Much has been said about the sense organs. They have been percieved as the cause for the downfall of mankind. I do not believe in this. I feel that the sensory organs are our best gift and that they are the window to knowing good and bad things. They give us feelings and emotions that cannot be obtained through any yoga or any such things.
Why the hell am I talking about sensory perceptions? I experienced a host of emotions on May 8, 2007 when I was at the Taj Mahal. I think its worth sharing that experience.
TRAVEL TO THE WONDER
Despite a delayed start, I was very excited about going to Agra to see the Taj. I had wanted to go since I was a kid. I was chatting all the way in the car.
It took a good 4 hours from Gurgaon. From the outer, one could either take a tonga or an electric car upto a certain point. From there I had to walk for 5 minutes to reach the ticketing counter. There was no queue and Venkat uncle got us tickets. I went inside through the big gate, got checked by metal detectors and physically. That done, I reached the inner corridor. There was a plaque there that gave me the history of the Taj. It is a must read for every Indian. Some parts have been shaded to keep out controversy but it is definitely readable. I did not read it then but I took photos of it. Then, I proceeded in through the ‘darwaza’. The entry darwaza in itself was a grand piece. It is a typical Islamic darwaza. Once I entered through the darwaza, I could see the Taj. It looked splendid. I could imagine how ShahJahan would have felt walking through the gate. The perfect symmetry of The Taj was visible through the arch. It was a treat!!
A TREAT TO THE SENSES
Then, I reached the clearing. I had to control my urge to keep clicking my camera. I kept quiet for one minute. It took me that minute to understand what made The Taj a wonder. It felt good to know that there was one man in history who could reciprocate properly to his wife’s love. I was overwhelmed by ShahJahan’s commitment and love. He had overseen the construction and been involved in it for over a decade and a half. He had made sure that his wife got his love even after she died. No man has done it before him, no one will ever do it after. In a world where men hardly remember their wives even when she is alive, this man is for sure a marvel. He gave design to his feelings and made sure that it (his love) would never be forgotten. What he created was definitely a wonder. It felt nice to be in such a place.
Some were saying that she was not his only wife, that he was not her first husband. They couldnt sense the good feelings. They had to get the bad ones. God help them!! I felt that in their religion (and in those days) these things were commonplace. All that mattered to me was he loved her like no other man has loved his wife and he had remained devoted to the love they shared even after her death. Hats Off to ShahJahan!!
By talking so much about ShahJahan, I am not taking away anything from the architect who created this wonder. I admired his genius, I admired his creativity and I was awestruck by his managerial capacity. More than 10000 people had worked every day for this over a period of 16 years. How those people were fed and how he managed all of them is intriguing. Great managers these days are unable to manage a team of more than 10. Pity!!
His genius is visible in many places. It is said that ShahJahan beheaded the architect. When summons came for the architect from the Emperor, he sensed he would die. He left many things unfinished and untold. No one till date has been able to find out how to make the fountains in front of The Taj work. No one has been able to figure out why he created some structures around The Taj. The story of how he was selected is even more interesting. It seems all those who appeared for selection were given the picture of a hand of a lady. From the hand, they had to draw the picture of the lady. This guy drew it to perfection it seems. What a talent!! Pity he was beheaded!!
I have seen better architecture in many other places but no other place has so much of love. No other place shows the depth of a husband’s love for his wife. No other place gives even half the importance for love as does The Taj. I feel that love cannot be better displayed.
Standing there and inching closer into the Taj, I could see the love visibly in front of my eyes. Once inside, I saw their graves. ShahJahan even respected his wife. He made sure that the entrance was low in height, so he would bow every time he entered to see her grave. Inside was the beautiful polychrome art. It was fantastic.
I do not know whose idea it was but the reverberating echoes were really nice. I yelled Hello and could hear it again and again. Perhaps ShahJahan would tell Mumtaz’s name. I guess he enjoyed calling out her name. The inside also had tall balconies and ventilation. It was very dark and photography was prohibited. The carvings were exquisite. I went twice inside.
I touched the marble with my hands and stroked it. Some said it was dirty. It was, because of the pathetic maintenance. But I felt that marbles reflected the purity of his love, especially white marbles. Nice taste ShahJahan had!! Touch the marbles – you can feel it. It was great!!
No shops or such were around and no eatables were allowed inside except baby food. All that was there was the sweet scent and taste of love.
I could see in the minarets, in the design outside of The Taj, the fine blend of Hindu and Islamic art. ShahJahan was a liberal monarch and the influence of the existing art culture in India is prominent.
PAIN AT THE TAJ
The only official world wonder from India is woefully maintained. Tears of blood would come to anyone who sees the stagnant water and the yellowing stones. I nearly cried as I saw the Yamuna. What was once a flowing river is now no more than a canal. It was painful. Why the dash cant the minister for tourism realize this and use atleast 10% of the funds he gets for maintenance? The rest 90% he can eat.
Needless to say, I took photos at almost every step. I had my photos taken as well.
If you are reading this line, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Agra with your loved ones and treat your senses. It is worth going to The Taj – monetarily and mentally.
Even with the pains mentioned above, this monument exudes love. Be there and experience the ONLY feeling that drives the commercial world, the feeling that evokes more emotion than any other – LOVE.