Sometimes the place that makes you feel gratitude is in your own backyard, sometimes the journey that invokes awe is the journey within…
We are restless, relentless travellers always in search of something ‘new’. We want new adventures, new sensations, new sights, new sounds and new experiences… We crave for the unknown, we seek the unseen, we desire the unreachable and hope that somehow the experience will leave us changed forever!
At times all that one needs, really, is a ‘new’ insight to view old things with new eyes!
I was in a state of mental flux with constant highs and lows of emotion as I embarked on the journey to Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal, for my 39th Birthday.
It wasn’t my first time, neither would it be the last, given the proximity of Agra to Jaipur, my hometown, but it was certainly the first time that I would be seeing the symbol of ‘Eternal Love’ with a broken heart!
Who hasn’t heard of the Taj? An Emperor’s ode to his dead wife, a poetry in marble, a ‘Wonder of the World’, a lasting symbol of love… It is what Tagore romantically called, ‘a teardrop on the cheek of time’.
It was with teardrops on my own cheeks that I got the first glimpse of the Mausoleum through the veil of the ‘Great Gate’: Darwaza-i-Rauza! This monumental structure prepares the visitor for the grandeur of the mausoleum that awaits within, slowly revealing the stunning jewel inside. Beautiful calligraphy and red sandstone provide the perfect frame for the pristine white of the Taj.
The Taj complex is a strictly ordered progression of elements towards the overwhelming climax of the white marble building. The mausoleum is set at the northern end of the main axis flanked by identical two buildings – the mosque on the west and the ‘Mihman Khana’ or assembly hall on the east. The mausoleum is the dominant and unique feature in the center of the tripartite composition. Four minarets stand guard at the four corners. Beautifully set Mughal gardens, in mirrored symmetry, complete the picture.
It is said of the Taj, that it changes color with the time of the day, a blushing pink at dawn, a virginal white during the day and a celestial golden in the moonlight!
I think it also changes its look with the mood of the visitor… The last time I stood before it, as a newly wed, it seemed to me as the very epitome of ‘Eternal Love’, an Emperor’s audacity to keep his wife alive beyond death, a proof of his passion, wrought in living stones! But now, it looked despondent, weary of the burden and expectations of a million hearts! It takes a heart of ‘stone’ to uphold love for so many centuries!
As I stood before it, feeling heartbroken and sorry for myself, a strange thing happened – I don’t know if it was the collective emotion of so many people who thronged the premises, or the good wishes of my loved ones for my birthday, or simply the magic of the place, a burden suddenly seemed to lift from my heart and set me free, light as a feather!
It was ok to be alone, it was ok to be away from my love, it was ok to hope…
It was as if Emperor Shahjahan, who spent his last days alone and heartbroken, not even able to visit his beloved’s tomb, but yet left the world this everlasting symbol of true love was giving me a lesson in love – it is better to have loved and lost rather than not have loved at all!
I was filled with gratitude as I saw the Taj, one last time, in all its rainbow-colored splendor, through the prism of my tears.
About the Author: Archana Saboo is a businesswoman, freelance writer, painter and avid traveller residing in the pink city of India, Jaipur.