Thursday, 6 June 2013

Taj Mahal, Agra

After a six hour drive I arrived in Agra just in time to see the sun melting into a distant image of the Taj Mahal.

Eager to escape the tourist traps, I ate dinner at the first restaurant I saw and fled to a pre-booked hostel near the closest gate to the Taj. Wanting to see the first rays of sunlight on the Taj Mahal, I went to sleep early and woke before 5 AM to begin the walk.  I couldn’t have been more on time! I was one of the first ten people there and had a good amount of time to sit and watch the sky’s reflection paint the white marble in front of me. 

I was overly pleased to discover that the Taj Mahal is not overrated. I spent hours walking in and around, noticing new details each time my eyes rested upon it. In pictures I had seen I never knew of the semi-precious stone inlays, carvings and Arabic calligraphy. 

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had the mausoleum built for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died giving birth to their fourteenth child. Thousands of artisans and craftsmen were employed and it was completed in 1653, after 21 years of construction. People say the Taj Mahal is the representation of true love. 

Shah Jahan wrote: 

Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.

While the building emits a sense of purity and love, there is another story of heartbreak which overshadowed the experience for me. Not long after the Taj Mahal was completed, Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb, overthrew his father and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort. From there Shah Jahan could only look from afar to where his wife rested. Only when Shah Jahan died did his son return him to the Taj Mahal where he would rest with his wife.  

Once the sun’s heat overcame me, I made my way to Agra Fort and saw the Taj Mahal from the same distance Shah Jahan saw it for so many years. Reflecting on the love and heartbreak surrounding this beautiful World Heritage Site, I left Agra feeling emotionally overcome. As I drove back to Delhi I stared out the window at people, considering the great complexity and potential of our human relationships.

View from the Agra Fort

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you had lovely time visiting Agra and exploring Taj Mahal. One of the Seven Wonders of The World and a long standing symbol of love, Taj Mahal is a must-visit for its magnificence and pure beauty. Click here to know more about Taj Mahal.