Agra: With a cool breeze blowing and the majestic Taj Mahal washed in the full moon light, it was a sight to behold for the 350-odd people, including Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who visited the 17th century mausoleum in Agra on Sharad Purnima.
On Sharad Purnima, when the full moon is at its brightest, around 400 people are permitted to enter the Taj Mahal precincts. Visitors are also allowed entry to see the Taj Mahal at night two days before and after the full moon.
On Wednesday, around 350 tourists visited the Taj, which remains open till midnight.
"The full moon was there at its brightest... But the moon looked smaller and not so bright," said tourist guide Ved Gautam.
"That was because the moon was farthest from the earth on Wednesday," explained star gazer Pravan Sharma.
Dressed in a white and black suit with a red dupatta, Deepika was accompanied by her father Prakash Padukone and three others.
"Luckily the clouds weren`t around to play hide and seek as has happened in the past years. For the last couple of days, it had been fairly hot. But on Wednesday night, it was fairly pleasant and refreshing. Only if we had had a few showers, the Taj would have looked cleaner and less dusty," Vishal said.
Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society president Surendra Sharma said: "Normally after the rains, the Taj looks sparkling white and when the moon rays fall on the white surface, people are thrilled to see the rare spectacle."
"Before 1985, there were no restrictions and almost the whole city used to turn up at the Taj on Sharad Purnima for the `Chamki Mela`. Each marble piece sparkled when the moon rays struck its surface at a certain angle -- and people would burst into joyous ecstasy and shout `chamki`," he added.
A large number of people had gathered at the Mehtab Bagh, on the opposite bank of Yamuna, to see the Taj by night for free. "Many tourists had crowded terraces and roof-top restaurants in the Taj Ganj area," said Sandip Arora, a hotelier in Taj Ganj.