People who have been in my parents’ house may remember a miniature of the Taj Mahal displayed in the living room cabinet. I think my father had gotten it as a gift from a business partner or friend, don’t remember exactly who. What I do remember though is falling in love with it the moment I laid my eyes on it. The pretty white marble and the love story behind the build of this immense mausoleum absolutely fascinated me. Seeing the real Taj Mahal with my own eyes has been on my wish list ever since and not a day went by without me telling my parents that someday I would walk the white marble of this love shrine.
It’s early in the morning when we make our way through the not yet so busy streets of Agra by bus. I hear the people around me chatting softly while I stare dreamily out the window. The excitement is building, I can’t believe that one of my childhood wishes is about to come true. After years of dreaming about it, I’m finally going to see the real Taj Mahal.
The ground walls are too high and there’s a large crowd at the entrance so I can’t see anything yet. But as soon as I pass security and walk through the gate I see her. There she stands, in a huge garden at the end of two immense pools of water, her radiant white marble sparkling in the sun. The crowd behind me passes by as I stand there for at least half an hour admiring her from afar and taking pictures from every angle I can think of.
When I finally arrive at the white marble steps, I feel like a midget in front of the enormous building in front of me. She certainly is much bigger than I had imagined. And after what I have seen of India so far and of Agra especially, it’s hard to comprehend that the marble is so clean and still beautifully white after all these years.
I roam the marble grounds in awe, admiring every detail of the shrine. The Qur’anic texts, the 99 names of God, the flowers and plants, every decoration engraved on the walls is equally gorgeous. One can certainly understand why it took over 16 years to build. Shah Jahan must have loved his wife very much to build her such a masterpiece. I’m so glad I got to see it live after all this time. The miniature’s now displayed in my sister’s home, but, just like my parents, I take the real world wonder with me in my memory and hart.