Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Forever and for everyone

We all know the Taj Mahal as an amazing feat of architecture and one of the seven wonders of the world. But, in spite of its size, views of the Taj sneak up on you. Our first night in Agra, we visited the Red Fort of Agra. It was just before closing, but our guide took time to explain all of the ways the fort was protected. From a moat filled with alligators to (what I call) the Indiana Jones’ ball that can be rolled down main entrance, it is a spectacular. After we were lead us through the entrance, very causally he said, “And to your right, you can see the Taj Mahal.”


The Taj is an amazing building, but the story is even more amazing. The Mughal emperor, Shah Jehan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal had a dream she was going to die in child birth. So, she made Shah Jehan promise three things:

1. To never marry again
2. To take care of her parents
3. To build her a special mausoleum.

He kept all three. His love for his wife lead him to spend the next 22 years building the Taj Mahal. Everything is perfectly symmetrical and painstakingly handmade. The designs on the walls are not just for decoration. They are meant to show that all are welcomed. Religious symbols from Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism can be found. What is written across the entrance is the phrase, “Forever, for everyone.”

Shah Jehan wanted to build an exact copy of the Taj across the river as his mausoleum. But, his son imprisoned him in the Fort and only the foundation was laid. Shah Jehan was only able to view the Taj from his room at the Red Fort, the Jasmine Room.

The Taj Mahal is Forever and For everyone.

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