There is a strange feeling of goodness that strikes my heart every time I visit the Taj Mahal. While most of my friends have complained of the dingy dirty lanes that lead up to this monument of love and the long serpentine queues that snake all its way to the entrance, I have somehow been able to rise above the mundane and managed to remain oblivious to the surroundings. As I trudged on through the rigors of the entry process paraphernalia (namely security checks and bag searches) I could feel myself thirsting for the first glimpse of the marble dome. It is a thirst that always parches my throat when I enter its portals and is not satiated till I traverse its perimeter and soak in the peace it enfolds.
The thirst, I realized, is to be good again. When you behold the Taj Mahal, you should disregard your reservations based on the stories you have read on the pages of history. You should push aside all your erstwhile analysis of the King, cruel enough to have killed or maimed the artisans who built this edifice. You should rather believe in the little square inch of goodness in his heart that despite all his evils made him love someone so deeply to have envisaged this vision of eternal beauty. You should believe in the purity and creativity residing in the heart of the architect who could translate the emperor’s vision into this amazing reality. The real beauty of the Taj can be really and truly appreciated if you surrender yourself to these thoughts.
The massive courtyard on which the main monument stands is bordered by the Yamuna. The river which once roared and raged around the lover’s eternal sleeping chamber is today reduced to a dirty and dark canal. There is hardly a semblance of its lustrous past for posterior to revere. Nevertheless, it still flows on to remind us of the need to help it revive its youth in order to renew the charms of an era long gone. It is yet another reminder for us to be good once again.
As you look across the Yamuna, you notice the towering peaks of the Agra Fort. The bastion reminds you of a dynasty who were once rulers but were one day reduced to beggars. You realize that it happened all and only because somewhere during their long and illustrious ruling years they lost their goodness. As you look towards the ornamental balconies of the fort, you can almost feel the pain that was reflected in the eyes of the monarch who having lost his all, begs his own son to allow him the only respite from his ignominy – the chance to be close to his beloved and ruminate on his lost goodness.
As you walk up the stairs to visit the royal tombs, you will be amazed at the beauty of the intricate carvings elaborately etched across every wall, arch, minaret and column. The carvings are both floral and geometric making them ample fodder for an architect’s discourse. When I look at these carvings I wonder at the little thoughts and yearnings that must have gone into creating these little pieces of history. Undoubtedly, the artisan who made these is as relevant an aspect of our past as the king who ordered them. Without him probably, the monarch would never have been immortalized thus. Such absolute masterpieces reveal volumes on the artisan’s background. That is the part of history which the Taj Mahal proudly unfolds and history books abjectly ignores. That is the kind of goodness that the Taj helps us unravel in our hearts.
Taj Mahal, a beauty etched in marble is an architect’s delight. For me, however, it is also an edifice that emanates emotions that I never knew I was capable of experiencing. For me the Taj will always remain the unquenchable thirst that I need to visit again and again till I feel satiated.