Think Taj Mahal, and to an average Indian, what comes to mind is the information one imbibed during the school about the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and that he had built it in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. One is also reminded of some’ facts’ that we read in our school history text books i.e. It took 17 years for the construction to complete ( though Taj website info claims that it took less than 10 years), and the misplaced myth that once the architect had completed the construction, his hands were chopped off by the emperor so that it could not be replicated again. However there is no historic documentation of this myth. In fact, there is reference which suggests the contrary.
For foreigner visitors, be they Westerners or from anywhere on the globe, first thing they wish to see when they land in India, is Taj Mahal. For them it is a marvel piece of architecture that symbolises India. A purchase of its mini replica made of alabaster, as a souvenir is mandatory.
However, for the locals, many are superstitious about keeping a replica of TajMahal at home. Some consider it a Mausoleum, while others believe it brings bad omen. Ironically the monument which is known as the most romantic symbol of love in the world, is perceived by the superstitious to have brought bad luck to both Shah Jahan who commissioned it and the architect who designed it.
Many neither superstitious nor romantic, associate it with ShahaJahan’s obsession with extravagant and lavish life style. It is said that the time Taj Mahal was being built ( 1632-1648), Americans were laying the foundation of a great Ivy League institution by the name of Harvard University ( 1636 estb). Hence obvious were the priorities between the two parts of the world.
The fact that the Mausoleum was built for love of Mumtaz Mahal, who died while delivering her 14th baby, at the age of 39, also compels many to question ‘what kind of love was that?’
To many indifferent to above issues, it remains as one of the Wonders of the World. It was in 2001 that New 7 Wonders of the World inititative was begun, and after nearly 100 million votes cast the world over, Taj Mahal was chosen as the top of the New 7 Wonders of the World. However, in 2007, after controversies, form various ends, UNESCO withdrew its support from the initiative.
My personal experience of TajMahal , visitng it as a grown up, was quite unexpected. Having visited a few times in childhood, I did not feel anything special. Hence while visiting again, as an adult, I had expected nothing different.
We entered the initial premises with surroundings made of sand stone.
“Why is there no marble here?” I wondered while standing in a queue.
There was a thorough pocket search at the entrance, where we had to even dispense away with any chewing gum in the pocket.
It was aound 2 PM, and the sky was overcast, with soft sunlight filtering through the clouds.
As we walked through the gates, there suddenly stood in front of us a mesmerizingly pearly white monument, as if being held on a giant palm instead of the raised platform. It looked like an imagination materialised, and an illusion made visible to the open eyes. And it indeed, appeared to exude the four letter word ‘love’, on whose foundations it was said to have been built.
Beside its merits architecturally, even to my ordinary eye, the first glimpse was hypnotising. The eyes stared for a while without a blink.
As we walked towards the raised platform, it began to rain and got really heavy. As we drew closer, the Taj got bigger, but hazier through the curtain of heavy rain, as if receding into an illusion, shying away from reality. The elusive hazy silhouette began to cast a spell even more.
The slippery rounded edges of the marble stairs up to the platform were a challenge to climb when wet.
In about half an hour, heavy down pour stopped, after having washed off the dust over the marble exterior. As the faint rays of sun reappeared, the washed marble began to glow like the glistening face of Mumtaz Mahal must have been, after coming out fresh from a bath. I instantly, in my wild imaginations, began to correlate the flawless beauty of the King’s beloved Queen , to this marble monument he built for her. He sure must have attempted to match his two loves together—the Taj with the Queen.
Rest of the experience within the Taj interiors were as if walking live through a dream.
Although the overcast sky prevented us from watching it in the full moon, that is usually is offered on four days in a lunar month. But from the experience in rain, am sure the experience in a moon light night must certainly be exponentially far more bewitching.
A friend recently messaged this interactive beautiful video of the Taj, and it instantly brought back the recollections of my own experience.It gives a kind of 3-D effect of the Taj, and helps those who have yet to witness it live, share a tiny fraction of my experience visually.
Please click below to see the interactive video: A MUST SEE >>