Taj Mahal, India • 360° Aerial Panorama
Total Views: 4 027 687
In The New Seven Wonders Of The World list Taj Mahal, a mosque-mausoleum located in Indian city of Agra, takes a very important place.
In spite of its Muslim origin this white marble necropolis became an actual symbol of India. Serious security measures are taken to protect it. There is a special 500-meter security zone established around the complex. Cars are to be parked 2 kilometers away, and the rest of the way tourists have to travel by rickshas, carriages, or electromobiles, because it's believed that car exhaust fumes cause yellowing of the marble facing. There is even a barbed wire fence on the opposite shore of Jamuna River, which runs beside Taj Mahal. Security personnel totals hundreds of men.
In January 2012 Dima Moiseenko, our photographer, went to Agra to meet the Superintending Archaeologist in charge of Taj Mahal and asked him how to get a permit to photograph Taj Mahal from air. Security is so tight in Taj Mahal that one cannot even enter with a tripod. But that wasn't the only issue: Dima was asked to hand over his lighter and cigarettes.
The Archaeologist listened to the request of his guest from remote Russia and replied, "I'll allow you to shoot with a tripod, but you can forget about aerial photographs". Last time someone took pictures of Taj Mahal from air was 10 or 15 years ago. And as long as I've been here, no one else has been able to do that. A few years ago some foreigners tried to launch a radio-controlled helicopter from a boat on the river, but the police immediately arrested them. I strongly advice you against this trick."
We were curious who managed to take an aerial photograph of Taj Mahal. After searching the Internet we found out that it was Yan Artus Bertran, a famous Frenchman, who took pictures of Taj Mahal from a helicopter in 1997.
15 years have passed and no one else was able to get a permission to shoot the monument from air. Mr. Bertran had a full support of UNESCO and French government, so one can imagine the resources he had available for this project. Unfortunately, the only resource AirPano had was a group panoramic photography enthusiasts from Moscow.
And so we decided to visit the Embassy of India in Moscow. Dima went to the Embassy and made a presentation about AirPano project. He told them about our non-for-profit work focused on showing people the most interesting places of our planet from a bird's eye view.
They expressed an interest in our work and asked us to prepare all the necessary documents about the planned photo shoot. The paperwork took almost 2 months, we went back and forth, correcting documents and providing comments when necessary. Finally, when we were shooting in Cambodia, good news came from the Embassy: we were given the permission to shoot in March.
I will let Stas tell you the rest of the story.
Although we had a trip to Jordan planed in March, we canceled it and went to India. Dima Moiseyenko and I arrived to Agra, India, the home of Taj Mahal, in March 2012.
First of all we went to visit the Superintendant Archaeologist, with whom Dima met in January. Only this time we had the papers. At first, very unwillingly, the Superintendant Archaeologist allowed us to fly over Agra, except for Taj Mahal. But then, referring to a phone call from Dehli, he denied us entirely. He said that we had to go to the capital and gain a permit from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (yes, for a 100-meter height launch of a small manually controlled helicopter). As if to make us feel better, he allowed us to shoot inside Taj Mahal with a tripod.
To say that we were frustrated after that conversation is to say nothing. Our entire trip was falling apart right in front of our eyes, because Taj Mahal was our main goal.
We spent the following day knocking on every door we knew, from police to other local authorities, trying to get the permit. But all our efforts were in vain. After listening to our story, every single bureaucrat sent us back to the Superintendant Archaeologist.
As a last resort, Dima called the Embassy of India in Moscow and told them that despite of all the papers from Delhi, we were being denied to photograph Taj Mahal. They said they would look into it, but it could take a lot of time. And we had only 3 days left.
The same night we held "a council of war" in our hotel room. We declared that, using the papers from the Embassy as a backup, we would launch the helicopter from under the wall by the riverside.
The take-off should be done in the open, in the sight of the security guards, so that we wouldn't be shot as terrorists. It was clear that we had only one chance to shoot, and that they wouldn't allow us to do it again.
In the morning we packed our equipment and went to our photo shoot, preparing ourselves to spend some time in a local jail. However, we received a phone call on our way to Taj Mahal. It was an employee of the Embassy in Moscow. He said that we had to go to the Superintendant Archaeologist's office and get our photo permit. He managed to resolve all the issues for us. Still in doubt, we entered the office. The Superintendant Archaeologist didn't grace us with his presence; a small clerk handed us the paper.
And that was it! The permit to fly over Agra Fatehpur Sikri Fort and, more importantly, a permission to photograph Taj Mahal from air for 2 days straight!
To be honest, I didn't believe my own eyes at first, but the sight of Dima dancing in the street dust finally convinced me.
We photographed Taj Mahal twice in the morning and one time in the evening. That was one of the most challenging and thorough work we'd done so far. We had to carry our helicopter on the premises 3 times. And each time it was a nightmare. Every local security guard had to stop us and ask — with huge surprise in his eyes — how exactly did we manage to sneak in our gear. Routinely we would show him our papers, which he would study for 10 or 15 minutes, only to say that we couldn't shoot here.
But yes, we did it! We were the first ones in 15 years to fly over Taj Mahal and photograph it. We were the first to make a virtual aerial tour around Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. And now you can admire the beauty of the symbol of India in a way only birds could do before.
After this we shot in many other places in India, such as Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, Varanasi, Jaipur, and Delhi. Fortunately, we didn't have any difficulties there. On our last day in India we also received a permission to photograph at the territory of unique Akshardhama (New Delhi).We will publish these materials on AirPano.com as they go through post processing.
Taj Mahal was built by order of Shah Jahan, a Great Mughal emperor and the descendant of Tamerlan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In our cynical times it's hard to believe in feelings strong enough to withstand 17 years of marriage and 13 children. But it's a fact — all legends and stories of that time tell us one thing: when they first met, Shah Jahan was enchanted by his chosen one, so from that moment on he didn't pay attention to his other wives. When Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth of their fourteenth baby in 1631, Shah aborted his war campaign, returned home and dedicated the rest of his life to building the mausoleum.
Twenty thousand workers had been building the monument for more than twenty years. Beside local experts, foreign architects — Venetian and Frenchman — were invited to participate in the development. Combined efforts gave birth to five-dome building, which was 74 meters high on the platform with 4 minarets in the corners. The walls are faced with polished semitransparent marble, brought to the site from a 300 kilometers distance. It looks white in the bright daylight, pink during sunset, and silver in the moonlight. Furthermore, walls are decorated with turquoise, agate, malachite, carnelian and other gemstones delivered from many countries including Russia.
The grand building of Taj Mahal is surrounded by park. Water canals divide the park into square sections. The wide canal with fountains runs from the main gate. When the fountains are silent one can see a magic reflection of Taj Mahal in the water...
While the construction was in progress, Shah Jahan had an idea to create the same monument for himself on the opposite shore of Jamuna River that runs right behind the mausoleum. It would be made of black marble and connected with his wife's mausoleum by an openwork bridge. Unfortunately, this beautiful dream did not come true. In order to maintain a clear view of the most spectacular mausoleum in the world, it was prohibited to erect more than 4-storey buildings in 3 kilometers radius.
However, many years of grief and obsession with building the mausoleum prevented Shah Jahan from attending to his country's needs. As a result, he was overthrown by his own son (son of the woman to whom he dedicated the mausoleum) and spent the rest of his days in jail. The legend says that, as some cruel joke, his jail windows were facing Taj Mahal, the monument to his loved one whose untimely death led to his demise.
Taj Mahal is not just one of the most famous India landmarks. It is a rare monument, which needs to be seen and also to be felt. This is a story of love artistically preserved in stone, and it affects everyone who sees it.
You can also watch the short video from the above of Taj Mahal.
4 June 2012
"Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back down the road. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!"
Russ Halstead, New Zealand
"Hi to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this website, and your views are nice for new viewers."
Fletcher Wampler, Falkland Islands
"I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you post‚Ä¶"
Dino Davis, Mexico
"Valuable information. Lucky me I found your site accidentally, and I am surprised why this twist of fate didn't happened in advance! I bookmarked it."
Marguerite Redmon, Mongolia
"Thank you thank you thank you! So so beautiful. I wanted to visit Agra in June this year, but the tour doesn't operate in June! So sad. Will try to save up to go overseas again, just to see the Taj Mahal. You have helped ease my disappointment! Gail"
Gail White, Australia
"I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before."
Freeman Regan, Turks and Caicos Islands
"Wow, this paragraph is good, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to tell her."
Lazaro Royster, India
"Every weekend i used to pay a visit this web page, as i want enjoyment, since this this web site conations genuinely fastidious funny material too."
Israel Hoppe, Iran
"Great article. I will be experiencing a few of these issues as well.."
Santiago Greathouse, Yemen
"Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I'll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return."
Candice Castro, Antigua and Barbuda
"This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!"
Wesley Lovell, Mauritania
M.A. Khatri, India
"Pretty element of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I'll be subscribing to your augment and even I fulfillment you get admission to persistently quickly."
Thalia Hewitt, Cuba
"If you are going for most excellent contents like myself, just go to see this site all the time because it presents quality contents, thanks"
Demetria Foret, Bahamas
"My brother suggested I might like this website. He was totally right. This publish actually made my day. You can not believe just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!"
Brenna Gould, Latvia
"I was able to find good info from your content."
Tia Paquette, Christmas Island
"Congratulations ! Great work ! Taj Mahal is obviously one of the most beautiful place on Earth, a symbol of love and loyalty, with a huge artistic value. It took 22 years to build it at a time when in Europe cathedrals rising needed centuries.
Visiting Taj Mahal more than 15 years ago represents one of the greatest achievements of my life. Spasiba Stas, spasiba Dima !!!"
Stefan Paunescu, Romania
"Thanks for another informative blog. The place else may I get that type of information written in such a perfect approach? I have a project that I'm just now running on, and I have been on the glance out for such info."
Latanya Kimmel, Bouvet Island
"What's up, the whole thing is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that's really excellent, keep up writing."
Broderick Chapin, Yemen
"I am in fact grateful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic article at at this place."
Jorge Hutchens, Bouvet Island
"Thank you. You have done a great service to lovers of architecture. Thanks again."
Syed Ahmed, USA
"Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Taj Mahal. Regards"
Callum Murry, Sao Tome and Principe
"Hi, just wanted to tell you, I loved this article. It was funny. Keep on posting!"
Tarah Nava, Italy
"Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this blog."
Frank Harrison, Austria
"I M P R E S I O N A N T E !!!
DESEO AGRADECER Y RECONOCER LA EXCELENTE LABOR DE DIFUSION CULTURAL Y EL ALARDE DE TECNOLOGIA EN SOFTWARE QUE LO ACOMPA—A, DE VERDAD, GRACIAS POR COMPARTIR"
JOSE ROJAS, Mexico
"I have read so many content about the blogger lovers except this article is really a good piece of writing, keep it up."
Everett Tyree, Faroe Islands
"Hi there, its good article about media print, we all be aware of media is a fantastic source of information."
Lillie Daughtry, Armenia
"Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The New Seven Wonders Of The World. Regards"
Jacklyn Halverson, Papua New Guinea
"Hi there, I read your new stuff regularly. Your writing style is witty, keep it up!"
Faith Rinaldi, Croatia
"Taj Mahal = Extra Fine Fine"
ramin biabani, Iran
"Very good article. I'm going through many of these issues as well.."
Nelly Hutchens, Cook Islands
"Woah! I'm really digging the template/theme of this site. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's challenging to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and appearance. I must say that you've done a superb job with this. In addition, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Opera. Outstanding Blog!"
Quyen Gilliland, Oman
"Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly."
Nichole Grubbs, Saudi Arabia
"Hi, all the time i used to check blog posts here in the early hours in the daylight, because i love to learn more and more."
Gisele Bohn, Pitcairn
"Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thank you once again."
Van Paul, Georgia
"Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly loved surfing around your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!"
Winnie Poore, Antigua and Barbuda
Niki Brenner, Andorra
"What's up it's me, I am also visiting this website on a regular basis, this website is actually nice and the users are truly sharing fastidious thoughts."
Neva Malloy, Estonia
"I'm gone to tell my little brother, that he should also go to see this webpage on regular basis to take updated from latest news."
Carrol Harman, Kyrgyzstan
"It's hard to come by well-informed people in this particular subject, however, you sound like you know what you're talking about! Thanks"
Chante Unger, Japan
"If you wish for to obtain a great deal from this piece of writing then you have to apply such techniques to your won blog."
King Fabian, France
"I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too."
Frances Fortenberry, Mexico
"Wonderful, what a blog it is! This weblog presents valuable information to us, keep it up."
Dominga Andre, Slovenia
"I do trust all of the concepts you have offered for your post. They're really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for newbies. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post."
Brock Pitman, Belgium
"Wonderful article! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our site. Keep up the good writing."
Wendi Pickering, Micronesia
"… simplesmente magnifico. Sem palavras!!"
Roberto Carvalho, Brazil
"I have learn a few excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much attempt you put to make this sort of great informative site."
Jodi Macdonald, Lithuania
"Your means of telling the whole thing in this post is actually good, every one can effortlessly know it, Thanks a lot."
Matilda Polk, Central African Republic
"Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I'll certainly comeback."
Veronica Cole, Azerbaijan
"Superb, what a website it is! This web site provides valuable data to us, keep it up."
Branden Roth, Monaco