The Magnificent Taj Mahal.
A Wonderful sight , The Taj Mahal.
Have you ever saved money for something special?Something to buy or a place to visit.? Something , that means a lot to you. ? e.g. You may dream of seeing the pyramids of Egypt, The Grand Canyon,, but when you get there , you have been disappointed? Felt let down?Not what you expected, therefore an anti-climax after so much waiting?
This happened to me after having a reproduction print of the Mona Lisa on my wall in our hallway at home. For years l wondered if the ´´real thing ´´ would look different.
My husband and l made a trip to Paris and saw the beautiful Palace at Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors is enormous and full of the grandeur l expected.
However the day we chose to visit The Louvre Museum which houses the Mona Lisa, my excitement was mounting lik a child´s as we passed incredible masterpieces one after the other. Finally we arrived at the room where the Mona Lisa hangs.
The huge room looked empty apart from one spot where people had congregated, obviously taking in the beauty of one particular painting. The Mona Lisa.
We walked towards it and as l got close to the painting l found myself staring and rooted to the spot. No! Not in awe of the painting. l was rooted to the spot with shock!. It didn´t matter which way l looked at it, from whatever angle, l had the same reaction. ¨Duh! OK, So what?For a split second l even believed it must be a fake. Something was missing, l just could not see what all the fuss was about. Disappointment hardly describes how l felt. Obviously that was just me ! Other people were raving over the masterpiece.
Thankfully the Louvre is such a magnificent museum with so many fantastic things to see. We had a wonderful day there until our feet would not allow us to walk any further.
My reaction on a visit to India and going to see the Taj Mahal, had the complete opposite effect.. The moment we were inside the gates , with the Taj a long way ahead, l was rooted to the spot. This time in awe , full of admiration and joy at the architecture. The symmetry of the entire building took my breathe away.
Even before getting close to it, from quite a distance, l was overwhelmed. l have never seen such a beautiful building. Even after the many Castles and Palaces that l´d visited in my life, nothing compared to this tomb.! Which is after all what the The Taj Mahal is ..... a mauseleum.
l would have loved the poet in me to have been able to describe the beauty l saw., but l couldn´t. Rudyard Kipling had already called it ¨The embodiment of all that is pure¨. and an Indian poet had described it as Ä teardrop on the face of eternity. ¨¨¨....
We made our way along the esquisite pathway, alongside the glorious lily pond until we reached a set of steps.
Here there were hundreds of pairs of shoes and l noticed everyone took off their shoes, l just couldn´timagine how we´d find our own shoes later on. There didn´t seem to be any particular order about it and there were so many!!! Off with the shoes, l thought out of respect, it is a tomb after all, plus l imagine that gorgeous marble floor would suffer very quickly if high heels were allowed. Millions of visitors every year would ruin it. (One of the funniest things l soon learned about India is that what appears to be chaotic, does work. There was no problem getting the right shoes back later on)
If you ever have the oportunity to visit India, don´t miss out on the Taj Mahal, but l would recommend an official guide for 2 reasons.
The first thing was that our guide talked us through the whole story of the building of this incredible mausoleum. He told us about Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz..
Shah Jahan was so devastated on the death of his beloved 2nd wife, Mumtaz as she gave birth to their 14th child, that it is said his hair turned grey overnight.
Our guide went on to explain that this was why the Shah built such an extravagant memorial to Mumtaz.. Our guide was extremely polite, spoke perfect English and explained anything we asked very competently,
One thing that surprised me was the fact that those perfectly symmetrical (l thought) Minarets at each of the four corners of the building were not perpendicular as l´d thought, but actually they had been purposely built leaning slightly outwards.
The reason for this was that in the event of an earthquake, the minarets would fall outwards and not onto the precious tomb.
As we got closer to the walls of the Taj l could see Arabic writing ..... verses from the Koran, but to my amazement the lovely shiny stones embedded in the marble walls were not shiny glass, but REAL gems. !! Sapphires, Emeralds,.... l could hardly believe it. At this point it crossed my mind that it was not really surprise that the Shahs´hungry people rioted and locked the Shah in prison overlooking his masterpiece. He could see it till the end of his days but his extravagance in spending so many millions of Rupees on the Taj Mahal, while so many of his people lived in severe poverty, cost him his liberty.
The second reason l´d recommend an official guide is he can and will tell you what to avoid near the Taj Mahal once you are outside the gates.
There are some unscrupulous people as there are all over the word. Once one scam has been discovered it is immediately replaced with another. Young men will very forcibly try to put souvenirs into your hands giving stories of the ´history´of what sadly is worthless junk.
You really need to hold onto or hide your wallet for those few yards leading up to the gates.
Having a guide who spoke the local language made me feel we had a body-guard, and as we were not so young when we did this trip, it was the wisest course for us and did not cost to much.
l wouldn´t have missed the visit to such a masterpiece of architecture for anything.
It´s about 5 years since we were there and , still, when l see a picture or something on television about the Taj Mahal... l can see and feel inside me the experience all over again.
It made such an impression on me.
Definitely the most beautiful building l have ever seen. Nothing compares to the ´magic´of the Taj Mahal.