Taj Mahal - Unending Intrigue, Part 1
[This is the first part of a journey to the Taj Mahal]
I have been to the Taj Mahal many times. I usually never miss a chance to visit this tomb. Along with Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal never ceases to wonder me. I have seen the mausoleum in the slanting orange rays of the setting Autumn sun, I have seen it in the misty and dewy mornings of North Indian winter. I have seen rains lashing against its minarets from a grey sky above, I have seen dark clouds conjoin into a speeding sand storm around its pillars, and I have seen it in the soft sunshine under a clear blue sky in spring. But never before yesterday did I see the Taj Mahal in the sharp simmering noon of peak summer.
[Photo: Wikimedia Commons, author Yann, edit by King of Hearts]
The guide told us right at the time when we were mounting the tonga that he would charge us double the usual price. We protested vehemently because we were expecting an off season discount. But the guide reasoned out and said after looking at the sky, “have you seen the scenery above”, where beams of the unrelenting sun was raining merciless solar heat on our skulls. We quickly agreed to him on the condition that he would explain things selectively and conclude our tour in half an hour flat. We had among us persons for whom this was the first sight of the Taj and the guide had to really do a job compressing the tour of the tomb so that the bare essentials could be chafed out from those details that suit a more congenial weather.
The Taj never fails to rejuvenate me through its suddenness of appearance. The monument is invisible from the outer gates but as one moves in through the gates into the inner spaces, one can slowly see the Taj bit by bit until it suddenly shocks you by opening up in its full splendour. The guide tells us that the pillars of the Taj tilt slightly outwards and this is because its architect felt that should there be an earthquake the pillars must not fall on the structure but could crash out on the other side thus saving the main edifice. The pillars are regular cylinders but appear conical to the naked eye because of their height. The letters of the Koran appear all around the arch progressively increase in size so that when seen from the ground they appear all of the same size.