India: Taj Mahal—Monument to Love

 

In a faraway land called India, a great emperor named Shah Jahan adored his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. When she died giving birth to their 14th child, he built her the most magnificent tomb in the history of the world—the Taj Mahal.

Agra 597 “We’ll meet at the bus at 5:30am,” our India tour guide informed us the night before. “We want to be first in line.”

Ugh! Near the front of the line, we stood in the dark for what seemed like forever, waiting for the gates to open. Luckily we were squeezed between “stand in line” railings, so I had something to lean on in my groggy condition.

When we finally entered at sunrise, all sleepiness disappeared, and we were struck by the ethereal beauty of one of the world’s most beloved edifices. Consistently named one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the ivory-white marble tomb takes your breath away when you see it up close for the first time. Its name is Persian for “Crown of Palaces,” and so it is, reigning on a marble base, or plinth, at the far end of a narrow reflecting pool, and guarded by a minaret at each corner.

The tomb was commissioned in 1632 and finished in 1643 using materials from all over Asia (white marble from India, jade and crystal from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, sapphire from Sri Lanka), and it’s thought that more than 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The rest of the 42-acre complex—finished between five and ten years later—includes a mosque, guesthouse and formal gardens. Total cost in 2015 U.S. dollars—$827 million. The project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects. In 1983 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India.”

Clever subterfuge: To protect the building during WWII, the Indian government erected scaffolding around it in anticipation of air attacks by the Japanese Air Force. Scaffolding was again used during the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971 to mislead bomber pilots.

To this day, the Taj Mahal still stands as a symbol of love. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore poetically described it as “the tear drop on the cheek of time.” And so it was for Shah Jahan. When he died, he was laid to rest in a sarcophagus next to his beloved Mumtaz.

Categories: Architecture, Art, Asia, India, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “India: Taj Mahal—Monument to Love

  1. Brilliant shots! I’m Indian by race and I have never been to the Taj Mahal myself but I wish to visit one day🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Faristha. One of the best things about our trip to India was meeting so many warm and friendly people. I do hope you get to go to the Taj Mahal yourself some day. It’s so beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It really is quite remarkable. A little too “peopley” for me but I have found that is an issue where ever you go now a days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were there at sunrise so fewer people than later in the day, but you’re right—everywhere is full of people these days b/c more people than ever are traveling and want to see these amazing sights. I must say that India is the most “peopley” place I’ve ever been. Just walking down the street is overwhelming and exhausting if you’re not used to it. And that is just including the people who live there, not including tourists. I’ll be doing a post on that soon b/c for westerners, it’s hard to imagine living in such a crush of people.

      Like

  3. Thank you for the beautiful post of Taj Mahal. What a history and love story. Thank God, Taj Mahal stands strong after the wars.

    Liked by 1 person

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