Ever since I could remember, the Taj Mahal topped my bucket list of places to visit. I got the first glance at this beauty when flipping through Air India’s in-flight magazine at my well-traveled aunt’s home, in my teens. Since then it’s been a secret dream of mine to go see the Taj.
When I got married, hubby took me on our first date to the Taj hotel and promised to take me to see the real Taj one day:-) I was super thrilled when we finally decided to make the long-cherished trip for our 20th anniversary year.
I literally had goosebumps when I walked through the main gate, strolled through the lush green gardens, all the way to the front of the monument. It didn’t fail to disappoint me even one bit. It was a hot summer morning in August when we got there. We stepped on the hot marble tiles barefoot wearing a disposable shoe cover.
As I wandered around I realized it is not just a feast for the eyes but an engineering marvel too considering it was built in the 17th century. Being a symmetrical building, the incredible calculation that must have gone into the planning and construction was just amazing to me.
I soaked up everything from the stylized calligraphy of Persian poems and writings from the Quran inscribed on the walls, the jewel inlays within the mausoleum, the floral patterns and plant motifs, the reflective marble tiles, the marble lattice screen windows, the intricate marble carvings, the archways, the minarets, and the floor tilings.
The city’s pollution has taken a toll on the monument and cleaning was in progress in certain parts. Monkeys are constantly lurking around Taj foraging for food. We spend more than half a day wandering the garden and the surrounding red sandstone buildings. When it was time to leave, I wondered if I’ll ever see a more intricate and impressive structure ever again in my life. Our ride back was made more memorable having seen two monkeys riding with two men on a motorbike.
A few fun facts about the Taj Mahal
- It’s an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the banks of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra.
- It was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz who passed away during childbirth. Both Mumtaz and the Shah Jahan are buried inside.
- The Taj Mahal is one of the new seven wonders of the world. Since 1983 it has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- It is estimated that the construction project had 22,000 laborers and 1000 elephants working on the site. It took 20 years to finish the project.
- There was initially a plan to create an identical twin of the Taj opposite to the Yamuna river in black marble. The plan was abandoned because Shah Jahan’s son thought it was too extravagant.
- There are three entry gates – South, East, and West. The main gateway has profuse inlay work of white marble and precious stones etched into the red sandstone surface.
- At the far end of the complex are two grand red sandstone buildings that mirror each other, and face the two sides of the tomb. The western building is a mosque and the other one is thought to have been used as a guesthouse.
Have you visited the Taj Mahal? What was your experience?