The Taj Mahal is an Indo-Islamic mausoleum with unique aesthetic qualities.
It was built in the 17th century as a tomb for the favourite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The building in white marble shows perfect symmetry. Innovative also was its position at the end of the garden, giving perspective to the views of the monument, and the four free-standing minarets. Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, the walled complex further includes two mosques and an imposing gateway.
Community Perspective: “some sites are so iconic, there seems to be nothing more one can add”. Nan however “felt a sort of emptiness creeping up”.
Map of Taj MahalLoad map
When I visited India in January 2014 I figured a trip to the Taj Mahal was a must. I had seen so many pictures and I wanted to actually be there. So I booked a flight from Southern India (warm) to Jaipur (cold) and made my way east to Agra.
And there it was... The Taj... As seen before on all those pretty pictures. But after spending some time on the site, looking at the architecture, the gardens, the interior of the Taj, ... I felt a sort of emptiness creeping up. Being there didn't add anything to what I had already seen on pictures. I actually think it reduced the value of the site to me. I asked myself why, and I came up with a few reasons:
- Build for Show
The Taj looks great on post cards, but to me the details are lacking. The garden's aren't great, the surrounding buildings or the interiors neither. I have been to Cordoba and the Alhambra and those buildings are on a whole different artistic level.
This is a site labelled a monument of love to the emperor's dead wife. To me, though, this felt like a monument to the greatness and power of the builder, not his deceased wife. The site did not invoke any sense of mourning about a lost one in me. Contrast that with Humayun's Tomb in Delhi where I really felt like a lost one was gone.
- Purpose Continued
As you may also read his wife died giving birth to the emperor's child. It was their 14th child! Having that many children would even be dangerous in today's times, let alone 17th century India. A loving husband could have considered some form of birth control. Sorry, that I don't find that very romantic.
Agra was like the worst city I visited while in India. The river is basically toxic waste. The neighborhood run down... While this has little impact on the OUV, it doesn't improve the overall experience neither.
A little later a friend of mine also went. Before going he asked me about it and I told him about my reservations. I also told him that I didn't wanna be the reason why he never went, so he should go. So he went. And he agreed with me.
Calling this WHS a beauty is an understatement. I visited the Taj Mahal in December 2011 and spent 2-3 days exploring and taking in this wonder. The first morning rays of sunrise lifting the thick mist off the Taj Mahal is an unforgettable experience. The Taj appears before your eyes gradually almost as if it were floating in the air. A pair of Egyptian Vultures were soaring in the sky above the main white marble dome. The symmetry and architecture of the whole site is mind-bogging and it is so huge that it never seems to be overcrowded. Don't go there with an organised tour for a quick rush through the site. Take your time to admire one of the wonders of the world!
A truly stunning experience. Walking through the gate building and there it presents itself in all its splendour and glory: the Taj Mahal. Not too crowded (may 2010). As a part of a trip to northern India, the golden triangle, this was the summit.
I visited the Taj in 1987 but it doesn't really matter , does it? It's timeless. I was going to actually give the Taj a pass and skip it. After all, how many times has one seen the Taj in movies, images, brochures etc. Many times. But coincidentally, the train route i was taking from Calcutta to Bombay made a needed stop in Agra.
I arrived pre dawn and had read in the guide book that the best time to view the Taj was at sunrise, sunset, or under the stars and moon. So by chance I had arrived at an opportune time. I hired a boy who pedalled a rickshaw but he went the wrong way! yep. I couldn't believe it. Eventually we got there and i was the first one in! It helps to get there early! I managed to get a photo with noone in the foreground. I was pleased with that.
Part of the magic of seeing the Taj in person is the way the light of the sun and moon play off the marble. The mood of the Taj literally changes . It really is a remarkable experience. I also saw it in the early evening and the mood and sillouette of the Taj impressive. Best seen early or late to avoid the crowds.
Some sites Machu Pichu, The Pyramids, Petra are hard to review because they are so icconic, that there seems to be nothing more one can add.
The Taj Mahal is another such WHS, which like the afore mentioned places, really does take one's breath away; such is the power of it's radiant marble symetry.
However it does not function just upon a grandiose scale, up close the exquisite workmanship stuns, the gardens are seductive, and the ancillery buildings shield you from what by comparrison is the vulgar and mundane of the outside world.
I'm told the whole ensemble is supposed to be a relisation of heaven on earth. Did they succeed? Well if you can go and decide for yourself, it might just be the closest you get in this life to paradise.
At first light of dawn, when a cool breeze fills the air and the morning sun shines on the palace, Taj Mahal is at its height of beauty. Set against the azure skyline, it looks like a mirage in a desert - the greatest monument to love.
It was exactly like this when, on an early December morning, I made my first visit to the legendary monument. It is certainly also true that it is a very special view to see the early morning sun rays embrace this absolutely magnificent white marbled tomb.
The story has been told many times - of Shah Jahan's favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal,
who died at the age of 39 when delivering a child and the greif that then made the Shah immortalize their love by building the 'dream in marble' - 22 years in the making with the help of over 22.000 craftsmen.
History tells that when Shah Jahan started to plan for his OWN mausoleum to be built in black marble across the river Yamuna, his son had just about enough of his fathers spending and locked him up in the Agra Fort. And there he sat until the day he died, gazing at the distant tomb of his long-lost wife. Almost makes you want to shed a tear, right..?
Kipling said it was the 'Gateway through which all dreams must pass'.
Tagore said that is was 'A tear on the face of Eternity'.
Those descriptions sum this wonderful place up better than anything I could say. It's just a shame about the entry fees.
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