Taj Mahal: The Story of a Romance

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After returning from summer vacation, I often ask my friends what they did over the summer. Most of them reply, “Oh! I just sat at home doing nothing”. A few of them actually spend their summer doing something productive. Whether it may be volunteering at a local hospital or taking trips with their families. They often talk about their exotic trips to different parts of the world.

At lunch that day, a kid at my lunch table started to talk about his summer trip to the Taj Mahal. He started to talk about facts that he learned while he was in India. He was filled with knowledge about its history and the story of a romance. When the kid started reciting the facts, I recalled learning about the subject in my Global History class. Although, I didn’t know that this Wonder of the World had something more to its beauty: a story of a romance between a queen and the king.

I rushed to the local library that weekend a checked out books about the Taj Mahal and its history. “Romance” was the word that had triggered my sudden interest in the subject. All of the books told the story of a romance between Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Under the rule of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Empire was prosperous. He ruled the empire with his queen, Mumtaz Mahal. When his wife died during childbirth, Shah Jahan was in grief. Their love was so intense that he built her an elaborate mausoleum known today as the Taj Mahal. When building his wife’s final resting place, Shah Jahan didn’t spare any expense. Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb was constructed of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones.

Five years ago, I went to India with my family for the summer. We had planned to visit many tourist spots, but the Taj Mahal was our first priority. First we went to South India where my parents lived. Then we traveled by train to Agra in North India. During the train trip, I was able to see and experience the different regions and distinguished cultures of India. Alas, we arrived in the city of New Delhi. From New Delhi, we had to take a tourist bus. Since the monument is protected from pollution, the bus dropped us off a few miles and we had to walk.
When we reached, I stood at the entrance staring at the beauty of the tomb. There was a long pathway leading to the Taj Mahal. Along the pathway, there were long rectangular fountains, and flower beds with all sorts of flowers arranged in color unity and pattern. One thing I noticed about the tomb was that it was symmetrical. I saw that the tomb was designed to reflect the Persian and Islamic culture during Shah Jahan’s reign. I posed with my family for a family picture in front of one of the wonders of the world.
The monument was crowded with millions of people from all around the world. We found brochures at a nearby information stand about interesting facts of the Taj Mahal. A local tour guide took us around the unfamiliar monument. The tour was bilingual: English and Hindi were spoken. We went from chamber to chamber only to be astonished by more artwork and architecture of the Mughal Empire. The tour guide explained that the materials that were needed to build the monument came from Persia, parts of India, and even China. The entire building was made out of translucent white marble inlaid with semi-precious jewels like jade, sapphire, crystal and jasper. There was Islamic calligraphy written on the walls. Most of the writings were passages taken from the Koran, the holy book of the Muslims. It is evident that the workers used tessellations in the patterns on the floors and walls. The next stop was the cenotaph (tomb) of Mumtaz Mahal. She is laid to rest in the exactly in the center of the whole mausoleum. Beside her is Shah Jahan’s tomb. The tour group wasn’t allowed to go near the tomb and was only allowed to take photographs. I took the pictures of the tomb with my digital camera and also took a few snapshots of the gems that were inlaid in the marble. My younger brother traced the calligraphy on the wall by placing a sheet of paper on the wall and by rubbing a crayon over it.
The day was coming to an end, and the sun was setting over the horizon. The Taj Mahal’s white marble was turning pink because it was reflecting the sunset. It was one of the most wonderful sights that I had seen in my life. I quickly pulled out my camera and took pictures so that I could capture this beautiful movement.
Even now, five years later, I can still see the beauty of the Taj Mahal in the sunset when I close my eyes. I was grateful that I could visit a monument that had been named one of the wonders of the world. And, best of all, I have learned the story of a romance between a king and his queen. Just like a story tale.

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