800 Million pounds worth of beauty 400 years ago…
If you were to ask just about anyone to name something in India I suspect nine times out of ten they will say the Taj Mahal. It is one of those places that pretty much everyone has heard of and most have a vague picture in their heads of what it looks like (even if that is due to their local Indian takeaway having the same name!). It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is often included on more modern lists of the seven wonders of the world. I therefor couldn’t have a section about India and not include it.
The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1648 in Agra by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife who had died. In total he had seven wives. It was to be a lasting memory of his love for her and the place she would be buried. The main structure is built from white marble and originally he had planned to build a black marble structure next to it for himself to be buried in but by all accounts the white one cost so much money there wasn’t enough left for the black one, but it is still possible to see where foundations were dug out in preparation.
The design of the Taj Mahal is superb the attention to detail is incredible, I think that is one of the things that impressed me so much as I am a stickler for the detail. Everything is symmetrical across the 2/3 mile site. All the architecture, designs and gardens come together beautifully with the Taj at the centre. The building itself is huge and unless you stand in front of it you could never really imagine how awesome it is. But one of my over riding memories is how intimate and small the inside area is in comparison. He clearly wanted his architect, thought to be Ustad Ahmad but no one knows for certain, to build a prodigiously immense monument but at the same time create the internal design to reflect the Emperor’s close affection for his wife. The marrying of these two aspects make the structure utterly superb.
We were fortunate enough to have the pleasure of being shown around India by Raj. He said ‘There are two sorts of people in this world. The ones who have seen the Taj Mahal and the ones who haven’t’. He recommended that we go to a garden across the Yamuna river to watch the sun go down over the Taj from a distance and then the following morning early to go and see the early morning sun coming up from the site itself. This was such a perfect plan and I would recommend anyone planning a visit to do the same. During the day it gets packed with visitors so the earlier you can get there the better. One day I will visit again and sit watching the colours changing with the movement of the sun and wonder what the woman was really like that had inspired this incredible crescendo of creativity and design.