🇮🇳 The Taj Mahal – Agra

“The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time”

– Rabindranath Tagore

Going to New Delhi was about to be a new experience compared to the destinations I’d been to before. With a flight time of 8.5 hours and time difference of 5.5 hours(ahead), we arrived in New Delhi from London around midnight. Although this was only a 24 hr trip, I really wanted to visit the Taj Mahal but to do this meant leaving at 3am to get to Agra. I booked the trip as soon as I arrived at the hotel in New Delhi so after getting ready and a couple of hours to relax, the transport arrived to go to Agra.

The journey to Agra was 4 hours by bus so the chance to get some sleep. As the sun began to rise it was a chance to see some of the surroundings on the way. As we got closer to Agra, I was surprised to see some of the small towns. From the eye of a westerner, they just seemed so poverty stricken but this didn’t seem to be a problem for the locals and they were just getting on with their everyday lives.

As a monkey lover, it was mesmerising seeing the monkeys just roaming the streets amongst the locals alongside the cows. In Hinduism, the cow is a sacred animal and as India has a population of approx 1.3 billion, 80% of this figure is made up of Hindus. They worship the cow as a ‘gift from god’ and this is why you will see them just walking around or resting on the streets of India. It is illegal to kill a cow in India and to eat beef is considered a sin.

“Millions of Hindus revere and worship cows. Hinduism is a religion that raises the status of Mother to the level of Goddess. Therefore, the cow is considered a sacred animal, as it provides us life sustaining milk. The cow is seen as a maternal figure, a care taker of her people. The cow is a symbol of the divine bounty of earth”

http://ayurveda-sedona.com/knowledge-center/spirituality/holy-cow/

🇮🇳 Taj Mahal – Agra 🇮🇳

After the 4 hour drive, we finally arrived at the TaJ Majal which is situated on the right bank of the Yamuna River over 42 acres of land. On entrance to the Taj Mahal, there was such a contrast from the poverty looking areas I’d just witnessed to the majestic royal sights that was appearing before me. A marble masterpiece that was symbol of eternal love.

The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1631 by Shah Jahan in memory and to home the tomb of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahl(a former Persian Princess) who died in childbirth on June 17th of the same year. Her death occurred whilst having their 14th child and due to the grief of Shah Jahan, one of the New Wonders of the world was created.

The construction of the Taj Mahal took place from 1631 until 1653 and took the work of 20,000 workmen who were specialists in their profession. A thousand elephants were also used for the transportation of materials and was adorned with as many as 28 different kinds of semi-precious and precious stones which you can see and feel the texture of.

What was truly awe inspiring about this breathtaking Mausoleum was the symmetry, balance and optical illusion. The reflecting pool really makes the symmetry of everything prominent and looking at it from the Darwaza-i rauza(The Great Gate) which is the only real entry into the Taj Mahl and is an architectural marvel in its own right. Although I only saw the Taj in the daylight, it is said that It appears to change colour depending on what time of day it is or whether or not there is a moon at night. Everywhere I looked, it just looked like a photoshopped picture and has to be seen to believed to fully appreciate this truly breathtaking wonder of the world.

Darwaza-i rauza(The Great Gate), gardens and reflection pools
Darwaza-i rauza(The Great Gate)
The land over the River that it is claimed the ‘Black Taj Mahal’ was to be built.
Outside the entrance of the Taj Mahal

Myths

* It is claimed that Shah Jahan ordered that the hands of all the craftsmen involved in the creation of the Taj Mahal were chopped off to prevent them creating anything of this great beauty again. No historians have ever found proof of this therefore a baseless claim with no evidence.

* Legend also has it that Shah Jahan planned to build a ‘Black Taj Mahal’ across the river, symmetrically opposite the original Taj Mahal and was to be the home of his tomb upon death. However, is said that he is in fact buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal.

* The Taj Mahal was as much a symbol of power as it was as love and that the symmetry symbolises power, the precision of Mughals Leadership.

The Trip to the Taj Mahal

The trip to the Taj Mahal from New Delhi cost around 5000 rupees(£55 GBP) and included the transport, entrance to the Taj Mahal and tip for the driver. The tour guide we had inside the Taj was fantastic and gave us all the history on everything as we were going around. He couldn’t do enough for people and was even taking pictures and even became the photographer. One thing you do need to watch out for outside the Taj Mahal are the touts and sellers as they can be quite forceful with their selling.

Although it was a long journey after the flight and then to Agra, it was worth every penny and distance to see this magnificent creation of architecture and as I said before, it is only when it is seen can it’s really beauty and history be fully understood and appreciated. I have so much gratitude that I was able to experience this and it is no surprise it is one of the New Wonders of the World.

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