Where is the Taj Mahal?
The story of the Taj Mahal, the monument dedicated to love, symmetry and perfection, is well known throughout India. The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, a city 206 km south of New Delhi. Agra is part of what is called the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is a tourist circuit connecting New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The Golden Triangle
It is a very common route among travelers. It begins with a visit to the capital. Then go south to see the Taj Mahal and then west to Jaipur to see the deserts of Rajasthan. We wanted to go first to the north and then to the west of India and descend the Rajasthan so we took a different route.
We had been told that a quick go and return visit to Agra was enough, so to go faster we rented the services of a private taxi. A quick trip to Agra was enough for us.
It is only when you get to Agra that you realize that it is an important tourist destination with millions of travelers a year. Everyone who comes to India wants to visit the mausoleum. However, what was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1556 and 1658, also preserves many other monuments of the time.
Of course, the Taj Mahal stands out, but you can also visit the Red Fort, very similar to the Delhi Fort. The Mausoleum of Itamad-Ud-Daulah, considered as “the little Taj“. And, if you still don’t have enough, the Tomb of Akbar the Great, a complex of gardens and buildings also famous for its beautiful Mughal architecture.
The story of the Taj Mahal; a love story
The Taj Mahal is a funerary monument located on the banks of the Yamuna River. The mausoleum is mainly made of marble. It was built between 1632 and 1654 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The story of the Taj Mahal tells that they met when he was 15 and she was 14. However, they had to wait until she reached the age of 19 (1612) to get married as the court astrologers predicted that it was the right date for a happy marriage.
He was his first wife and was so taken with her that he gave her the title of Mumtaz Mahal, which means “The Chosen One of the Palace“. Although Emperor Shah Jahan married three times to create alliances and increase the power of his empire, he was never interested in his other three wives. So much so that Mumtaz Mahal was the mother of all his children.
Mumtaz Mahal was a woman of character, beautiful, gracious and compassionate to those most in need. She died in childbirth of her fourteenth child in 1631 A.D. (after 19 years of marriage). The following year the construction of the Taj Mahal began and it would take 22 years to be completed.
The story of the Taj Mahal; symmetry, perfection and wonder of the modern world
In 2017 the Taj Mahal entered the exclusive list of the new 7 wonders of the modern world as far as monuments are concerned. The whole complex is meticulously constructed looking for absolute symmetry. Once you cross the front door everything is so perfect it doesn’t look real. It looks more like one of those pictures that you can’t help but stare at.
The gateway is parallel to the Taj Mahal and the Yamuna River perpendicular. The buildings on the sides of the mausoleum are identical and the water channels reflect the buildings producing an additional effect to the symmetry and divide the gardens into perfect squares. Everything is in harmony.
In fact, the only element that breaks with symmetry is the tomb of Sha Jahan. It was later placed next to the tomb of his wife who rests right in the middle of the Taj Mahal.
It is said that at the end of the gigantic architectural work of the Taj Mahal, the emperor had the hands of the architects and decorators cut off so that no other work like it would ever be built. Although it is a hypothesis, it seems that it was a fairly common practice at that time.
Buses from Delhi to Rishikesh
In Agra, we only had time to visit the Taj Mahal, but we were still more than satisfied. Once the visit was over, our friendly taxi driver took us back to New Delhi.
During the trip, to our surprise, he invited us to his nephew’s wedding. He was getting married in two weeks in a village in northern India. Precisely not far from where we had planned to travel. Without a doubt it seemed like a unique experience, one of those that if you miss the opportunity does not reappear. So we gratefully accepted the invitation.
We arrived in Delhi at night, just to rest for a while and go out to look for the bed bus that departed at one o’clock at night in the direction of Rishikesh. We bought the bus ticket at Makemytrip.com, an Indian online travel company very useful for getting around the country. Rishikesh is a sacred city where the Ganges River flows and a popular destination for learning yoga and meditation.
Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.
– Bob Dylan –