The Taj Mahal, India – The Smug Monday Series, Ep. 8
Monday wasn’t actually very smug at all, it was actually pretty rubbish. We spent eight hours in a car driving to Pushkar, and then spent another hour and a half listening to daddy have arguments about rubbish hotels. A few days later though, we arrived at Agra…
We have now been to the Taj Mahal. It’s a huge white mausoleum located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India. A mausoleum is another word for a tomb, like the pyramids Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as the tomb of his favourite of his three wives, Mumtaz Mahal. He loved her so much that he wanted to build the most beautiful building in the whole world in her memory. It took around 20,000 stone masons and artists 21 years and 52,800,000,000 Indian rupees (£522,771,760 in today’s money) to build the Taj Mahal. The engineers got inspiration from Humayun’s tomb. It’s in Delhi and that’s where we started our adventures in India.
The first time we saw the Taj Mahal it was from across the river at Mehtabh Bagh. This place was rumoured to be whereabouts Shah Jahan began building a black Taj Mahal which was to be his mausoleum, but does not exist as his eldest son (he had 14 kids!) forced him off the throne and locked him in jail. He also took down the black Taj Mahal at the same time. He did this because making the black Taj Mahal was slowly making Agra’s money run out.
We got up at 6:30 in the morning to go to the Taj Mahal and we were dropped at the gates 5 minute’s walk away from the Taj. On our way we saw some blinged-up camels pulling carts full of tourists. When we went through the next gate there was a security check and then a court yard that stretched for about 100m square. There were four gates, one leading to the Taj Mahal. As we walked through the gate the Taj Mahal loomed out the archway and we had our first full view of the breathtaking grounds and the soaring minarets. One of the minarets was shrouded in scaffolding as several workers were pounding the pure white marble with cleaning instruments. As we wandered around the sides of the Taj there was a huge red sandstone mosque concealed from the prying eyes of the people walking through the gate by trees. Once we entered the Taj Mahal, it was even more beautiful than the outside. The marble was inlaid with semi-precious stones and was even more intricate than the outside. We saw one guide take out a small torch which he used to light up the stones as he touched them with the torch. Two marble plinths stood surrounded by complicated symmetrical marble latticework screens right in the heart of the Taj Mahal – they were supposed to hold the ashes of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz, but apparently, these are buried far underground below the Taj. I think, altogether, it was an awesome trip to Agra and that Indians are really good architects and that it’s amazing what people will do for love.
Can I just say that Agra is mad? Even our Indian driver Joni thought it was mad, and he lives in Delhi! You get people reversing up dual carriageways and driving their horses next to over sized vehicles. There are cows everywhere, and it’s a chaotic and noisy place.