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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Tourists at rest, Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 2008
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Tourists at rest, Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 2008

Two to four million people visit the Taj Mahal each year, with more than 200,000 from overseas. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world. Strict security is enforced -- only water bottles, cameras, and cell phones may be carried in to the complex. Everything else must be checked at the gate. This pair of tourists somehow managed to break away from the surging crowds and find a peaceful alcove all for themselves. That feat alone is incongruous. But so is the scale variation here the Taj is a study in symmetry. It has four identical entrances, one on each side. This is one of them, and it soars over the pair of fatigued visitors.

Leica D-Lux 3
1/320s f/5.6 at 6.3mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis25-Jun-2008 18:40
Some wait a lifetime to see the Taj, Ceci. You were fortunate to see it at nineteen. Its sublime beauty and vast scale, along with its elegant and flawless decoration stirs our emotions -- we are awestruck, fascinated, saddened, and even a bit intimidated by its size and perfection, yet as you note, we may view it intimately as well. For the moment anyway, it can become our own. I am glad you felt that clash of emotion in this image.
Guest 25-Jun-2008 17:15
This is wonderful, giving such a sense of the vast scale of this marble building, while simultaneously hinting at the "sadness" of Shah Jahan, who built it in memory of his beloved wife. Since the Taj is mostly mobbed with tourists, this shot is unusual, and powerful. There's almost a private feeling here. It brings back the moment when I stood alone inside as a nineteen-year-old, stroking the semi-precious stone inlay on one of the tombs, marveling over the silken texture: craftsmen long ago knew how to merge thin layers of gleaming material and marble into one smooth surface.

Phil Douglis18-Jun-2008 17:31
So much of incongruity is based on isolation, Jenene. I had to walk around the entire building -- the equivalent of four city blocks -- to find this example of scale incongruity. By isolating this pair of tourists within the frame of the great entrance arch overhead, I not only offer incongruity in scale, but as you say, imply a communal relationship between the women, the monument, and all that it has come to represent.
JSWaters18-Jun-2008 05:43
The beauty of this building is undeniable. Finding a spot to rest unencumbered by the rest of the crowds had to make this moment special for these tourists. They are part of the symmetry - now and forever, because they stole a few precious moments to commune with the overwhelming Taj. Would love to do that.
Phil Douglis27-Apr-2008 06:55
The coloration of the Taj Mahal is very subtle in itself. That is part of its great charm and beauty. Thanks for pointing out the similarities here, Tim.
Tim May26-Apr-2008 20:45
Classic scale incongruity - but I also notice the subtle colorization of the pattern at the top and the garments the tourists wear.
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