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Taj Mahal: an epitome of illusion where love resides forever.

Taj Mahal Manan Kathuria Journal
Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal Manan Kathuria Journal

Taj Mahal; who doesn’t know about this? The world comes to see this epitome of beauty where love resides forever. But, I never understood the place. It was the 4th time I visited it because my cousins wanted to see it, they read about it in their school books. Though it was planned I would wear a black kurta, which I bought just a day before to get good pictures, of course, because it was the Taj Mahal. We parked the car in the parking, three people with different occupations came running to us, one was the auto-walla, other was a kid selling shoe-covers and third, the tourist guide whose name was Adnan.

The kid left us after selling a pair of shoe-cover for 10₹ each. The auto-walla left us dropping at the stand from where electric vehicles operate. The guide joined us for the visit to Shahjahan’s most treasured monument, which Shahjahan built in the loving memory of Mumtaz, one of his three wives. We entered through the western gate. We took just 20 steps, a group of photographers came running to us, for preserving this visit in terms of a life-long memory in a photograph. One out of them took our photos, first in front of the Darwaza-i-rausa, the great gate along the way to the mighty Taj. Then in front of the epitome of beauty. My cousins wanted that photo of them posing in front of the Taj holding it from the top, as if they have the mighty Taj in their hands now. It reminded me of my first visit to Taj Mahal. A slight nostalgic moment.

We move towards the Taj Mahal, and Adnan started telling us about the history, this is that, this is this, but I wanted to know more about the Black Taj Mahal. I asked him, ‘Tell me more about…?’ He knew what I wanted to ask. He said, ‘the foundation is still layed behind the Taj Mahal, now in Mehtab Bagh, in between flows the river Yamuna. Shahjahan wanted to build it because of sadness and sorrows in his life. I asked him, ‘Isn’t Taj meant to be for sadness too?’ He smiled.

We reached to the Mausoleum, unfortunately it has been ticketed now. We entered, there were replicas over replicas. Photography wasn’t allowed inside. All the precious stones have now disappeared from the Taj. Just the white marble. It’s beautifully crafted. As we came out of the mausoleum, workers were painting the railings. One of them was Sonu who works here daily, he told me that a lot is renovating now. Adnan adds, to keep it white, they use Multani mitti. We walked around and ‘the corner is an illusion’ Adnan says. He said ‘look at the pattern from down to up. It is a single plain marble. And then take 5 steps back and look it from the front. It looks as if the pillar which supports Taj Mahal has been carved.’ After that everything looked like an illusion. Everything changed.

I asked Adnan, ‘Can I click a picture of you? I’ll write about this and your journey?’ He said, ‘I don’t get clicked in front of the Taj Mahal. It isn’t a place to celebrate. It’s a Makbara (tomb). People in old times used to come here for remembrance. But now, reality seems to me like an illusion.’

Taj Mahal Manan Kathuria Journal

While going back I wanted to take a souvenir with we. After listening to Adnan’s talk on illusion, despite taking the small replica of Taj, I picked up some fallen leaves from the soil of where the Taj Mahal is built, red, green and one dried. These rest in my home now...just like sadness rests in the Taj Mahal.

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