Taj Mahal, India. Part I • 360° Aerial Panoramas
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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
"the wonder and magnificent photography in dimensional view, proving the excellency,
i think scientific technologies only can save this like wonder of the world. woh.
srimanivannan venkatakrishnan, India
"The TAJ MAHAL "Eternal Love; The amazing Taj! INCREDIBLE INDIA"
NOOR MOHAMED, Bahrain
"" Simply Superb ""
Prof. Geetha Sasikumar, India
"wow greatest architecture of the world
rajinder walia, India
"It's a great experience to view this 3D."
Dhiman Bhattacharjee, India
"The perseverance of your team is amazing! What dedication and passion! And the results: Fantastic! I feel as if I have already visited even though I have not! May God bless you in all your ventures, give you wisdom, discernment and protect you."
Prabha Nama, Singapore
"It was worth all your troubles...Thank you for making it possible for us to see the world from the comforts of our homes."
Heba Hamad, Egypt
"I have visited the Taj at least 30 times. But your work? I just do not have words to express. You definitely have done a big service for the people all around the world. Thank you."
Ahmad Ansari, USA
Varvara, AirPano: It's really pleasure to hear that. Thank you too.
"Beautiful PHOTOGRAPHY. I will see this again and again. TAJMAHAL is my LOVE. Please continue this great work."
Maherunissa Mawani, Canada
"Wonderful pictures, Thank you."
SrinivasReddy Ravula, USA
"WE WENT IN 2006 SEEN TAJ MAHAL THIS IS EXLENT PANORAMA VIEW REAL GOOD KEEP SENDING THANKS"
RATILAL SHAH, Kenya
"Excellent presentation.I look forward to more of such presentations wrt Indian wonders"
Avinash Sharma, India
Elaine Lusty, United Kingdom
"O ! What a tour, unblievable. I have visited The Taj and thoght it was a dream come true but your Panoramic views are out of this world. I can watch it for hours. Thanks for this splended work.
Please can you inform if this can be recorded on a DVD to watch it on a TV screen ? If so, How ?
I look forward to hear from you."
Rasheed Noor, United Kingdom
Varvara, AirPano: Thanks a lot for a high estimation of our labour. Rasheed, our panoramas can't be saved or downloaded. Only online viewing is available. You can use print screens or iFrame code for non-commercial purposes according to our citation rules: http://www.airpano.com/citations.php?set_language=2
"The Splendid Work of Art has been shown Splendidly by the Splendid People. Great. Keep it up and Thanks."
Shehzad Khan, Kuwait
"Simply amazing. Magnificent photography
peace and nice!"
bella jiang, China
"I am absolutely stunned by this.I have no words to describe the beauty of this piece of art for real on earth.Sitting on my desktop i actuallt that i was physically there.It is such a mind soothing creation.This is the best e mail someone has ever sent me .I only hope that God/Allah will ever listen to my prayers.I want to feel the air, the environment etc of the Taj Mahal."
Varvara, AirPano: Thank you for your message left here, on our site.
"I have visited Taj Mahal. This work is fantastic. The panaromic view from every angle. Thank you."
Pearl Karalliadde, Sri Lanka
"Really woderful and though I saw two times but not seen like this what is shown in 3D."
Subbarayudu Gajula, United Arab Emirates
Rajesh Rajendran, India
"Very exciting show. It should be put on to the national channel for broad casting. The background
music theme is also so perfect."
Arun K Dhamija, India
"Amazing ! salute 4 ur team ."
noushad khan, Saudi Arabia
"Request you to do everything possible to get your work shown in very school in the world! The educational value of your work is awesome! We, Indian Americans, should be honoring you folks for standing up to the Indian officials, yes, they must carry out their assigned duty, but being obstructive unnecessarily,is inexcusable. Regards!"
Govindan Gopinathan, USA
"There is no rating after 5! Superb! Lovely ! Soulfull ! Love your passion and you unconditionally ! Every photo is Great!
You are the Hero! You are the soul ! You are the kaoss - infinity ! You are pure ! You melted away all of ME!
Thanks to all who gave u permission to shoot planet and of course you and your team with cameras lenses tripod helicopters and all unsung participants ! THANKS !
I will write few lines from Famous Poem of Galib in Hindi.
CHANDD TASSVEERAIN BOOTTAN, CHANDD HASEENON KE KHATTOOTT !
BAAD MERNE KE MERAY , GHARR SE YEH SAAMMAAN NIKLA !!
Means :- Few pictures, sculptures , Few letters from beautifully Girls!
After my death, that's all recovered from my House!!
Gurinder Bhuller, USA
"aerial view of the seven wonder is beautiful but the
bi-ground music seams to be irrelevant."
Syed Ali, India
"Fascinating. What can one achieve - no limits. Kudos & keep up the great job."
Anil Khanna, India
"WOW!!! breathtaking aerial view. Love to visit this amazing TAJ MAHAL once in my lifetime!!!"
Shamseeda HAQ-ALI, Canada
"It is the Best of the Bests I have ever seen in my life.Thank you guys who made this for all."
Shaikh Omer Ahmed
"Many many thanks for the great job . I wish our Government tourism department does work on these lines."
Thakur Singh Datta, India
"Absolutely amazing, thank you !!"
William Rikh, Philippines
"My dream to visit Taj Mahal. Nice to see these amazing pictures here. Thanks for this web designer."
Mohamed Iqbal, India
"Word is not enough to express gratitude to the team for untiring effort. Congratulations to you all and may
Allah bless you and energize you for more of such works in the future. It reminds me and my memory is back on track when I visited Taj with my late wife in 1974 on invitation by the Tea Board of India. This excellent photography refreshes my hidden memory and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and pray for your success in the future works. GOD BLESS.
Shahim khalil. Broadbeach.Aust"
"Let me thank your website which is the most amazing site I have ever seen in my life. Its like you can sit back on your chair and see the world. You guys are doing best work. Keep it up and many many thanks. I am going to share this site to each and every of my friends and relatives. Thanks again."
ajay kothawade, India
"Spell Bound and Speechless work you people have done.I ,being a Govt.approved German speaking Guide and Escort forwarding your spectacular Weblinks to my more than 100 Guests in Germany.kindly keep on sending your new Projects and New Arrivals.
If need any assistance,let me know.
thanks once again.wish you and your whole Team every Success and Good health.
Ashutosh kukreti, India
"Woderful photograph,Like to visit once again
Madhukar Pisolkar, India
"You guys brought out the Love of Taj Mahal."
I B, India
"Amazing,May God Bless you and your group for their earnest endeavor made a great success."
Provash Ghosh, USA
"I have not been lucky enough to see this in person yet,but maybe someday...this great presentation is absolutely wonderful!!!"
Martha Hall, USA
"Excellent photography and a what a piece of work ...I have read ( THE TRUTH OF THE TAJ MAHAL )on the internet and there is compelling evidence that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu Palace..Please anyone shed some light on this subject...."
Prakash Anand, Canada
"Breat Work AirPana Team! Shah Jahan did it for his beloved wife, and Your Team Did this for the rest of the World."
Ajay Kumar, India
"Fabulous.Mindblowing photographs.It is an experience for all who has visited this place."
PRAVIN P SWADIA SWADIA, India
"Thank you, I have seen Taj Mahal in pictures but this has been a great experience . Thanks once again"
"As an Indian I greatly appreciate the fabulous job you have done.For many who had not seen the "Tear drop in Marble"it will be a great experience."
Premnath.T Murkoth, India
"AS Indian I greatly appreciate the fabulous job you had done. For many who has not see now can share the great "Tear Drop".Congratulations and big thanks"
Premnath.T. Murkoth, India
"Very nice and can not belive. I visted four times Taj but could not see much as I saw from View.
Thanks and this is nice effort. Really hardwork done by your team depiste all odds."
Ganesh Kumar Nigam, India
"I praise the whole team of airpano.com with all my heart for this most exquisite presentation of our Taj Mahal. It should run continuously in all parts of India to remind us of this supreme gift from the Creator of the Universe and that we must do everything to deserve it. What a beautiful country we have been given."
Yamuna N S, India
"loved seeing reading and hearing....one of my fav bhajans,"
PAMPA GUHA MENON, India
"Thank You for making it so beautifully!! Words cant express the Taj Mahal's beauty! :)"
Christy John, India
"Thank you for allowing the watchers to see the unseen Taj Mahal '' The House of A Crown '' Blessed is the crowned whose house still attracts the visitors to build the similar one in the art of love."
Gulamali Dhalla, Sweden
"EXCELLENT WORK,EVEN THE CREATERS MUST HAVE NOT DREAM HOW BEAUTIFUL CREATION THEY HAVE MADE.THANKS FOR ALL THE PAIN YOU HAVE TAKEN TO SHOW SYMBOL OF "LOVE TO THE WORLD""
JYOTI MODI, USA