A Wonderful sight , The Taj Mahal.
Have you ever saved money for something special?Something to buy or a place to visit.? Something , that means a lot to you. ? e.g. You may dream of seeing the pyramids of Egypt, The Grand Canyon,, but when you get there , you have been disappointed? Felt let down?Not what you expected, therefore an anti-climax after so much waiting?
This happened to me after having a reproduction print of the Mona Lisa on my wall in our hallway at home. For years l wondered if the ´´real thing ´´ would look different.
My husband and l made a trip to Paris and saw the beautiful Palace at Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors is enormous and full of the grandeur l expected.
However the day we chose to visit The Louvre Museum which houses the Mona Lisa, my excitement was mounting lik a child´s as we passed incredible masterpieces one after the other. Finally we arrived at the room where the Mona Lisa hangs.
The huge room looked empty apart from one spot where people had congregated, obviously taking in the beauty of one particular painting. The Mona Lisa.
We walked towards it and as l got close to the painting l found myself staring and rooted to the spot. No! Not in awe of the painting. l was rooted to the spot with shock!. It didn´t matter which way l looked at it, from whatever angle, l had the same reaction. ¨Duh! OK, So what?For a split second l even believed it must be a fake. Something was missing, l just could not see what all the fuss was about. Disappointment hardly describes how l felt. Obviously that was just me ! Other people were raving over the masterpiece.
Thankfully the Louvre is such a magnificent museum with so many fantastic things to see. We had a wonderful day there until our feet would not allow us to walk any further.
My reaction on a visit to India and going to see the Taj Mahal, had the complete opposite effect.. The moment we were inside the gates , with the Taj a long way ahead, l was rooted to the spot. This time in awe , full of admiration and joy at the architecture. The symmetry of the entire building took my breathe away.
Even before getting close to it, from quite a distance, l was overwhelmed. l have never seen such a beautiful building. Even after the many Castles and Palaces that l´d visited in my life, nothing compared to this tomb.! Which is after all what the The Taj Mahal is ..... a mauseleum.
l would have loved the poet in me to have been able to describe the beauty l saw., but l couldn´t. Rudyard Kipling had already called it ¨The embodiment of all that is pure¨. and an Indian poet had described it as Ä teardrop on the face of eternity. ¨¨¨....
We made our way along the esquisite pathway, alongside the glorious lily pond until we reached a set of steps.
Here there were hundreds of pairs of shoes and l noticed everyone took off their shoes, l just couldn´timagine how we´d find our own shoes later on. There didn´t seem to be any particular order about it and there were so many!!! Off with the shoes, l thought out of respect, it is a tomb after all, plus l imagine that gorgeous marble floor would suffer very quickly if high heels were allowed. Millions of visitors every year would ruin it. (One of the funniest things l soon learned about India is that what appears to be chaotic, does work. There was no problem getting the right shoes back later on)
If you ever have the oportunity to visit India, don´t miss out on the Taj Mahal, but l would recommend an official guide for 2 reasons.
The first thing was that our guide talked us through the whole story of the building of this incredible mausoleum. He told us about Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz..
Shah Jahan was so devastated on the death of his beloved 2nd wife, Mumtaz as she gave birth to their 14th child, that it is said his hair turned grey overnight.
Our guide went on to explain that this was why the Shah built such an extravagant memorial to Mumtaz.. Our guide was extremely polite, spoke perfect English and explained anything we asked very competently,
One thing that surprised me was the fact that those perfectly symmetrical (l thought) Minarets at each of the four corners of the building were not perpendicular as l´d thought, but actually they had been purposely built leaning slightly outwards.
The reason for this was that in the event of an earthquake, the minarets would fall outwards and not onto the precious tomb.
As we got closer to the walls of the Taj l could see Arabic writing ..... verses from the Koran, but to my amazement the lovely shiny stones embedded in the marble walls were not shiny glass, but REAL gems. !! Sapphires, Emeralds,.... l could hardly believe it. At this point it crossed my mind that it was not really surprise that the Shahs´hungry people rioted and locked the Shah in prison overlooking his masterpiece. He could see it till the end of his days but his extravagance in spending so many millions of Rupees on the Taj Mahal, while so many of his people lived in severe poverty, cost him his liberty.
The second reason l´d recommend an official guide is he can and will tell you what to avoid near the Taj Mahal once you are outside the gates.
There are some unscrupulous people as there are all over the word. Once one scam has been discovered it is immediately replaced with another. Young men will very forcibly try to put souvenirs into your hands giving stories of the ´history´of what sadly is worthless junk.
You really need to hold onto or hide your wallet for those few yards leading up to the gates.
Having a guide who spoke the local language made me feel we had a body-guard, and as we were not so young when we did this trip, it was the wisest course for us and did not cost to much.
l wouldn´t have missed the visit to such a masterpiece of architecture for anything.
It´s about 5 years since we were there and , still, when l see a picture or something on television about the Taj Mahal... l can see and feel inside me the experience all over again.
It made such an impression on me.
Definitely the most beautiful building l have ever seen. Nothing compares to the ´magic´of the Taj Mahal.
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on October 21, 2012:
Never need to apologise, Epi for missing one of my hubs. I cannot keep up with yours, these days.
I keep trying, though, because they are ALL too good to miss.
I also appreciate you very much as a hubfriend and colleague
Thanks so much for the visit.
epigramman on October 20, 2012:
so sorry I missed this beautiful hub presentation the first time around but I just love the way you write. It is just so natural and easy and just so you - which leads me to think one thing that you are a modern wonder of the world yourself - well at least the hub world - lol - and I am so glad that we met here and that our paths crossed as esteemed colleagues and friends - so here I am wishing you well and sending good energy your way as always from lake erie time canada 6:59pm and thank you for your loyalty and support - I couldn't have made this journey without great people like you ......
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on November 09, 2011:
Hello Cagsil, great to see you here.
Thanks for the comment, yes the Louvre has some amazing sights, with ot without the Mona Lisa, but The Taj........??? WOW!!!!!
Raymond D Choiniere from USA on November 08, 2011:
Hey Dim, thank you for sharing your experience of both, Paris and India. I'm not one for art work, but visiting the Louvre would be a fantastic adventure, regardless of the Mona Lisa. I wouldn't be too interested in that painting, but would enjoy the tour of the Museum. I can also understand your "shock and awe" from the Taj Mahal and I've never seen it, but your description was excellent. Much appreciated. :)
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on November 08, 2011:
Hello sharewhatuknow, Thank you for visiting my hub and leaving such a lovely comment.
The fact that the people turned against the Emperor was new to me too. It was our Indian guide who explained it to us, and pointed out where the imprisonment took place. Take care
sharewhatuknow from Western Washington on November 08, 2011:
Great history lesson here Dim Flaxenwick. Voted up and beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us about what to do and not do if some of us ever have the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal.
Great history lesson here too. The Taj Mahal is indeed a tomb, built by the emperor for his wife who had died in childbirth.
But I did not know that his people imprisoned him for his extravagant spending to build the Taj Mahal.
I learn something new everyday here at the Hub.
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on April 11, 2011:
Thank you so much. l enjoyed writing it . All the memories came flooding back to me
Kelly Kline Burnett from Fontana, WI on April 11, 2011:
What a great article - thank you! I didn't realize the Shah lost his freedom because of this extravagance - what a great monument to love and to liberty. Obsessiveness is a great sin. I have wanted to see this for years. Loved your first hand account. Very well done.
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on April 10, 2011:
you wil not be disappointed. Thanks for stopping by my page.
SUSANJK from Florida on April 10, 2011:
This is on my list of places I want to see. After reading your hub, Iwant it more.
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on April 09, 2011:
You´re right, pictures can´t possibly prepare you for the immense grandeur or the beauty of it.
l´m glad it you moved you as much as it did me.
Shalini Kagal from India on April 08, 2011:
Hi Dim - I'm so glad you thought so. Living in India, I didn't see the Taj Mahal till my early twenties and like you, I was blown away by the sheer size. Pictures of it just don't prepare you for the grandeur. And the Taj by moonlight when there are no crowds is breathtaking! Reminds me of those lines by Wordsworth: 'But thou that didst appear so fair/ To fond imagination/ Dost rival in the light of day/ Her delicate creation.'
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on April 08, 2011:
Hey Sunnie. Awesome is a great compliment. Thanks a lot. x
Dim Flaxenwick (author) from Great Britain on April 08, 2011:
Thank you too acaetnna for the comment. Take care.
acaetnna from Guildford on April 08, 2011:
What a great hub. I would love to visit all of these places one day.
Sunnie Day on April 08, 2011:
Thank you Dim for an awesome hub. Would love to visit one day. Truly magnificent.