The Taj Mahal: Agra, India
“Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.” – Rabindra Nath Tagore
Tha Taj Mahal is a beautiful building. The height of Mughal architecture. But there are many beautiful buildings around the world. So what makes this one so special?
I waited in line with a feeling of suspense, hope and sadness. It was close to 6 in the morning, and I had queued up to get in and watch the sunrise. There are three different entrances to the Taj, and I escaped the long queue at the Western Gate and headed to the Southern Gate instead – where the queues were much much shorter.
US14 poorer, I walked through the entrance, and prepared to see the beauty of the Taj Mahal. Pass a small corridor and there it was, standing soft in the beauty of the morning haze.
It was hard to try and have that peaceful moment with it. There are a thousand clicks reverberating through the main hall. People jostling each other to get to the front of the podium and snapping a picture. You can try as much as you like, but inevitably there will be someone in the picture with you, whether you like it or not.
I walked down and towards the building. Along the garden are small benches. In the early morning rush you see a group waiting patiently to sit where Princess Diana sat, and to pose as she did. All even more energized by the presence of instant cameramen touts who nudge you into sitting and prepare to charge you a fee for that immediacy of a picture for you to frame.
I walked around the Taj and I can see what everyone is talking about, the beautiful architecture, the pristine white marble. I take off my shoes, and tuck it into my handbag, worried it would disappear in the pile of shoes in the corner. I walk around, and finally into the tomb, for that’s what it is, a tomb of the grandest kind.
The Taj Mahal was built upon the death of Queen Mumtaz Mahal by her husband – King Shah Jahan. So in love and devastated was he that upon her death he spent 22 years building this amazing testament to her. I do not know for sure if her body still is laid to rest there, but I could see even then, the small raised rectangle that had been inlaid with rubies, and precious stones.
Even sadder was when I left the Taj, and headed over to Agra Fort. Home of King Shah Jahan after he was deposed and arrested by one of his sons. Legend has it that he requested to stay in Musamman Burj, a tower with a view of the Taj Mahal so that he could always remember his wife.
I stood in this tower and imagine the King, now old, sitting quietly, staring into the corner, only to see the Taj Mahal greatly reduced in size, and disappearing in the fog and pollution of the city.