“Let the splendor of diamond, pearl, and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow.
Only let this one tear-drop, this Tajmahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever .”
More than three centuries ago, a muslim emperor built an ivory-white monument in the memory of his Persian wife on Indian soil & lived forever in the hearts of future generations for he gave the world the wonder of the wonders – the magnificent Taj Mahal!
Prince Khurram aka Shah Jahan was married to Arjumand Banu Begum. Shah Jahan loved Arjumand dearly & bestowed upon her the title of Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the jewel of the palace. It took almost 22 years (from 1632 to 1653) to build the Taj Mahal complex which is a sum total of five components:
- Darwaza (the main gateway)
Naqqar Khan (rest house)
Rauza (main mousoleum – the Taj itself)
Glimpses of early morning Taj:
On a Sunday morning, we began at 8:30 am & entered the complex from the Eastern gate. After buying the tickets & shoe covers, we took the bus and reached the security gates where they check your luggage, validate your tickets and grant you an entry inside.
Note: You see many foreign nationals in the queue in this area. Do not shove or push them. They are our guests and India believes in ‘Athithi Devo bhava’ (The guest is equivalent to God). If you may, let them walk ahead of you. Help them. Guide them. Be honest with them.
Do not stare at them, please. They are also human beings. They don’t like piercing stares and judgemental eyes. Behave, please!
It was a pleasant morning of December. We all were wearing caps, mufflers, jackets & socks. The air was balmy and crispy, but just the right amount. It was the perfect weather. We entered the courtyard from the security gates and started walking towards the main gateway. On either side, there were symmetrical cloisters in red sandstone building up the climax like the chapters of a thriller novel.
After a few steps, the curiosity transforms into restlessness and now all you want is to witness the marble wonder. From the courtyard, you can catch half glimpses of the Taj like it’s teasing you, like you have to spend some time walking and waiting in the queue before you witness how gorgeous our Taj is.
After five minutes, you reach the main gateway of the Taj. The gateway stands like a loyal servant of the royal Taj & is a shadow of the monument – symmetrical & gorgeous. The gateway bears Arabic calligraphy of select verses from the holy Quran.
The Taj is a Muslim monument made on Indian soil. While the gates bear calligraphy of Quran verses, the finial on the top of the onion dome of the Taj is in a lotus shape, a symbol taken from the Hindu religion. Here in the Taj complex, religion is indistinguishable. Because ‘humanity’ is superior than any religion.
With a childlike innocence, the main gateway lets you steal glimpses of the majestic Taj even before you enter the main complex.
And as soon as you enter through the gateway, you get to have an eyeful of the most beautiful monument of the world. The ticket is affordable. So, you see all kinds of people roaming around the inner complex.
Some would eye the benches to take photographs while some would bomb others’ photos. No matter whenever you go and visit the Taj, you would always find a bunch of school kids running and shouting around like they have finally got the freedom they wished for. The couples would find a silent spot near the gardens and would look at the Taj while holding hands like their love has been officiated after a visit to the romantic Taj.
After the well kept emerald green gardens, lies the most beautiful white Taj under the azure sky & that’s the best that these colors have ever produced together.
On the western side of the Taj, exists a mosque and on the opposite side lies a rest house, also called ‘Jawaab’ (answer). The latter was constructed to keep the symmetry of the Taj intact. The mosque and the Jawaab are mirror images of each other. I still can’t say which is what?!
You must visit the Taj once in your life & you will always cherish the experience. Never in your life will you see a monument emanating so many emotions, in so many shades.
O King, you are no more.
Your empire has vanished like a dream,
your throne lies shattered…
your minstrels sing no more,
your musicians no longer mingle their strains
with the murmuring Jamuna…Despite all this,
the courier of your love, untarnished by time, unwearied, unmoved
by the rise and fall of empires, unconcerned with the
ebb and flow of life and death,
carries the ageless message of your love from age to age:
‘Never shall I forget you, beloved, never.’
– Rabindranath Tagore
If you can, plan your visit to the Taj on a full moon night. The bookings need to be done in advance.