Recently I read in a Hindi newspaper that out of all the desires that people all around the world want to fulfil before they die is to visit The Taj Mahal. Interestingly, the survey involves people from America and most of the English speaking countries.
On the other hand, I have this relative of mine who thinks that India doesn’t really have much to boast about when it comes to tourism. According to him, India lacks the beauty of Switzerland, cleanliness of Singapore, etc.
But for me, it’s not about being Indian and appreciating your own country for what it is but to actually look around and see what a huge amalgam of various cultures our country is. This huge diversity has always fascinated me and that brings me back to the epitome of love, The Taj.
Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World has an important mark on the world map, in terms of history, beauty, architecture and tourism. Reaching this beautiful monument is no herculean task as Agra is well connected to Delhi and to other parts of the country by road and all other means. Taj is situated near the banks of river Yamuna, a serene location well chosen by Shahjahan. Being in northern part of the country, it is best to visit the Taj from October to March.
The monument, as we all know, was built by Shahjahan in the memory of his beloved (third) wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to his 14th child (most of us didn’t knew this? right?) There are so many stories associated with this particular monument that raises excitement and interest in every visitor’s mind and heart. One of them being about the real and fake graves of Shahjahan and Mumtaz.
Coming to the beauty, this structure in white marble is a masterpiece of Mughal and Persian architecture. It has been designed in a way that it reflects the sky. Simply put, it changes colour with changing daylight. Therefore in a moonlit night, the Taj stands at its best – glorious and picturesque. No wonder it attracts people from all walks of life. Be it the common man, celebrities or politicians. The magnificent minarets surrounding the main tomb depicts the king’s dedication for his religion as the minarets were designed to be used by the muezzin for calling people for prayer. The couplets from Holy Quran are inscribed on it.
Taj has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the organization has been constantly astonished by the number of people who visit it every year including millions of people from far away countries. There is another side to this beautiful building, the dark stories that makes one wonder whether it can really be attributed as the eternal symbol of love. Like the fact that the workers’ hands were cut off by order of Shahjahan after the completion of monuments so that no other monument as grand as the Taj can ever be recreated or the debate on whether it’s a Shiva Temple forcibly converted to the queen and king’s grave bed.
Also, the growing industrialization and pollution has taken its toll on the Taj, destroying its beauty and grandeur. Air pollutants such as Sulphur Dioxide have played a big role in turning the white monument to yellow. The decreasing water level of river Yamuna and dumping of garbage in it has only added to the existing problems.
Nonetheless, Rightly described by Rabindranath Tagore as “A teardrop in the face of eternity” and in spite of all the odds, India has a distinct place in the world, just because of this one monument which continues to make people fall in love, with it and with each other!