Every one knows about Taj. The timeless embodiment of love of emperor Shah Jahan for his lady Mumtaz. It is one of the marvelous creation of man on earth. All of us have heard about the story and beauty of Taj, many times, in books, media and word of mouth. But I bet you, whatever expectations you have about the pleasure of seeing it by whatever you heard or know, you will get dumbstruck the moment you enter the great gateway of Taj, the Darwaza l Rauza. The magnificent building in the capital city of India is indescribable in simple words and pleasure of a life time to just be in its vicinity. If you have not been blessed yet to have had a visit, I would urge you to make it happen soon.
On my much awaited visit to Delhi, Taj was in the must-visit list. Yet, due to the fact that tourism was not my primary motive behind Delhi visit, I was not sure whether I could make it possible.And also, to be frank, even though a lot was heard about the monument I was not much curious about it since I was like.. after all its just an old building in white marble. Here I have to mention that, I am the kind of person who just get irritated when I find myself that things that are much talked about by people are just hyped; and it happened with me so many times. But this time, it was so stupid of me to think like that.
We took a train from Delhi and reached Agra around 5 in the evening. We went to our hotel which was situated at a walk-able distance from Taj’s eastern gate. Ola and Uber was at your call, everywhere in Delhi and you will never find difficulty in commuting. I wanted to roam around the place before night but since we were tired, decided to just enjoy the food there and prepare for an early morning visit to Taj. There are a few special days every year, during which Taj is open for night viewing. But bookings for that need to be done 24 hours prior and this I came to know after reaching there and this particular day was such a kind! I dearly missed it and there was nothing I could do to get a ticket. More info about this opportunity can be found in this link Taj night viewing.
Everything that we could see there was in some way connected to Taj and its stories. In the stairways of the hotel, at every turn of the steps, there were displays of original photographs of Taj taken at different years. It was arranged in chronological order as we go up to fourth floor from ground floor.
Our dinner was arranged on the terrace of our hotel and we could enjoy a blurred view of Taj in moon light at a little distance away. It was like a teaser for the next day :-). During dinner, there was a desi dance organized by the hotel management and it added the final touches to the whole experience of pre-Taj day!
Taj opens everyday at sunrise except Fridays. The ticket counter was in a building called Shilpgram, close to the hotel and from there we could either walk or take a man driven rikshaw to Taj, no fuel-driven vehicles are allowed in the vicinity of the age-old monument. We were in a hurry to reach the entrance as one among the first visitors for the day, hence took a rikshaw. There were very less people on the roads and most of them were foreigners. After security check we entered the campus and found the place to be calm and beautiful in the first ray’s of morning sun. The place was peaceful except the tourist guides shouting to their customers, reciting their limited knowledge about the historical place. I would strongly recommend to avoid the service of such people and make use of a wonderful facility provided by Archeological Survey of India called AudioCompass. I would like to give more details of this in a separate post soon. In short, its a great audio guide that will emulate the feeling of being guided by a historical person walking next to you and taking you through the magnificence of the place you are at and its history. I am happy that we took the help of AudioCompass to make our visit meaningful and enjoyable.
We were yet to reach the main gate to Taj called Darwaz L Rauza. There are entries from three sides to a beautiful green pathway that leads to Darwaz L Rauza. It is indeed a great “darwaza” which announces the grace and chivalry of Mughal Empire. It is a marble structure adorned with floral motifs.
The view of Taj as you enter this great gateway is the most breathtaking moment as if you are entering paradise. I literally could’nt take my eyes away from the Taj at a distance covered with graceful pathway through the flowery garden. The sun had just risen and its rays were engaged in a sweet morning kiss with the beauty in white marble. If I were alone there, I would have not moved from the spot for hours!
Taj mahal is situated in a building complex that consists of a spacious garden with a wonderful fountain structure in the center. The whole campus gives all together an eternal feel as one walks towards the ivory-white structure in the end. Behind the Taj structure flows the Yamuna. As I was getting closer and closer to the Taj, AudioCompass was explaining the famous love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. The feel was complete with the serenity of the space, the morning sun, the story in my ears, the flowers in the garden and the gentle breeze.
We entered the mausoleum, saw the sarcophagi of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan. Enjoyed the marvelous handcrafts of Mughals. Each work in the structure is self-explanatory and intriguingly expressive of its greatness that any common man can have great pleasure in seeing it. After coming out of the main structure I stood at the southern side balcony overlooking the tranquil Yamuna. Shah Jahan might have stood right here with his heart weeping for his lady love. He might have told to Yamuna how much he missed her, standing right here. I could feel his pain from the undeniable beauty of Taj, standing tall above me.
I walked back through the garden under the shades of giant trees in the Mughal garden and sat in silence for some time under the shade. It was a nostalgic feeling to sit there in the garden of great emperor Shah Jahan where every stone and tree breaths stories of decades.
I was wondering whether Mumtaz herself had ever even dreamt of being this much beloved to her man that he created this paradise on earth, which became a universal monument of timeless love and people from far away nations too would travel across the globe to catch a glimpse of it.
You can read about the structural beauty of Taj from numerous sources available. But, believe me, none of them can describe the love that will fill your heart, when you are there, standing in front of Taj Mahal, feasting your eyes and soul.