Upon taking a trip to India, the Taj Mahal was certainly on my mind for one of the main attractions that I wanted to gaze my eyes upon. I will tell you, the thing that makes this impeccable structure such an amazing experience is not just the mausoleum itself, but the intensity of religious practice that dominated my senses as soon as I entered this magical city. The city of Agra where the Taj Mahal was built, seems to revolve around it. Religion in India is such a powerful entity.
A green zone surrounding the wonder of the world protects it from pollution so it’s an escape from the absolute madness of every other part of India. My room for the night was set deep in the green zone, and within walking distance to the entry point of the Taj Mahal. I arrived to my room late afternoon, after a sort of Mad Max styled bus journey from Delhi and decided that I would wait until the break of dawn to visit in order to miss out on the masses of tourists that might ruin the experience. Across the road was a small very well-preserved nature park with wooded walks and well kept lawns. I decided to pay the small entry fee and wander off the main road to the Taj Mahal and get into nature for the evening.
Strolling along through the trees here opened up to an elevated grass lawn which took my eyes over a sprawling forest that stretched for miles. At the end of this forest on the horizon, was my first sight of the Taj Mahal, which just poked out over the top of the trees in the distance. I was in love. It just looked insane on in the horizon slightly shrouded by the hundreds of trees that stood before it. I simply could not wait until the morning. It felt as if it was calling for me to go there immediately.
I turned my head away from the beautiful scene of the Taj Mahal over the forest and directed myself back to the road and began walking towards what would be a momentous experience. Everyone knows about the Taj Mahal, mostly from pictures, but it’s impossible to fully gauge how meaningful it is to see in person after experiencing the religious sights, sounds and smells of Agra and the rest India beforehand. Pictures aren’t even close to interpreting the sheer size and beauty of this Religious masterpiece. They really don’t do it any justice whatsoever.
To really understand the power of emotion I felt here, all you have to do before you enter the grounds is learn about the love story behind it. An Indian emperor named Shan Jahan was the man behind this wonder of the world. Seventeen years of construction was dedicated to the memory of his wife. The architects were murdered after the completion to ensure that it couldn’t be replicated anywhere in the world. It is a symbol of the pure love he had for this woman who died during childbirth. The love he had for his wife, in order to build this ridiculously expensive marble mausoleum, must have been unwavering. That’s what made this experience so special upon seeing it for the first time. I felt like I had harnessed at least the essence of the love this emperor had for his wife.
It really is one of the most epic buildings I have ever had the honour of stepping foot inside. The grounds surrounding the Taj Mahal are vast and seem to shroud the main attraction with a series of other constructions and gateways, rife with the presence of monkeys. It created a build up of emotion inside me that was released upon entering through the final gate. Considering it was built in the 17th century, it really is in remarkable condition. The white marble bricks are still glimmering and the size compared to my impression from pictures was shocking. Birds encircled the gigantic dome at the top and given the size of the circle they were flying, exemplified how colossal this mosque actually is. The hairs on the back of my neck and arms went up as soon as I went through the final gate and I experienced a feeling of love and beauty that perhaps the emperor once shared with his wife. That is the power of the Taj Mahal. It is truly magical, a place of peace and love. It touched me in a way other wonders of the world such as the Roman Colloseum just didn’t.
I was also surprised by the fact that you can step foot inside the building, where the emperor and his wife’s tomb can be viewed. It means you can actually walk on, in an around the mausoleum and get an up close look at the intricate details of the architecture artwork on both the exterior and interior. The sun was setting at around the time I had left the burial chamber inside and was reflecting exuberantly off the white marble and charming waters of the gardens. This was the pinnacle of my trip to India and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I will wait for a more impressionable experience. The next day, I left the green zone and stayed in rooftop hostel in the heart of the city. Perched on the rooftop that night, I felt an incredible amount of peace in my soul. Listening to the calls of prayer rippling through the city as the skies turned crimson, my love for India and religion was complete.