Taj Mahal in Agra tells one of the most romantic love stories of our time. The structures, carvings and calligraphy reveal the story of a heart-broken emperor who built the complex for his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begum. He loved her at first sight. And when they got married, he bestowed her with the title of Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the “Jewel of the Palace”.
In 1631, when Mumtaz was giving birth to their 14th child, she endured severe complications and the emperor rushed to her side. When he realized she could not be saved, he promised never to remarry. Instead he built a peerless monument to immortalize their love.
After her death, the heartbroken emperor began the construction of Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved. It took 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants and 22 years to construct it. When he died in 1666, his body was placed in a tomb right next to hers.
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TAJ MAHAL – A UNESCO SITE
In 1983, the mausoleum became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been considered a living example of eternal love since its construction more than 400 years ago.
Apart from the love story, the Taj Mahal in India is most renowned for its perfect symmetry and the way it changes colors during the day. In the morning light, the color of the Taj is pinkish, in the evening it’s white and in the moonlight golden. Supposedly, the changing colors symbolize the many feelings this monument captures.
THE MARVELOUS MARBLE TOMB
The base of the Taj Mahal is the white marble tomb which stands on a square plinth, topped by a large dome. This is the place where the emperor and his wife lay to rest.
* No shoes are allowed on the platform. You can choose to leave them outside the mausoleum, but I would not recommend it as it’s almost a bulletproof way to get them stolen. Instead, you should use the shoe covers that you’re provided with at the entrance.
The mausoleum is really glorious! Its interior is rife with intricate carvings and calligraphy of Persian poetry, while the exterior features floral designs and abstract patterns. It is quite amazing to see.
SUNSET AT THE TAJ MAHAL
We ended the day watching the sunset from the other side of the Taj Mahal. The complex closes at 6pm, which makes it impossible to watch the sunset from inside. We did manage to get a good view from where we stood, though.
Even though the Taj Mahal receives millions of visitors each year, I still found the place peaceful and magical. In the midst of the crowd, the white walls, perfect synchronic structures of the palace and its detailed decorations told the story of a man who had loved and lost. Watching the love monument when the sun slowly set over the lake before it, is one of the most peaceful states of mind I’ve had. The Taj is truly extraordinary.
This is my last post from India (this time around). It has been a captivating journey visiting this magnificent country. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: India is the most incredible, fascinating and crazy place in the world, and I can’t imagine ever experiencing anything like it. If not sooner, I will definitely return for the Kumbh Mela festival in 2016.
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