It was almost 4 years ago when me and my friends visited India on one of those long weekends, back when I was still living in Dubai. “To see the Taj Mahal” had always been a dream of ours. But in spite of its proximity to Dubai, the idea of going there was not very inviting. I must admit, I was naive and had several non-sense reasons that kept me from going there. In spite of originally coming from a 3rd world country (I am from the Philippines), India is culturally a lot more vibrant and at the same time, intimidating.
Fortunately, me and my friends had decided to just take the plunge (what was 3 days anyway?) and just go there. Besides, isn’t travelling a way to allow ourselves to be open-minded while opening our hearts to what the world has to offer?
Thankfully, we managed to get ourselves there and allowed ourselves to explore with a guide. Looking at the Taj Mahal is not enough. To actually hear its story is best in order to appreciate it fully.
I initially thought of rewriting everything, but instead, I opted to just clean it up a bit. Let me share with you a story that I originally posted in my other site last March 2012.
The walk towards one of the gates of the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal was made by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his 3rd, yet favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its perfectly proportioned architecture, design, concept, and symmetry really amazed me. The love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal made me adore the Taj Mahal even more.
A peek of the Taj Mahal, as seen from one of the gates.
It was love at first sight, when Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal first saw each other. They were just teenagers, around 14 (Mumtaz Mahal) and 15 (Shah Jahan) years old. Mumtaz Mahal is a Persian teenager that Shah Jahan saw among a lot of girls in a ladies market (that could only be seen by ladies, and of course, Royals) in the Agra Fort square. However, they were too young to get married.
5 years and 2 marriages (of Shah Jahan) later, Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan finally got married.
Mumtaz Mahal stood by Shah Jahan’s side at all times. She went with him wherever he goes, whenever he had a battle during battle, even during a war. It was during Mumtaz Mahal’s 14 birth labor, while being with Shah Jahan during a war, when she had a premonition that she would die. She told Shah Jahan to promise her that he would not remarry again after her death.
He honored this promise.
Shah Jahan eventually started to build the Taj Mahal as a final resting place for his dearly beloved Mumtaz Mahal. It took around 20,000 workers and 22 years to complete the Taj.
The design all over the Taj Mahal is very intricate. Marble carvings, semi-precious stones inlay, symmetric minarets, mosque and gates, Qu’ran scriptures, a big, beautiful garden that portrays what was perceived as Mumtaz Mahal’s heaven. Everything was created perfectly.
Marble carvings at the facade of the Taj Mahal
One of the many intricate designs in the marble walls of the Taj Mahal, made of semi-precious stones which is hand-carved and inlaid in the marble.
Looking at the design of the plants and flowers that run along the marble of the Taj Mahal, perhaps you would first think that those were just paintings on the wall because of its flawless appearance and smoot and feel upon touching it. We then realized that those were semi-precious stones inlay on the marble when our guide told us.
Marble carvings at the facade
Scriptures from the Qu’ran
The mosque at the western side of the Taj Mahal
One of the four minarets that surrounds the Mausoleum, having the Yamuna river as a background.
The jawab located at the eastern side of the Taj Mahal (this was created to counterbalance the mosque on the other side).
The Yamuna River located at the back of the Taj Mahal. On the other side of the river is the Agra Fort where the Mughal family used to live and where Shah Jahan, too, was imprisoned. From where he was at, he could view the Taj Mahal where Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb lays.
When the sun strikes that Taj Mahal, some of the semi-precious stones even sparkle. The white one (I think it’s a coral). The red stones light too when the light hits it (I think it’s called the Carnelian).
The garden built around the Taj Mahal. It was perceived to be the heaven of Mumtaz Mahal.
The jawab, a building that was created to maintain the symmetry of the surroundings of the Taj Mahal. This is a replica of the mosque located at the opposite side of the mausoleum.
An optical trick of the Taj Mahal as viewed from the jawab. Notice on the left that the Taj Mahal looks a lot bigger when you step farther away as compared to the one on the right that looks so much smaller when you step closer to it.
A walk along the path at Mumtaz Mahal’s heaven before leaving this beautiful site.
Among the structures, only Shah Jahan’s tomb caused the asymmetry of the Taj Mahal. Placing his own tomb had never part of his plan when he built the mausoleum. He made it solely for his wife, so, he placed Mumtaz Mahal in the middle of the building. When he died, his son decided to place his tomb beside his Mumtaz Mahal, causing the perfect asymmetry that there is when it comes to being with the one you love.
I am a big fan of love stories, and this is just one of the most romantic love stories that I’ve heard. Even after death.
*From what I know, the reason why some inlays have missing semi-precious stone was because at some point, these were stolen. Also, during the colonization of the British, a part of it was looted so that they could bring it home. However, it was found that the foundation of the Taj Mahal isn’t really marble, but brick stones. After the colonization, the British also tried to restore the Taj Mahal.