One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal, in its gleaming white marble and semiprecious Indian stones bathed in the “sky blue pink” of the dawn. Even more beautiful is the story of the love of the Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz after she gave birth to his fourteenth child while traveling in the countryside with her husband. Mumtaz was buried in the country where she died in 1631. Her husband began the the construction of her tomb in 1632 and was completed 16 years later in 1648 when his beloved favorite wife was laid to rest in her tomb. This dramatic mausoleum is considered the “jewel of Muslim Art in India.” It is one of the wonders of the world and has millions of visitors from around the world each year.
The students said that they had been asked over and over if they had seen the Taj, and now would be able to answer in the affirmative! The Taj is a universal symbol of India. When we were there a few days ago, it was evident that security has was much ramped up from our visit in 2013. Parking is in lots very far from the wall and entrance. There is a metal detector and bags are searched and patted down. This is the letter of the law for foreigners and Indians alike.One new restriction was that the students could not take pens and their sketch books! They were all excited to draw and had started as we stood on the river bank opposite the Taj to watch the sunrise early in the morning. It was a crushing blow for them not to be able to document their visit with a sketch. It was explained that India wants to protect the beautiful marble from initials written in the buildings. Already a restriction in 2013 was no water or food allowed. This we were glad of because there is no trash and the site is pristine. Some of the students last trip stayed from early morning and stayed without food or water for the whole day. . . . . filming , shooting images, and of course sketching! If you leave , you need to buy another ticket for reentry and at 750 rupees which is roughly $12.50. We were so looking forward to having dinner on a rooftop restaurant in Agra as the light faded to dankness and enveloped the Taj. Much to our disappointment, the government had closed those restaurants on the roofs for protection for the visitors! Just more rights taken away in a democracy. . . . for our own good. These rights removed in these circumstances never seem to be returned to the people. It seems this is happening everywhere, and I for one am not happy. Freedom of choice and freedom of the press in editing news such as India forbidding the documentary of “India’s Daughter” is stopped to prevent violence in the streets. These are rights that are an integral part of democracy. . . . is is slowly slipping away?
Previous post on the Taj for those of you who might want to see it.
This Is Incredible India!