Taj Mahal – When the World Stopped
Everyone has heard of Taj Mahal – as a wonder of the world, or as monument of Love. If not this then as a building with exquisite marble work. I too started hearing about it when I was a kid, through books, TV or general interaction with elders. There was a curiosity to see it but it being close to our place it always got put off – next time we will see for sure. Decades past and next time never came.
By the time I grew up Taj Mahal faded into my memory due to excessive exposure of pictures and general chit chat here and there making me believe that something I have not seen but have fully seen. After all it is a building only at the end of the day. Having seen pictures from different angles, and zooms, I had not been able to establish a sense of its size. I assumed just like another size which should be.
Then came my road trip on my bullet, or as I affectionately call it bullt (Royal Enfield). Those who have spent some time in India will know what Bullet is. And those who have done road trip would have ridden it.
Taj Mahal – My First View
Agra was my fifth stop instead of originally fourth on my route but it took me almost two weeks to reach their thanks to my extended stay in Rishikesh which was last minute inclusion just before leaving Haridwar. Instead of stopping for three days as thought of, I stayed there for nine nights! Anyhow, I reached Agra tolerating the Indian summer heat which had just started though my stomach was already showing its rebellion to my trip in summers. I had to rest for two days before I could move else I thought I would be putting my trip in jeopardy. On third day to take it light and make my recovery more durable and lasting, I decided to see Taj Mahal from one of the famed restaurant top views. I had read and re-read internet and lonely planet book to be sure where to go, which is the best restaurant, how to locate it etc etc to cause least trouble and disappointment to me. I reached Taj Ganj, found out the road, started to walk. Realizing it might be getting darker earlier than expected, I walked fast. It was some distance from where I had got down from auto and fearing I might be late to see Taj, I walked fast, just stopping myself from sprinting. When I reached the place, I asked the two guys – restaurant to see Taj is upstairs? They nodded and I again sprinted up. After climbing three floors, as soon as I came on the roof top I looked around for Taj and then just stopped. I don’t know how long I was like that. Fully absorbed, focused, concentrated not concerned what is happening in my surrounding. The ideal wish state of parents and teachers for their kids / students while studying which is never achieved. I was seeing the Taj.
The sunset had started and light was falling on Taj from one direction. In the fading light, the whiteness of Marble was glowing. I just could not be bothered to do anything else but to see a pure white glowing massive building which appeared so close as if I am standing right in front of it and not half a kilometer or more away. I probably looked at it for a minute or more till I was tapped on the shoulder – excuse me please. Apparently the waiter was waiting for me to step aside and give him way, but I had seen him nor heard him. And why should I? In front of me was a massive building visible from such great distance as if I am there making people look like ants. How can they build such huge buildings just to bury the bodies? The artwork and engravings on marble was nothing less than exquisite. The appeal to eyes was simply amazing, as if the creator knew what eyes and mind want. I sat at the table nearest to the roof edge to keep on getting an unobstructed view. I ordered a cold coffee and French Fries. With my eyes glued at Taj to get the last glimpses before it became too dark and thinking – Now these things cannot be built. Everyone is so practical these days and seems to have lost the art of living. Plus cost? Yeah that will figure too plus lack of open spaces. With my eyes content, but stomach not I left restaurant for another thinking tomorrow I will get up-close and personal with it.
Tomorrow has not come. I saw Taj Mahal again from Agra Fort and from Mehtab Bagh, both times equally awestruck and mesmerizing. I have not technically visited Taj Mahal yet. Next time I will see for sure 😀