After visiting Agra Fort the earlier day, I was already set for the day – my heart and soul could still feel the air of the bygone mughal era. I was still in that sombre mood set by the narrative of Mughal history by Nasiruddin Shah the earlier evening about how a thriving empire came to its end. I could still hear horses of the Mughal army trotting in the far. I could still feel the shadows conspiring and somewhere lurking in those dark aisles and near those long corridors. How would be the life in those days…royal yet primitive…where have we reached now as a human race…
With all these feelings and thoughts, I headed towards the breakfast buffet – with a sumptuous breakfast laid in front of me, I was again transcended back into the modern era of puddings and pancakes, of microwave ovens and refrigerated ice-creams. I wonder about the potency of human mind. It has the capacity to transcend eras like a supersonic time machine.
All of us rushed the breakfast so as to reach the entrance of Taj by 8.45 AM.
Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM
Tickets: can be bought online or from the ticket counter (do not carry any books or pencils with you)
The Taj Mahal, meaning Crown of the Palace is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. (as sourced from Wikipedia)
We had booked the tickets online (it is very simple and easy procedure – rather than standing in the ques to procure tickets, it is best to procure the tickets online). When we arrived, we were happy to see no ques at the entrance. After thorough security check, we were allowed inside (one of my books was not allowed to be carried inside – no books, paper, drawing book is allowed inside. There are lockers where you can go and keep the books. I also went and deposited my book in the locker).
It was my 4th visit to the Taj – this one was after a gap of 14 years but I felt it as good as the first one. The beauty of the place is such that one can never seem to get enough of it.
The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.
Architecture and Design (as sourced from Wikipedia)
The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture.
The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial.
The most spectacular feature is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb. The dome is nearly 35 metres (115 ft) high. The shape of the dome is emphasised by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners, which replicate the onion shape of the main dome.
The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level. There are many mysteries associated with the whole structure and there is definitely an air of suspense around the area.
Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The minarets, which are each more than 40 metres (130 ft) tall, display the designer’s penchant for symmetry. They were designed as working minarets—a traditional element of mosques.
The structure is so grand and magnificent that one of the most indifferent souls will also sing a song of praise.
We spent about half a day inside living and feeling those moments. Lot of pictures were clicked. Now a day they have started asking people to cover their footwear with cloth shoes while walking on the white marble. They have also restricted time spent in the tomb. I remember my first visit when I could actually go to the chambers below and see the actual graves. Now, those chambers are only opened for very high-profile dignitaries. Many things have been changed to protect ‘Taj’ and maintain its beauty.
Just outside the premises of Taj, there are many souvenir shops which sell items like fridge magnets, marble cases, marble pen stands, leather footwear etc.
There is also a special sweet of Agra – ‘petha’ of ‘Panchi’ brand which is very famous. The sweet is made up of sugar and pumpkin and is extremely delicious.
After half a day excursion, we headed back to the hotel and checked out to head towards Delhi.
It was a memorable trip – more memories were added to my books of ‘Taj’ and the ‘Mughal Era’