When it comes to India we can think mainly of its ancient history, its traditions, the good-hearted Indian people, women’s colourful sari or also shari (the typical garment for Southern Asia that is from 4.5 to 8 metres in lenght), bindi (the red Indian dots put in the centre of the forehead of married women in Southern Asia) and spicy Indian cuisine. The following four posts in row don’t intend to focus on all these peculiarities of the Indian culture but to walk you through some of the most famous and emblematic historic and tourist sites of the mystic country. So, let’s get started. Our first stop is ……
The Crown of Palaces: It’s said that Taj Mahal should be visited at either sunset or sunrise but it’s not quite true. It’s a place worth visiting at any time of the day because of the magic power, peace and quietness it possesses. When you head for the southern parts of the walled city of Agra and when you are in front of the testaceous arch you have no other possibility but enter the magnificent mausoleum, at the same time being greeted by soldiers dressed in their green uniforms and berets type “Che Guevara” and with their machine guns over their shoulders.
Being already inside, the sun beams get reflected in the water path which leads you to the two ivory-white sarcophagi. Opulence and elegance could be seen in all of the “pictures” of flowers and tracery embedded in the marble and all this was done in the name of love by the Mughal Emperor – Shah Jahan. He almost emptied coffers in order to build this marvelous building for his already dead love – Mumtaz Mahal.
Shah Mahal was inconsolable after his wife’s death. After 16 years of mutual life and after the birth of their 14 child, Mumtaz died at the age of 36. He was a in a deep sorrow for 6 months – he hardly ate and he suffered greatly. Then, he decided to build a memorable building for his beloved one. And thus he commissioned Taj Mahal in 1632. The Mughal Emperor chose all of the most talented masters, he ordered the most precious and expensive stones from all over the world and he gathered a “tiny” group of only 20 000 people who worked on the site.
I will open a bracket for one legend. Mughal rulers were well known to be cruel. Moreover, the Shah was a person who deviated to the two opposite poles. According to the legend, when the last architect came with the nth suggestions for the construction of the mausoleum, Shahl Jahan told him that nobody had ever succeeded in understanding his pain and grief caused by Mumtaz’s death and all other architects’ previous plans simply failed. He added that he had been looking for a true masterpiece. That’s why he ordered his soldiers to kill the architect’s wife. Only after that he got what he wanted. The mausoleum was fully completed in 1643 while the surrounding area (buildings and gardens) was finished five years after that. Bracket closed.
Shah Jahan was sent into exile to the Red Fort by his own son – Aurangzeb. After the Shah’s death, the son had a pity for him and “allowed” his father to be near his beloved Mumtaz forever and ever. Thus nowadays Taj Mahal symbolizes love although it’s a mausoleum, actually.
Tomorrow we are going to head to other splendid tourist sites but this time in the Pink City of India.