An enduring love

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
White brilliance, Taj Mahal

Once upon a time there lived an emperor, Shah Jahan, who so loved his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that when she died he built a huge monument in her memory, as her final resting place. Evidence of their love endures today – the Taj Mahal.

She was his third wife and they were married for 18 years. He could not bear to be away from her that when he went into battle, he took her with. During the time they were married they had 14 children. She died giving birth to the 14th child. The Taj Mahal took 22 years to build and he planned to build another Taj, in black marble, across the Yamuna River directly opposite to the white Taj. He never managed to build it because he was deposed by his son and put under house arrest where he eventually died. His body was placed alongside his wife’s in the Taj Mahal.

When it became a World Heritage Site in 1983, the Indian authorities imposed a ban on any motorised traffic within a 1km radius of the Taj Mahal. Emissions are strictly controlled in a large area around the monument to prevent the yellowing of the white marble. There are now concerns for the monument’s structure because of the receding waters of the Yamuna river. The wooden foundations of the monument are under threat due to lack of water.

The Taj Mahal is all it’s promised, and more. Walking in through the shadowy gloom of the gate, the sheer white beauty  and perfect symmetry of the monument took my breath away! The white marble is encrusted with semi-precious stones. The colours don’t fade, just like this enduring love – so fitting. The structure is guarded by 4 minarets, one on each corner. They are angled slightly out so that if they collapse, they will do so away from the main structure, the tomb. The Taj Mahal is surrounded by large beautiful gardens.

Tips for when visiting the Taj Mahal:

  • Do make use of the photographers waiting outside – they take nice photos very cheaply. They will come inside with you, take the photos, print them, and you will get them when you exit. Payment is on delivery.
  • Do google or wikipedia any historical or other information – be your own guide.
  • To really experience it fully, spend a good many hours there.
  • Sit in the gardens and take in the Taj from all different angles.
  • No food is allowed into the grounds – bags are searched and food confiscated and discarded – even things like protein bars – they are very strict.
  • Cameras are not allowed in the tomb area, not even cell phone cameras – do respect this, because the longevity of this beautiful monument is dependent on everyone respecting the preservation rules in place.
If you are going from New Delhi to Agra, it is well worth it to take the train. It is a 2.5 hr train ride. We caught the 6am train and travelled through foggy countryside most of the way. It was such a dreamy experience, I would love to experience it again.
This is one place I will not tire of visiting. Architecturally, aesthetically, and off course, the love story that inspired it, has captured my imagination.

 

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