The Taj Mahal in Black & White — and Corn?

You’ve undoubtedly seen images of the Taj Mahal many, many times. Still, nothing can quite compare you for your first real-life glimpse of this marvelous mausoleum.

With pure excitement that morning, I woke up with the roosters, determined to arrive before thousands of additional visitors joined me. It was my first visit to India.

After I passed through the Taj’s turnstile, I sat on a bench in front of the reflecting pool, simply watching how the light changed the marble’s color. From a shrimp-colored morning glow, to a bathed-in-sunlight look, it was magnificent.

I didn’t always have such a romantic — or let’s face it, authentic — perception of this great monument to love, though. In reality, I once confused the Taj Mahal with a monument to maize.

When I was eight years old, my parents and I, accompanied by our German friends, embarked on a trip to the Western United States. We stopped at Yellowstone Park and Mt. Rushmore. And eventually, we made it to Mitchell, South Dakota, the home of the Corn Palace.

Originally built in 1892 to showcase the fertile South Dakotan soil, the Corn Palace and its myriad corn-adorned murals still lives on today. With domes and pointed towers, its architecture is just slightly reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. At least in the eyes of an eight-year-old.

After touring the palace of a corn sort, I later saw a picture of India’s gem. I excitedly remarked to my mother, “Look, look. It’s the Corn Palace!”

Elements of that childhood blunder were with me that day in India, as I marveled at the Taj Mahal — especially as the sun turned the white marble into a golden hue reminiscent of the South Dakota palace devoted to corn. :)

Detail of the Taj Mahal.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and a co-founder of Eloquence. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta, as well as Heidelberg, Germany. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Though they are currently nomadic, they look forward to establishing a European home someday. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

35 thoughts on “The Taj Mahal in Black & White — and Corn?

  1. I was in awe when I opened your blog to the photographs and story of the Taj Mahal. What an incredible journey you and your husband are having Tricia. Memories of a life time. Virginia

    1. Virginia, I actually snapped these shots during my first trip to India in my pre-hubby days. :) He and I didn’t get a chance to explore the north during our most recent trip, but it’s a spot I hope to return to with him sometime soon!

  2. I agree that photos just don’t compare to seeing the Taj in person. It is a brilliant architectural manifestation of a husband’s love for his late wife. Hopefully it lives up to the Corn Palace.

    1. And so many interesting tales surround it too! Though some critics state that it’s a myth, it’s also intriguing to read that it was the husband’s wish to have his mausoleum (in black) later built across from the Taj. I think my book also mentioned that Shah Jahan was later imprisoned by his own son – in a spot that looked upon the magnificent structure he commissioned. Thanks for dropping by, Cabbie, and yes, now I want to see the Corn Palace again! :)

    1. Yulia, thank you! I cannot recall – did you make it to Agra on your recent trip? Gosh, how I miss Indian food. Yesterday we bought some colorful lentils and dressed them in a curry sauce, trying to replicate the yummy dhals.

      1. Hi Tricia! Yes, I did make it to Agra and Taj Mahal, but we were there during peak hours and had to fight for a nice viewing spot :) Your visit seems to be more serene! :) I miss Indian food too – tried to make some at home recently :D

  3. These photographs are particularly beautiful! When you have such a wonder in your own country, you often take it for granted, but now I see that I must visit it soon.

    1. Thank you, Ruth! Agreed about sometimes taking our own wonders for granted. I haven’t been out to truly explore the American west since my “Corn Palace” trip. :) I’m looking forward to seeing more of my home country’s wonders.

  4. I’ve been to the Corn Palace too!

    Great pics! Someday I’ll make an adventure to India, but first I’ve got to finish with China.

    1. Kevin, are you in China now? Ay pointers on must-see spots or regions? We’re hoping to make it there soon.

      Thanks for stopping by – I wasn’t sure many people had heard of the Corn Palace. :)

      1. Tricia, yep, I’m in China now, but only for another month. Of course there are the big places and things to see like Beijing with the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the nearby wall. One of my favorite places has been Yangshuo just outside of Guilin in Guangxi Province. In a few weeks I’ll be traversing all over the country before I head home with visits to Sichuan and Gansu. You can check out my blog to get ideas for places to visit. Best wishes with your traveling.

      2. Enjoy the rest of your time there, Kevinearl, and thanks for sharing your favorites with me. I will definitely refer to your blog for some place pointers. All the best!

  5. Taj Mahal is absolutely breathtaking! And these pictures, equally so! How much have you seen India?
    Your website is great! You seem such a beautiful person.
    Love and wishes from India.
    (Mind having look at my blog too!)

    1. Greetings, Shruti and thank you! I’ve seen a mixture of both north & south — the so called “Golden Triangle” (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur & Pushkar) and Mumbai, Munnar, Fort Kochi, and the Kerala backwaters… I tried taking a peek at your blog, alas, the link did not work. Perhaps you can send your most updated one.

    1. Hello Mark, my apologies for responding at such a snail’s pace – we’re on the road again, this time visiting family in North America.

      I’m happy you enjoyed the tale from my younger days. It’s fun seeing how our perspectives on the world change from childhood to adulthood! (My grade school diaries from Europe are another story – so much talk of food!)

      Hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

  6. Lovely pictures! I’ll be there in a few weeks time and looking forward to the adventure!! :)

    1. Peter, many thanks! Visiting the Taj is a magical experience. I remember my wake up before dawn, which allowed me to watch the monument to love change with the morning light.

      Safe & fun travels!

    1. AsiaDreaming, I’m glad that you have a contingency plan. :) It wasn’t long ago that we were in the Philippines awaiting our visas for India. It was well-worth the wait as we had quite a memorable month exploring the south of India. Where are you and your wife headed? Be sure to enjoy the fresh fruit from the street vendors in Bangkok, as it’s something you likely won’t be indulging in much in India. I’m salivating thinking of Indian dishes right now!

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