It was at the top of ours!
I have known about the Taj Mahal my entire life, in fact, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t aware of it. Back in 1992, Princess Diana had her iconic photograph taken on a bench in front of the stunning white marble building, this helped catapult the world’s most famous mausoleum into modern fame. Who wouldn’t want to replicate such a beautiful photo?
That bench is still there affectionately known as Lady Di’s Chair’.
But would I be disappointed when I visited, especially as we were going for sunrise. Is the Taj Mahal just another building? Or is it the greatest monument of love ever built?
In 2007 it was declared a winner of the "New 7 Wonders of the World".
On our visit to India, we were most excited about the day we would see the most elaborate display of love the world has known. We aren’t usually attracted to architecture and we know there are many people who feel the same, after all, it’s just a building right? This isn’t a natural phenomenon, something crafted by nature ... builders created this man-made structure.
In my words … viewing one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World
I kept journals for all my life-changing holidays, and below is an extract written moments after I had been to the Taj Mahal.
Pause for thought.
Now I will continue.
We had an early 5.45am start to ensure we arrived in time for sunrise. There are no vehicles allowed in the vicinity to alleviate pollution so an electric coach took us up to the entrance.
Just as we entered the gates, the sun started to rise from the East. Our first glimpse cannot be expressed in words and during the next 1.5 hours in the grounds, a thesaurus wouldn’t have enough adjectives to describe the varying emotions we felt.
Unfortunately the photographs taken were unable to capture its true beauty.
At around 7.30am it was time for us to take a wander, and get up close to this magnificent building! We were pleased to see a clear blue sky when the sun shone fully.
In truth, I don’t think we succeeded …. I don’t even know if it’s possible!
The domed building is the tomb where the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife (for whom this mausoleum was built) are buried so no photography is allowed. The tombs, and the outside area, are all decorated with hand painted leaves, flowers and quotations from the Quran.
Whilst walking away from the building, we turned to look and, adding to its charm, the sun shone on the stone making it glisten like diamonds. Wow!
As we turned to walk out of the main gates, sadness overcome us and the wonder of it all almost brought tears to our eyes. We couldn’t help but linger for just a few precious moments more before turning our heads, and walking away forever”
She was right. It was a very strange, humbling feeling and one we had never felt before, or since.
Very poignantly, in April 2016, 24 years after Diana visited the Taj Mahal, her son William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, sat on that same bench.
Prince William felt incredibly lucky to visit a place where his mother’s memory is kept alive by so many who travel there. William and Kate planned to make new memories for themselves of the Taj Mahal for their future.
Our visit to this majestic building left a deep and lasting impression. For me, The Taj Mahal is most definitely a monument of love, and not just another building.
The Taj Mahal is named after the second wife of Emperor Shah Jahan - Mumtaz Mahal. It was built as a memorial after she died giving birth to their 14th child in June 1631, both Mumtaz and her husband are now buried there.
The Emperor adored his wife so much and wanted the best for her, so commissioned the Taj Mahal as a declaration of his love. The building is made from ivory-white marble known as “Taj marble” and is the toughest in the world due to its non-porous quality. I think it’s fair to say this accolade is true, bearing in mind this majestic wonder has withstood over 350 years of harsh sun, rain, monsoons and is still in pristine condition.
The four minarets which flank each corner were built purely to add beauty but are cleverly positioned at a 4° angle away from the building. If a “mishap” occurred and they were to fall, it would be away from the main building and not into it.
It is estimated that 20,000 workers consisting of labourers, carpenters, craftsman, artists and engineers worked for almost 22 years on the monument until its completion in 1653.
Our tour guide told us of a horrible grotesque side behind the building of this extravagant “monument of love”. Local Legend has it that 1,500 chief stonemasons were thanked for their dedication and hard work by having both their hands cut off, this was to ensure they would never be able to re-create the Taj Mahal.
Even worse still, the chief architect not only had both his hands chopped off but his eyes were removed from his sockets.
There are no facts to back up this story, no historical accounts documented, but if this is actually true, the question is whether it should be broadcast as a testament to those who suffered for its cause, or should it remain quiet to maintain the “romanticism” behind the monument??
If it's untrue, you then have to wonder, why would someone make up this terrible tale in the first place?
We will never know ...
Have you been to the Taj Mahal? What were your thoughts, did it meet your expectations? Is the Taj Mahal on your bucket list? Tell us in the comment section below!
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