Laying eyes on the most beautiful building in the world was one of few travel experiences that has left me with amplifying impressions long after I’ve had them. I’m not sure whether it was its whiteness, grandness, perfect symmetry or optical illusions that got me, but when I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time, I couldn’t think of anything else in the world. That’s saying something considering the quickness of my racing mind.
Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj in the seventeenth century to commemorate his love for the dead mother of his 14 children, Mumtaz Mahal. It took him 21 years, and he spent a fortune on employing thousands of craftsmen to build the Jewel of the Islamic architecture and burry the love of his life inside it.
Now THAT IS LOVE! The kind that makes my chest swell and nearly explode every time I think about it.
This is why hundreds of thousands of people go to visit the white domed marble mausoleum annually, long after the Mughal lovebirds have both perished. And this is why I have for years looked east knowing that eternal love is a definite truth. Why else would the Taj still be standing tall as the universal symbol of love?
Driven by a pressing desire, I travelled all the way to India to see it amongst other things earlier this year. I was fortunate enough to have my most romantic travel dream come true by seeing the one and only Taj Mahal from these unique vantage points:
Face to face
I’ve seen countless photos of it throughout my life; it looked pretty darn good in ALL of them, which made me worry. NOTHING (and NO ONE) looks that good in all the photos!
Nothing could’ve prepared me for it. There was the horrid mess out there that is India, and there was the Taj Mahal. I still can’t fathom how these two have coexisted all these years, but somehow they did.
I was awestruck, flabbergasted, amazed. It looked even better in person!
So there it was, in all its magnificence and glory, right in front of us. Angel and I just stood there at one point holding hands. We breathed in beauty and exhaled love. We tilted our heads from side to side in disbelief. Occasionally we blinked to make sure we were still alive.
“We’re here baby” he said. “We’re right here my love” I replied.
What else can I say? Eternal Love for sure is real.
From Mehtab Bagh
Mehtab Bagh is a 16th century Mughal park located on the east bank of the Yamuna river, that separates it from the mausoleum. The garden in the front yard of the Taj is perfectly aligned with it, which makes it an extension of the experience.
You get a decent view of the entire back of the building here, minus the crowd. Although the word seems to have gotten out and the secret garden’s popularity is increasing.
It would’ve been a great spot to watch the sun sink behind a world wonder, but unfortunately it was a cloudy day, so we didn’t catch a great one. Still, we had a nice unwinding stroll around the modest park and alongside the river.
Night fell gradually and blanketed the white giant.
From Agra Fort
Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned at the fort by his own son Aurangzeb for eight years before he died. He spent the last years of his life watching the architectural masterpiece that he built to house the resting soul if his beloved wife from a distance. Though he must’ve enjoyed many beautiful sunsets from there, I can’t tell whether this arrangement was consoling or heart wrenching for him.
After his death his son buried him next to his wife in the Taj, so when I stood where he stood many years ago and watched the Taj at the bottom of the murky horizon, I said a little prayer for both of their longing souls to finally be in a happy place together.
From the Oberoi Amaravilas Hotel
The hotel itself is one good looking place. It is so good looking in fact that it makes the Taj in the background look even more fabulous.
Its most prized feature and the reason we chose to stay here of course, is the magnificent view of the Taj from every guest room. The main lounge area and the attached balcony offer the same privilege. It makes for a perfect relaxed afternoon tea spot with a first class view.
At 5am, my eyelids cracked open to let some light through to my brain. My first thought was to jump on my feet and run to check out the awesome sunrise view from the our window. My second thought was that I don’t want to go back to bed just in case this was a hell of a sweet dream.
This must be how a Mughal princess felt when she got up in the morning and looked out of the window back in the days. No comparison intended. Or maybe a little!
I wish we had scheduled at least one more night to stay here and enjoy the facilities, separated by a thick wall from the craziness of outside. Trust me, when in India you’ll find yourself often praying hard for that.
Has your dream of seeing the Taj Mahal come true yet? What was your favorite view of it?