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A Symbol of Eternal Love: Taj Mahal
A symbol of eternal love, Taj is one of the most famous and beautiful buildings in the world. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built Taj in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child, Gauhara Begum, when Shah Jahan was on an expedition to the south and, like always, Mumtaz Mahal accompanied him. When Mumtaz Mahal died, she was just 39 years old. She was emperor's beloved wife and also Shah Jahan's trusted companion, travelling with him all over the Mugal Empire.
Shah Jahan initially known as Prince Khurram met Persian Princes ‘Arjumand Banu’ and fell in love with her. After five years, in 1612, they got married. In 1628, Shah Jahan became emperor and he bestowed her with title ‘Mumtaj Mahal’ meaning ‘Jewel of Palace’
On death of Mumtaj, Emperor was so heartbroken that he ordered the court into mourning for two years. Sometime after her death, Shah Jahan decided to erect the world's most beautiful monument in the memory of his beloved. Before she passed, she had her husband promise to build something unique in her memory.
Taj Mahal stands in the city of Agra, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the Yamuna River. It took 22 years and the labor of 22,000 workers to construct the monument, which is also said to be the last wish of Mumtaz Mahal.
Built as the ultimate expression of love, Taj remained a fascination for many poets and lovers.
Here are lines, from a very beautiful song written by Shakeel Badayuni:
"Ek Shahanshaah Ne Banavaa Ke Hasi.N Taajamahal
Saarii Duniyaa Ko Muhabbat Kii Nishaanii Dii Hai"
(In having the beautiful Taj Mahal built, an emperor has given the whole world a token of love"
Rabindranath Tagore described Taj as "a teardrop on the cheeks of time".
Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.
It is best described by the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, as "Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones."
Located in Agra, once the capital of Mughal Empire during 16th and early 18th century, Taj is centre of pilgrimage. Tourists from all over the world visit Agra to see Taj. It is 125 km in south of New Delhi, capital of India. Travelling through road route takes you approx 4 hours to reach Agra from Delhi. There are regular luxury bus and coach services between Delhi and Agra. If you catch a flight from Delhi to Agra, in just 30 minutes you find yourself at the Kheria Airport of Agra, 7 km from the city centre and 3 km from the railway station.
There are different entrance gates to visit Taj. Main entrance gate is made of red sandstone. It is 150 ft. wide and nearly 100 ft. high and consists of a lofty central arch with double storeyed wings on either side. The whole courtyard of Taj is framed in symmetrical. The only asymmetrical object in the Taj is the casket of the emperor, which was built beside the queen’s as an afterthought. The symmetry of the structure is there even in the flowerbeds and the small gardens dotting the place.
The real tragic part of love story lies in final years of Shah Jahan. When he was 65, his son Aurangzeb imprisoned him in Red Fort at Agra and became the successor of the throne. While he was in prison, he some how managed to have a gaze at Taj from the grill of prison.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains Taj attracts you to see the ultimate beauty designed in stones. A green carpet of garden runs from the main gate to the foot of the Taj Mahal. According to the holy Koran, a garden is symbolic of paradise.
I visited Taj while my recent visit to Delhi on 23rd of February. I went Delhi to receive Bhawana who was coming from Australia and we planned visiting Agra before coming back to our place. It was all time fascination for me to be there and breath in air touching Taj. Beauty of Taj has everything to create lifelong impressions on everybody's mind. I still feel all vibrations; I felt being over there. Though it was very short visit, we really enjoyed being there. Our 'guide boy' described all details related with Taj. The size of the monument looked huge as we entered, but as we approached it, it just receded to its actual size. This is called geometric illusion.
Very interestingly, Taj changes colors with changing daylight. It is built to reflect the sky so it is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden by moonlight. As the day turns to night and sun completes its journey and moon comes to heal the world, Taj becomes a mystery in itself. You may even forget to breathe or blink wondering it to be real or some illusion. Changing colors of Taj are said to signify the changing moods of a woman.
Impressed by flawless beauty of Taj, I wish to visit Taj again and again. Long live Taj and long live feelings of undying love, it is made for.
Article is written in 2011, so dates mentioned regarding my visit to Taj belongs to 2011
Taj Mahal: Music of Ancient India
© 2011 Jaspal Singh