I have seen Taj Mahal. From a train. I was fortunate enough to look at it from the train’s door as my hair and clothes fluttered with the air that blew from the outside of the moving train. It looked like a small figure to me, compared to the gigantic ‘red fort’ that is situated adjacent to it – the Agra Fort. These two historic sites are separated by the Yamuna River that flows in between them. The Agra Fort with its vibrant, brick-red color and intact battlements attracted me more than the off-white marble structure that is Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal’s marbles were fading in color reportedly due to acid rain and the toxic gases that came out of the nearby industries.
Everyone talks about Taj Mahal. It is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The best example of Mughal architecture. Built by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is often cited as a great monument of love. It is actually a mausoleum where Mumtaz Mahal was laid to rest. It is said that Shah Jahan was so particular about the fact that this should be the biggest monument that he dismembered the architect who built this for him. I became sad for him. I did not like the idea of him building a structure so big for Shah Jahan, and the hands being cut off for it while he was expecting a huge reward from the king!
I suppose medieval kings do not make good role models for the modern man. Man is more concerned about the big picture that he often ignores the small things that make life wonderful. Taj Mahal is a monument of Shah Jahan’s love for his wife. But what if everyone draws a sword in memory of his love? Like Shah Jahan did. I did not like that idea.
History says Shah Jahan was incarcerated by his own son Aurangazeb for the throne. He was imprisoned in the nearby Agra fort until his death in 1666. Aurangazeb conceded him one jail cell whose windows opened to the outside. From where he was able to see Taj Mahal, situated on the other side of the Yamuna river.