The Taj Mahal

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Seriously, what do I say about the Taj Mahal. I don’t know if there are even words in the English Dictionary that can properly describe standing in front of the Taj Mahal as the sun rises. It is beyond words.
It has been coined as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity,” “the embodiment of all things pure” and finally, as having made “the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes”. Standing there, dumbfounded and awestruck in the morning light, it was all those things and more…
We woke up at the crack of dawn, met up with our guide Dave and walked the short distance to the Southern entrance. Even the gate was impressive, with its massive arched doorway, beautifully scrawled Arabic inscriptions and sparkling golden domes.
“11 small domes on this side and 11 more behind those” explained Dave, “That’s 22 domes for the 22 years it took 20 000 workers to build the Taj Mahal”
Oh my Ganesh! That’s ridiculous.
As we passed under the archway and into the Taj Mahal’s beautifully kept garden area, Kelsi and I literally gasped.
“Look!” Kelsi grabbed my arm and pointed.
The Taj Mahal stood there, glistening white in the misty morning. It was spectacular. It didn’t look real. It looked like someone had painted this elaborate backdrop and just hung it in the sky. I couldn’t stop staring at it. For the next hour, I honestly couldn’t take my eyes off it. Hands down, the most beautiful man made structure I have ever seen.
The Taj Mahal also has one of the most beautiful love stories attached to it. The Emperor Shah Jahan had it built for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died giving birth to their 14th child. She was the only wife to bear him any heirs and he loved her with his entire body and soul. Upon her death he vowed to build her a mausoleum unprecedented in elegance, something that would reflect and capture the beauty of the whole world within its walls…and I believe he did.
The Taj Mahal, it’s grounds and the two surrounding buildings are entirely symmetrical. The mausoleum itself is symmetrical in four quadrants, so each of the four sides look identical. The only small details that are different are A. The building to the West is a mosque, with an altar facing towards Mecca, whereas the building to the East, although identical in shape, lacks the Mecca-facing altar. And B. When Shah Jahan died, his son had his body placed in a casket next to his beloved wife’s. His casket had to be placed to the side and so is not part of the symmetry.
Other than that, every inlaid stone, every tile, every detail in carving and structure is absolutely identical on all sides. No wonder it took so long to build!
The thing that amazed me the most, was how white the building is. The perfectly, shell-white marble that was used looks heavenly. It is an earthly shangri-la. As the sun rises, the Taj Mahal glows and the tiny, inlaid stonework sparkles in the changing light. The whole building is imposing and powerful and yet it looks so delicate, as if it could shatter at the slightest touch. And I just couldn’t stop staring…
We walked around the mausoleum for about an hour and a half. I could have stayed there all day, gaping in awe. To be honest, I missed most of the facts that Dave rambled on about. To me, it didn’t matter how tall or wide the building was. I just wanted to sit there and take it all in.
I do, however, remember the totally unimportant, but more gruesome facts of the day. The Taj Mahal has four, tall, surrounding pillars at each of its four corners. Years ago, it was possible to climb the steps to the top to get a different perspective of the grounds. Sites like this, with romantic draws, unfortunately have a downside. Within 2 months, 7 different people decided to climb the towers and throw themselves from the windows in a romanticized act of suicide. After the seventh death, they closed the viewing towers to the public…
When all was said and done, we were dragged back out to the south gate to head home. The magnificence of the morning forever burned into my memory. There are few things in life that can match the awe-inspiring feeling of standing in front of the Taj Mahal at sunrise. It is a monument built out of love and heartbreak, and a structure that is almost unequivocally considered the most beautiful building on Earth…

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2 thoughts on “The Taj Mahal

  1. I lost my breath and immediately choked up when I saw it. It was so beautiful I could have cried. People tried to tell me it was overrated and not worth it, but they were wrong.

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