Chennai Journal
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Travels North--The Taj Mahal

Nothing prepares you for the Taj Mahal. The picture shown here, proving that Marty, Harry, Roberta and I were there, is but a prosaic representation of the testament of love, called by one writer "a tear on the face of eternity", that attracts visitors from all over the world. It's truly awe inspiring.

We arrived in Agra at night, and rose before daybreak to visit the Taj at dawn--and to watch its hues and colors unfold over the next three hours or so. Like other visitors, I probably have a hundred photos from various angles, but all of us also took time just to enjoy the experience of being there. Later in the day, we viewed it from across the river, enshrouded in a gentle mist that had descended over the city.

So many words have been written that there are few that I can add, but I think what makes the Taj Mahal so compelling, in addition to its great beauty, is the sense of the emotion, sacrifice and sheer logistics in its creation that seems still to permeate the place. The passion of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj as a tribute to his dead wife, the genius of the architect whose hands were cut off so he could not duplicate his feat, the 20,000 men, many of them skilled stonecarvers who had to be brought from Iran to labor for 20 years--the Taj was created by the love, intelligence, sweat and brutality of men, but there also seems to be a spark of the divine in a thing of such beauty.

From Agra we went to Keoladeo National Park where we spent a peaceful morning bird watching on the waters and woods of the park and then to Jaipur. From Jaipur we drove back to Delhi where Marty and Roberta returned to Chennai and Harry and I went to Trivandrum to the Somatheeram Ayurvedic Resort--more on these in the next post.

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