‘ ‘ To arrive, to see and to gape at it in complete awe’ is all I can say about my epic visit to the mughal masterpiece. And, as I head back with heavy heart towards Delhi, I still have the cherishing memories of witnessing one of the seven wonders of the world. The aura, the splendor, the subtleness of artwork, the enthralling love story behind its construction left me spell bound. I must say that the mausoleum is much more beautiful as it seems on postcards and television. It’s one of the world’s iconic travel image that leaves you speechless as you stand before it and see the Indian heritage come alive.
If this question flashes in your mind – whether to visit Taj or not ? Think of Egypt without pyramids. Some people have a false notion that Taj is a palace but it is a mausoleum, built by the mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. ArjumandBanu begum was christened by Shah Jahan as Mumtazmahalmeaning “ Jewel of the palace”. Taj mahal is referred to as the greatest monument of love ever built. It is an incredible architectural feat completed in 1653 and has new been designated as “UNESCO world heritage site”.
The tombs of the emperor and his wife are in an underground crypt but replica tombs can be visited inside. The team of 20,000 labourers , craftsman and artisans was employed and is very much visible in the subtleties. 1000 elephants were used to transport all the heavy stones, gems and building material .
Using geometry and symmetry, each side of Taj Mahal was designed to be identical meaning ‘no matter what direction you approach it you are always greeted by the same beautiful image’. Most intriguing is its changing colour as per the reflection of the sky on the white marble, the Taj Mahal can appear to be different at different times of a day ------ pink in the morning , white during bright sunny day and milky on a moonlit night. It is also believed that emperor planned to have a second mausoleum in black marble, to be constructed on the opposite side of the river. Perhaps construction was put on hold after the emperor came into war with his sons.
In order to protect the Taj Mahal from the potential damage of an earthquake, its four minarets were built at a slight slant away from the mausoleum (if they ever collapse, they would fall away from the structure causing little damage to the main structure). Another remarkable thing to experience in Agra is SanskritikNatyashala’s -------Mohabbat – the Taj”. It depicts the true and immortal love of Shah Jahan for his beloved, the emaculate hardship of artisans for 22 years. The entire show enthralls you to the core of your heart. The last chapter of the show leaves you speechless as the structure of the Taj comes alive in front of your eyes. Truly captivating and it’s the icing on the cake.
AGRA FORT :
Another finest architectural piece in Agra is a mughal fort – massive red sandstone structure called Agra Fort. It is located on the banks of river Yamuna built by Akbar – the great, in 1565. Primarily built as a military structure but Shah Jahan transformed it into a palace and later it became his gilded prison for 8 years after his son Aurangzeb rose to power in 1658.
While walking along the eastern edge of the fort we can spot Musamman Burg and Khas Mahal. It’s a beautiful white – marble octagonal tower . It is the place where Shah Jahan was imprisoned till his death in 1666, and from here he would gaze at Taj (Tomb of his beloved wife) and weep inconsolably. When he died, Shah Jahan’s body was taken from here by boat to the Taj.
ITMAUD – UD – DAULAH :
Appears as a dwarf in front of the magnanimous– The Taj Mahal, but certainly worth visiting as it is believed to be a precursor of the Taj Mahal, also known as the ‘Baby Taj’. Remarkable inlay work and carvings. Richly decorated with mosaics and semi – precious stones inlaid in white marble. The theme of wine flask with snakes as handles seems to be recurring throughout the walls of the chamber.
According to historians, the tomb of Etmad – ud – Daulah was built by Nur Jahan the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirza Ghiyas – ud – din. who died in 1622. The large magnificent garden with water ways and walk ways add to the charm of this monument.
Usually not found in the itinerary of every back packer. The tomb of Akbar in Sikadara remains forgotten in the shadow of the The Taj Mahal , It is definitely a must visit to pay our homage to such a great patron of art – Akbar the great. I decided to visit this place and was dumb -founded to see the tomb of such a great emperor rest peacefully in the quietness of the place. Not so grand, not boasting of heavy expenditure yet a splendid gem in the Mughal architecture. Truly said, that noble people don’t need any hype – it’s their actions that speak and never fade away………”