Some people call it ‘a poem of love in marble’ and others have called it a tribute of sublime love in form of art and architecture. The Taj Mahal is one of the New Seven Wonders and is the symbol of eternal love.
It leads the visitor to a story of a handsome Prince, Shah Jehan a great warrior who explored and conquered may parts of India and his lovely wife, the beautiful Mumtaz Mahal niece of Empress Nur Jehan of the Mughal dynasty. Literature lauds the princess for her kindness and endearing qualities. Through 17 years of marriage and 14 children Mumtaz Mahal is said to have escorted her husband, the Emperor in all his battles. When she died during childbirth in 1631, she was at the battle front. Shah Jehan is said to have mourned her loss for two months.
The Emperor then acquired a plot of land in Agra, by the side of River Yamuna and embarked on an ambitious project of building a suitable monument for his beloved wife. The mausoleum was constructed entirely in white marble and set in a beautifully landscaped garden. It was named Taj Mahal. Like a pearl sitting on the green turf, it’s dome glistening under the sun. Little is known about the architects who were involved but both Persian and European (Italian, French) architectural influence is evident. Thousands of people would have been employed over the 20 years of its construction.
Shah Jehan did not wage wars there after but was engrossed in the building the Taj Mahal, the Agra fort where he lived and also the Red Fort where he created a new city and named it after himself. From the new city he is supposed to have traversed the River Yamuna to visit the Taj Mahal.
When the Taj Mahal was finished he laid the body of his wife inside and planned to build another tomb out of black marble for himself. His son Aurangzeb imprisoned him and stopped any further expense. Shah Jehan could see the Taj Mahal from the wing that he occupied in the Agra Fort and when he died, his son placed his body beside Mumtaz Mahal.
Visitors are greatly surprised by their eternal love. Prayers are held three times a day from the Red stone mosque. As light streams gently through the lattice arches the eulogy of a sublime love can almost be experienced.
The Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. For those who intend to visit Taj Mahal don’t plan it for a Friday. This I found out during my recent visit to Delhi, Taj Mahal is closed for visitors on Friday and the mosque is opened for public prayer. I found myself in a dilemma trying to attend a workshop on New Media Outreach conducted by CSE and making a trip to witness one of the greatest wonders of the world.
What can it be? Luckily the hotel manager arranged for me to leave early in the morning and be at the ticket counter at break of dawn, 30th Jan as I remember, freezing 4 degrees and in the thick of mist I visited the Taj Mahal. This makes a second story of passion – the love of art and architecture.
I was traveling with a Bangli colleague and his family and three of us were thrilled to take Taxi from Delhi to Agra (220 kms) and a electric tuk-tuk for the last 1.5 kms. (the other green mode of transport was a camel driven cart) We entered the famous World Heritage site just as the mist was clearing, setting the sky in a mystic golden hue – the Taj Mahal the wonder of it all. Let the pictures tell the rest of the story.