Thursday, 28 August 2008

27 August 2008: Taj Mahal

Squeezing past a cow – which blocked the exit to our hotel – and passing two camels, we arrived at the Taj Mahal at 6am, hoping to see it in the famous pink shade of the rising sun. The sunrise wasn't that good, but even then the Taj took our breath away with its serene beauty and calm.

Emperor Shah Jahan had the monument built as a memorial to his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. He aimed for perfection and achieved it. The Taj is an architectural masterpiece, reflecting the depth of Shah Jahan's feelings: his eternal love for Mumtaz and the deep sadness he felt at her death. The Taj Mahal is a truly magical place.

Our lunchtime café provided a great vantage point from where we could watch the world go by. One man was wheeling a vegetable cart through the streets lined with open sewers. A vegetable fell off, only to be picked up off the street and place back on the cart. A little later, another grocery seller had placed his cart full of colourful produce on a street corner. Three metres to the right, a holy Hindu bull shaded from the searing heat. The grocer went into a nearby café, only to come rushing out as the holy bull stole an apple. With a plank of wood, the grocer tapped the bull. It dropped the apple, turned and slowly walked away. The grocer picked up the apple from the street and replaced it on the cart.

Later on, we also visited Agra Fort which is a mighty construction on the banks of the Yamuna river, further along from Taj Mahal. The fort's moat used to be infested with crocodiles. Emperor Shah Jahan was also imprisoned in the fort until his death.

The contradictions of India are summed up by the photo below, taken just 100m from the Taj Mahal. The dog is cooling off in the open sewer. Jen wanted to take him home – once he'd had a bath!


David said...

The Taj mahal looks beautiful.
Did you stage a famous Princess Di and Prince Charles just for effect?

It really looks like a place of contrasts.

Mood is improving.