Our group is to visit it at 10:00, but several gals went the previous day at sunrise and said it was magnificent at that time of the morning. So my roommate and another pal decided to go for it. We arose at 6:00 and hired a tuk-tuk to take us the 5-minute ride. We took off in the dark, down pot-holed alleyways with barely enough light to see the obstacles ahead of us. The driver takes us to the head of a passageway where a few people are walking. We try to get him to take us to the front of the Taj, but he refuses, and then we see a sign that vehicles aren’t allowed past that point. We set off on foot, lighted only by my small pocket flashlight.
We had been advised to go around to the back of the monument to see the sun rise over the Taj. We try to ask about this, but no one speaks enough English to understand. Finally, a voice says “I’ll take you,” and we trustingly head off down a dark, rubble-strewn path following a perfect stranger. We try not to think of all the horrible things that could befall us, and trudge on. If this had been New York, I wouldn’t be going down a dark, deserted path like this. But we continue. We come to the end of the path to the river, and see the Taj looming behind the surrounding 20′ wall, and barbed wire fence. I snap a few pics (I took these) before we realize we can’t see the sunrise from where we are. There is the Taj, but we can’t see it well, so we scurry back to the entrance.
We buy our tickets and enter the main grounds. Viewing the Taj from the gateway we are breathless. It takes on a surreal feel as it’s surrounded by fog. The onion dome’s edges blend into the fog.
I stand for a moment mesmerized. I think of the history of this mausoleum, and the great love that inspired it. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan promised to build something in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, when she was on her death bed during delivery of their 14th child. She asked him to build something to show the world their eternal love. After 2 years of mourning, he began work on this monument. It took 22 years and 22,000 workers to complete. The design and craftmanship are the best of that time.
When his son later imprisoned the Emperor in the a fort across the river, he was allowed to stay in rooms where he could see the Taj. He reportedly looked out every day, longing for his beloved, until he died.
To peer on this testament of love is moving. That someone could love someone so much to invest so much time, money and energy to their memory is moving — a spiritual experience. Can this kind of love really be possible? I think so. Don’t you?
(Note: These are all pics I took.)