An inspiration for poets, artists and lovers- the Taj Mahal had been on my bucket list since I was a child. I finally got to visit it when I was in my twenties even though it was just 150 miles from where I stayed. I was stumped when I first set my eyes on the Taj. The white marble beauty framed by the arched domes of the entrance left me speechless. I ended up spending more time that I had budgeted, for the inner courtyards and gardens were as inviting as the main Mausoleum.
Made of white marble, this symbol of eternal love stands majestically on the banks of the river Yamuna. The monument that took 20 years to build, is the final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal, the 3rd wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Janah. It is said that more than 20,000 people from India, Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire were brought in to build the entire complex. About 1000 elephants were used to transport materials to the construction site. Shah Jahan did not want anyone to replicate the Taj and it’s rumoured that he had the hands of the artisans cut off after the construction was completed. Toward the end of his life, Shah Jahan was usurped by his son, Aurangzeb and made prisoner. Shah Jahan spent his last days gazing at the Taj Mahal from the tiny window of his prison cell at the Agra Fort (another must see) which is situated opposite the Taj.
What really caught my attention was the intricate work on the walls of the Taj. From a distance it looked like a calligraphic painting but an up-close inspection revealed it to be inlay work intricately carved onto the marble! That’s when the enormity of the task, the artistic abilities of the workmen and the financial might of the Mughal empire rung home. My second delight factor was sitting along the parapet on the banks of the river. The dingy passenger boats, the cattle drinking water and gently drifting clouds transported me to a bygone era. I saw the sun go down and with every slanting ray the hues and beauty of the Taj changed too. I spent the day soaked in a cornucopia of inspiration, romance, mystique and sorrow and walked away with hundreds of photographs.
The following day, we visited Mehatab Bagh early in the morning for an unobstructed view of the entire monument. It was a cold and crisp winter morning and we could barely see beyond 50 feet. When the sun rose in the distant east, the fog lifted unveiling the Taj and there it stood glistening in sunlight standing tall symbolising eternal beauty!