The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and that’s for a very good reason! It took more than 20 years and 20,000 workers to build it (including 8 years of just decorating it) and the monument is truly breathtaking. If you ever go to India, you absolutely must visit it!
So, two weeks ago we went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Instead of taking the train (1000 rupees for a return ticket), we hired a driver and that was the best decision ever – only 250 rupees more expensive but it was much much more convenient! The ride was comfortable, we stopped to have lunch, the driver knew how to reach different monuments and we didn’t have to worry about anything. 🙂
Our goal was to meet sunrise at the Taj Mahal and we almost achieved it: we got up at 5:00am and reached the East gates at around 6:20, minutes before the sunrise. Sadly, the gates were still not opened so we queued for another 15 minutes, until finally entering the main site and rushing through the inner yard to reach a giant red gateway with 22 small domes (each marking one moon calendar year).
The gateway might have been designed for protection reasons but I think it serves an entirely different purpose: the contrast of pitch-black darkness inside of the gateway and the glowing construction of white marble in the far – you can’t help but stop and admire the majestic Taj Mahal! It most definitely contributes to an unforgettable first impression for many!
After wandering through the park and taking our first pictures, we headed to the main mausoleum where the third and the most favourite wife of the emperor was buried. If you ever go to Taj Mahal I would advise you go to the mausoleum straight away as it gets very crowded in just a few hours after opening.
It was also great that we decide to hire a guide as we learned many interesting things, including:
- how the emperor tried creating a unified religion (thus, him having a Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu wife);
- how they built a mosque on one side of the site but it messed up all the symmetry so they built a guesthouse on the other side (the only asymmetrical thing is the emperor’s grave next to his wife);
- how they used 66 small pieces of corals and other precious stones for the decoration of a single flower inside of the mausoleum;
- how the workers infiltrated Christian and Hindu symbols into the mausoleum without the emperor even knowing it;
- how the minarets are empty inside so that, in case of a flood, they wood fill-up first, and how they’re built with a 5º angle to fall away from the mausoleum during an earthquake;
- how the emperor was later overthrown by his son and put into jail for 9 years, where he, apparently, look at the Taj Mahal on a reflection of a diamond;
- how you can even recognise the face of Albert Einstein on one of the stone pieces of the mausoleum from the river side (no idea how it appeared there but it definitely looks like him!);
- aaand many other things!
Also, many people have heard the story of ‘the emperor had literally cut the hands of the workers!’ but, according to our guide, they should have used ‘figuratively‘ instead. 😀 We were told that the workers had signed contracts that didn’t allow them to go and work on other buildings until the Taj Mahal was finished – thus, ‘their hands were cut’.
Even if some of these details turn out to be completely wrong, it doesn’t matter too much – who can tell exactly what happened 500 years, anyway? 😉
What’s undeniable – the Taj Mahal is one of the most incredible architectural wonders in the entire world!
And I really wish for all of you to see it with your own eyes. 🙂