“A massive marble structure, without weight, as if formed of ether, perfectly rational and at the same time entirely decorative, it is perhaps the greatest art work which the forming spirit of mankind has ever brought forth.”
Count Hermann Keyserling, German Philosopher
There is barely a year I can remember when I haven’t gazed wistfully and longingly at photographs of the greatest monument on earth; The Taj Mahal.
How was this great structure built? How can it look so beautiful? The sheer size of it! Will I ever see it? All questions I would ask myself as a teen, eager for travel and already feeling an innate and long buried deep connection to the Motherland, India.
With the advent of the internet and then YouTube, the floodgates of my curiosity opened further and I seeped myself in images and documentaries about the Taj Mahal. Then on one incredible day in March 2017, I invited someone very special to me – my beautiful Kashmiri friend, Shabir, to accompany me on some North India travel. He agreed and, of course, a visit to the Taj Mahal was at the top of our agenda.
On 10th May 2017, we arose very early as we had planned to get to The Taj at sunrise so as we could enjoy a good three hours there before the hoards arrived. It turned out to be a good decision! By 9am, just when we were leaving, the May Agra temperatures and humidity was rising fast and the crowds were descending.
Our taxi driver had arranged for his tour guide friend ( he actually was an official tour guide and not just the taxi driver’s mate) to spend our time with us. His name is Abdullah ( if I remember rightly) and he was super quirky and quite sweet and incredibly informative! Abdullah met us at the main street and together we walked the fairly long pathway, past gardens and crazy monkeys eating garbage, to the ticket booth where, of course, I paid much more than Shabir for entry to The Taj.
I was so excited I could barely breathe! I had watched countless videos of people approaching the main archway where the view of The Taj was symmetrically and directly in front. And here I was, about to do the same!
Shabir respected my decision to have ‘this moment’ alone ( Abdullah took a little more convincing – he really likes to talk), and with trepidation and high emotion, I walked through the archway……. and there it was!
The Taj Mahal.
In all its majestic, white, stupendous glory, I stood in awe, with tears in my eyes and in that moment I had a feeling of having somehow ‘come home’. I had waited for as long as I can remember for this day, this moment in time which shall remain with me forever.
For all the images I had gazed at and the number of videos I’d watched, nothing, NOTHING could’ve prepared me for the sheer beauty of this incredible monument of love. I was completely blown away by the size of it! What’s more, I was here sharing this incredible day with a new love, which made everything feel even more magical!
Shabir and I spent the next few hours ( with the help of Abdullah) walking, talking, staring, marvelling, touching, taking videos, photographs and making incredible memories.
The inlay of the semi-precious stones in the walls blew my mind! As I said, seeing photographs of these intricate works of art simply couldn’t prepare me for the real thing. There are literally thousands of incredible patterns of flowers and vines which adorn the monument in border fashion and frame blocks of intricate stone carvings.
Verses from The Quoran cover large areas of this bewitching structure in exquisite form and touching them filled me with deep emotion.
Inside the Taj Mahal, we meandered through coolly shaded walkways marvelling further at the complex and sophisticated carvings of the low walls which surrounded the tombs. Of course, the real tombs of Mughul emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz, are buried deep underground, but that doesn’t defer from the surreal and otherworldly quality of the interior of this splendiferous building.
After we had spent a long time with the Taj, I sat quietly in deep reflection, trying to assimilate the wonder of what I had just seen.
We moved onto the incredible and sacred mosque located at the Western side of the Taj Mahal and this filled me with almost as much awe as the Taj itself! Again, the emotions which are felt at the mind-blowing architecture and the impossibly beautiful sacred geometry shapes are something which cannot be experienced by photographs or videos. Like the Taj Mahal, this mosque needs to be seen to be believed!
Shabir and I sat between both monuments and discussed our shared visualisations of being in this courtyard almost 400 years ago. I saw regal men and beautiful women strolling by. I heard the bewitching sound of the Muslim call to prayer as it bellowed from the minarets and I imagined men, kneeling in devotion. What a magical place!
With deep emotion and great gratitude, we realised our time at the Taj Mahal had come to an end. We strolled slowly away through the gardens, looking back over our shoulders many times as the Taj Mahal slowly disappeared from view.
In this post, I haven’t really given too many facts and figures about the Taj and the mosque as my emotions whilst writing this haven’t really lent themselves towards that. I feel nostalgic, sentimental and wistful and I think I’ve pretty much typed myself into going back there again, sooner rather than later.
I hope I’ve portrayed well enough how excited and happy I was to be visiting the Taj Mahal on this day and if you would like to watch my vlog of this very special day, you will see it for yourself! Also, Abdullah offers some very interesting facts. So check it out HERE. Youtube Heidi’s Journey.
I hope I’ve sparked an interest in you to visit and if you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend making this trip. Here are a few links to websites for your information and reading pleasure.
A description with photos of how the semi -precious stones are constructed. https://www.core77.com/posts/25995/Ancient-Crafts-The-Stone-Inlays-of-the-Taj-Mahal
Good old Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_Mahal
The official website of the Taj Mahal https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/do%26nots.html