the family jewel

10 Nov

Mumtaz Mahal was just 39 when she died during delivery of her 14th child. Because all husbands need to be occupied, and Mahal knew she would not survive childbirth, she asked her beloved husband, the emperor, to build her a monument. So deep was his love for her, and so great was his despair, that he dedicated 22 years and 20,000 laborers to the construction of his monument tribute, the Taj Mahal.

It is the nation’s icon and it is indeed magnificent. Surrounded by four minarets constructed to slightly lean outward in case an earthquake knocked them over they won’t hit the monument (really!) the perfectly symmetrical white marble mausoleum might just be the crown jewel of India.

Mahal’s husband the emperor must have had tremendous foresight. How else would he have known that the thousands of pilgrims, tourists and locals that come to pay respect would have the perfect backdrop of the white marble that the Taj Mahal was built from. The colors of the visitors stand out against the marble like precious stones on a swatch of white velvet. The jewels of India visit the Jewel of India During the day the Taj is alive with the movement of visitors flowing through the building and around its terrace. From each of the four identical sides the semi precious stones that form the inlaid detail provide a nuance of color in the glistening stonework.

It is perhaps at dawn, though, that the Taj Mahal is most majestic. With very few visitors yet, the sun peeks over the horizon and casts a warm light at the precise angle to give the dome three dimensionality. No matter what the time of day, nor what angle one views it from, the Taj is magnificent.

Our experience turned out to be much more than we thought it would be. What began as brief glances to and from Indian families visiting the monument, quickly became a full on photo session with us in their family photos and them in ours. The first handshake, the sparkle in their eyes and the obvious need to connect with us was a warm and welcome surprise. With children in our laps and parents at our sides, we exchanged cameras and laughter. It was so much fun!

How fascinating that a Muslim emperor’s monument to his Hindu wife should still be bringing people together after 500 years.

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2 Responses to “the family jewel”

  1. Janice Yelland November 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    So many of us only “know” about this culture from our media and the news that our government wants us to know. How delightful to know and appreciate another culture through caring and thoughtful hearts and minds. If only we could all take a moment and remember that another culture so different than ours has so much to offer us. Keep your photos and insights coming.

  2. richard cohen November 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    It seems as if the people of India have warmed your hearts and have made you feel
    welcomed. That must be a nice feeling since you are all so far from home in a strange land.
    Best to all

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