10 September 2013
“Agra Fort, a huge structure of around 52 acres and now around 25% of it exists, chunk of it got destroyed during the British rule. It’s a fort cum palace built by Akbar for his wives.” The tour guide was continuing in his monotonous tone, but I looked around seeing the splendor of the fort. Also, it made me to wonder how hard it would be to build an enormous structure like this during that time.
But there was this stinking smell coming out of the water surrounding the fort and it was a damper of sorts while entering the fort. Why can’t the authorities preserve it well? But the thoughts soon vanished as we entered inside the fort. There’s lawn inside which was greenish and viewing points from the top of the fort. And we climbed a flight of stairs to get to the top of one of the fort and from there we could see the Wonder. The Wonder of the World. And here it is the monument which I had heard from my childhood as the most beautiful structure. Standing afar by the banks of the river, Yamuna. Awestruck I stood watching the Taj. The symbol of love.
And it took some time to come out of the top of the fort as me along with my friends was busy taking snaps from all the angles possible. And it took us some time for us to come down as the excitement of seeing Taj for the first time took all of us in for a high. And our tour co-od had to persuade us to get us from the top of the fort. But since our next destination was the Taj itself, so we fully adhered to the co-od’s cajoling.
As we came down the stairs, we saw the jail where Shah Jahan was held captive by his own son Aurangazeb. And Shah Jahan’s only wish was to see the Taj always till he died. Was sad to hear this but it couldn’t lessen our spirits as our next stop was the Taj itself.
We all had to go through a thorough security check, though it was time consuming it was worth the wait, in few minutes we will be seeing the Taj in its full glory. Coming out of the security checks we had to walk a few distances into the main area. And elderly people took the battery-operated cabbies, like the ones you see in golf courses (They don’t allow fuel operated as the smoke emitted affects the white marble of the Taj). We had to go through a fort to enter the Taj. And the fort has inscriptions in Arabic on the sides which goes on till the top of the fort. The font at the top and at the below looks similar but it’s not. Our guide quipped. He said the font size goes on increasing as it goes up, but from down it looks all same, its due to optical illusion. And Taj is a place of Optical illusion and an architectural marvel.
The top of fort has 11 domes in front and another 11 in the back and it signifies the 22 years of hard work which had gone to build this structure. And as we walked through the fort, the surrounding was dark and in front stands the white marble piece. It looked the same, the same we all see in the pictures. In front was the fountain which is linear in shape and slab benches all around. I looked around there were Indians and foreigners too, in large numbers and everyone was in awe and clicking pictures. And we too clicked pics and the mandatory Group Taj Photo. As we posed for this photo, none of us would have thought that this picture is going to be one of the most revered and loved photograph in coming years. The Groupie of our EEE Batch of MCET 2010-14.
Our guide reminded that it’s been some time and we haven’t even actually entered the Taj. The guide gathered us and began “The Taj was built by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz who passed away while delivering their 14th child. And she was one of his many wives.” I had a question why Shah Jahan didn’t build another Taj. Or why Mumtaz was so special among his other wives.
Taj has two forts on its sides facing the Taj. We walked past the fountain and the seating slabs. And we had to wear a plastic cover over our footwears, it’s to protect the marble from getting damaged. “The Taj is built on a wooden base (of teak) and the base is always moistened by Yamuna which is flowing underneath. And the minaret on the corners have a tilt of 2degrees to the out, which cannot be identified by human eye. And if an earthquake strikes, due to the inclination and its built the minaret will fall out, not to the inside of Taj. And You can see the tomb of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan inside, though the structure can be seen the actual remains is deep below. The grave tomb on top is just symbolic. And, there was a plan to construct a black Taj Mahal after Shah Jahan’s death, but Aurangazeb thought that would be a waste of money and that idea didn’t see the light of the day. But we can see the vast space for this planned structure, which is just across the Yamuna.” He finished his rehearsed verbatim.
We climbed the stairs by the side of the minaret to reach the Taj and we walked on the Taj. We touched the marbles on side, the minaret. And we entered inside. It was bit dark and there were the two tombs. Though the inside of the Mahal was a closed structure there was a continuous flow of air and it made the place so cool. I walked around awestruck seeing the inside and came out. It was one of the best experience in my life. I was so happy. I called home. I was feeling of having accomplished something. I walked around being pious as if it’s a temple. At the back, Yamuna flows without making a sound and a lush green lawn is spread between the Taj and the river. Also, we saw the place where the supposed black Taj Mahal was planned.
Awesome, beautiful, magnificent all superlatives are a suitable fit in for Taj, but none of those superlatives would be enough to tell the world the real experience of Taj. And no wonder why it’s called One of the Wonders of the world. I would like to visit it again and again like a temple, a church, a mosque until my prayers are fulfilled.
This is a rehashed part of the tour travelogue which I had written, courtesy a friend, while in college.
I had written the travelogue the very night after the day’s tour had ended.
While making the travelogue as a standalone blog piece, I had to edit out few portions and the places where I had mentioned my friends. As those who couldn’t find place in this piece would have a feeling of being left out. But I have compensated for it by including the Groupie picture of all my friends.
About the ending note, I have retained the original ending of my travelogue for that day. As I wanted others to know the bit of geekiness I carried during my college days.
A Travelogue and now A Memoir Written by
Gautham Jayan GopiKrishna