I arrived near the west gate of the complex before dawn on a chilly morning, dropped off by a tuk-tuk after a ride through scrappy narrow streets, dodging the rare passer-by and stray wandering dogs. Now I had to walk 200 metres or so down a dark laneway past closed restaurants and budget hotels to the gate.
There was a short queue waiting for the ticket office to open; so others had been told it was best to arrive early, before the dreaded tour groups arrived on day trips from Delhi. We waited in the cold night air under a slowly lightening sky set with stars, the Muslim call to prayer resounding nearby. It was, needless to say, atmospheric. And that was just the wait to buy tickets.
The Taj itself was marvellous; and, I was pleased to discover, just as beautiful close up as when seen from a distance across its ornamental ponds and gardens.
I won't write more here; rather, let me share some of my images of this stunning place, as the light subtly changed over a few hours in the early morning...
Disclosure time: On this trip I travelled to India courtesy of Thai Airways