When I told my friends I was visiting the Taj Mahal, some shared the excitement while quite a few of them exclaimed that it was over-rated. A couple of them even asked me to share later whether the sight of Taj Mahal actually mesmerised me as people claim. This was the second time I visited this monument and trust me, I was just as fascinated by its beauty as I was the first time I set my eyes on it. Despite being covered by a framework of bamboo for maintainance, it still looked spectacular!
We reached Agra after a road trip of some 600 kilometres and the Taj Mahal made it worth every second we spent on the road. The sheer magnanimity of its size is enough to make your jaw drop. Despite the large number of visitors thronging the compound, one can have a clear look at the majestic monument and that is when you realise the reason why- the dimensions of the Taj Mahal are way too large to be eclipsed even by scores of people who appear like ants in comparison.
The symbol of undying love of an emperor for his wife, Taj Mahal is among one of the wonders of the world for many reasons and you need to see it yourself to understand what the Taj actually means!
The optical illusion
As we entered the complex through one of the many entries, we were frisked and then allowed to go further. While walking through one of the entrances, we beheld the optical illusion of the Taj Mahal moving away from us as we stepped ahead. It has got something to do with the architecture of the entrance that has been very cleverly designed. The guide very melodramatically explained that it was done so that everyone who left the place took the Taj Mahal with him in his heart! Nevertheless, the illusion was bewildering.
The sprawling lawns, fountains and the highly accurate symmetry of the entire complex makes you wonder at the precision with which the engineers of those times worked despite the limited resources at hand. Before I forget, let me share what I learnt that day- the hands of those who created the Taj Mahal were not cut as is widely believed. They were bestowed with ample wealth so as not to replicate the design. Was I glad to learn that!
The main mausoleum
A walk through the main mausoleum where the two eternal lovers lie is like a peep into their personal world and I kind of felt guilty of prying. The guide told us that the cenotaphs were basically just memorial cenotaphs and the bodies were actually buried quite deep in the ground. That was somewhat of a relief and helped me shift my focus to the innumerable precious and semiprecious stones adorning the inside of the mausoleum. Photography is not permitted inside as a mark of respect.
The minarets that stand at the four corners of the dome are slightly tilted outwards if you observe keenly. We were told that it was again an architectural sensibility to protect the dome in case of an earthquake, ensuring that the minarets fall outwards and not on the dome.
The entire structure sits over a wooden structure that is strengthened by the moisture from the river Yamuna that flows by its side. Another reason why it cannot be damaged by natural calamities. Hats off to the engineer!
The Black Taj Mahal
From the platform of the Taj Mahal, the site where Shah Jahan wanted to build a black Taj Mahal for his own self is visible. At the place where another magnificent monument could have stood had his son not imprisoned him looks like an empty patch of land with a single minaret at one corner.
The walk made us all the more curious about the culture and lifestyle of the Mughals and we decided to drop by at the museum that resides within the complex.
The museum is a peep into history and the life of the Mughals as it displays the various currency coins, the weapons and the artefacts from that era and also showcases the different stones and gems used in the construction of Taj Mahal. I was peculiarly fascinated by a poison testing bowl that was used to test the food before offering it to the King and it either changed colour or shattered to pieces if any poison was present. Wow!
Awed and stupefied by the sheer architectural genius and the immense love behind the conception of the grand structure, we went back but not before making a silent promise to revisit and stopping to read this outside the gates..