“Did you ever build a castle in the air? Here is one, brought down to earth and fixed for the wonder of ages.”
– Bayard Taylor.
The last day of Emma’s visit to India was very delightful as well as a very pleasant surprise. Emma, her husband Aiden and her daughter Autumn reached their destination. As they were stepping down from the van, Emma noticed lots of small to medium size shops on both the sides of the road displaying different types of souvenirs, colorful bangles, silver and gold color anklets studded with stones, pretty dresses, saris, and various types of wall paintings. She adjusted her hair, then dug into her elegant tote for her sunglasses. She pulled out both the sunglass and a small tube of sunscreen. After re-applying the sunscreen she reached over to give the tube to Autumn. Aiden turned around and asked both Autumn and Emma to cross the road carefully as he was looking at the street. It was very busy and crowded with cars, buses, trucks, autos, pedestrians, stray dogs and, not to ignore the main boss of the street, the cows. Emma chuckled seeing the sleepy cows in the middle of the street and the desperate driver trying to scare the cows off of the street. She crossed the road with Autumn, and smiled to see the reaction on Autumn’s face. There was a long line for tickets and the security check. As they were entering through the main gate, Emma noticed that the outside noises slowly faded away, and then they were enveloped in to tranquility. She glanced at the beautiful main gate, a large three story high structure made of red sandstone. Through the crowd, Emma, her husband and Autumn made their way to a stone platform overlooking the ground and peered out straight to catch the glimpse of the majestic view and could not help but gasp at the sight that met them.
They stood breathless and mesmerized. At first sight, chills came upon them. Rising up towards the clouds, the magnificent monument pierced the blue sky. It looks like a delicate fairytale castle from a movie or a storybook. The stunning, captivating eighth wonder of the world, the famous Taj Mahal!
Taj Mahal stands on the southern bank of Yamuna River, in Agra, India. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal passed away after her fourteenth delivery, leaving the Emperor in deep sorrow. The Emperor decided to build an everlasting memorial for his cherished wife. His wife’s casket rests inside this monument. The mausoleum complex of white marble, built over more than twenty years with the hard work of 20,000 workers, portrays the astounding Mughal architecture. The glorious view of the mosque and the guest house on the sides, and most of all, the main mausoleum in the center with four minarets standing proudly at each corner.
Emma with Aiden and Autumn climbed down from the stairs and walked into the ornamental garden. They looked around and notice that the entire garden was divided into four parts with two marble canals studded with fountains crossing in the center and lined with Cypress trees and different flower beds. The garden seemed more lively with the birds flying overhead, the soft flowing water in the pool glinting in the sunlight and a light November breeze rustling gently through the trees. Suddenly Autumn stopped and showed her parents the raised marble lotus tank with a cusped and trefoil border in the middle of the garden. There are twenty four fountains adorning this pond from the four sides. Emma noticed that there was a big crowd around the pond. So they walked closer to the pool, bend down to look, and then stopped. The reaction of the crowd was noticeable. Everyone was starting with their big eyes and mouths half open. Emma adjusted her glasses, and then drew a breath, as she saw the beautiful reflection of Taj Mahal dancing softly on the pool water. Then she and her family slowly meandered through the garden looking at various flowers and different trees. The garden ended at the base of the mausoleum.
Emma and Autumn climbed up the narrow stairs to see the main chamber, the central dome which is framed by a central arch. Emma noticed how the central marble dome is planted on a huge white marble terrace that itself is centered on a high red stone base, topped by a large dome, arched balconies stacked on either side. Four minarets frame the casket, one at each corner forming a symmetrical design. The chamber has false caskets for display, protecting the actual caskets of both Mumtaz Mahal and the Emperor which lay below at the garden level. Autumn leaned against the wall and took out her camera from her black handbag. She was impressed with the geometrical design of the floor with the black marble inlaid in white, making it very pretty. Emma tried squeezing through the crowd to take pictures of the intricately carved marble screen around the caskets, but it was not an easy task. She moved away from there to the other end and tipped her head to look closely at the semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers inlaid delicately on the rest of the surfaces of the wall. And they too were very pretty and elegantly designed.
It was almost noon. Emma walked outside to the terrace to take a stroll. The white marble was dazzling in the sunlight. She opened her blue handbag, pulled out the water bottle for a sip, and then took out her sunglasses. The reflection of sunlight on the white marble was hard on Emma’s eyes. With the sunglasses it was easy for her to see the beautifully carved flower designs and calligraphy at the arched entrance to the mausoleum, while Autumn was busy taking pictures with her dad. Inside the mausoleum, Autumn was astounded to see the glittering globe with convex mirrors and chandeliers that hang from the ceiling, the beautiful walls which were embedded with calligraphy, floral designs, and carvings and inlaid with semiprecious stones. Emma overheard the tourist guide telling the group that how the shimmering white marble of Taj Mahal change color depending on the sunlight or moonlight hitting its surface and it looks more beautiful in the moonlight.
It was almost evening when Emma and her family finished touring the mausoleum. As they came out from the compound Emma looked back again to the divine beauty, an apostle of love and was delighted of having this magical tour with her family.
“It is the perfect pearl on an azure ground.”- Hodges.