs on the floor.
The guest house has more basic stone floor, but both structures are flanked themselves by two smaller gazebo style domes. The day I visited, there were some mischievous monkeys vandalizing the floral arrangements decorating the wooden doors.
As we continue to work on building our online presence, we recently did a drawing for a credit to use towards travel if you guessed where the photo of these two monkeys was taken (and the response was great, so check back, we’ll probably be doing this again!). Well, this is where. In the gazebo on the right side of the Mehman Khana guesthouse in Agra, India.