Sunday, May 1, 2011

A million flowers to remember her by

A few days after returning to New Delhi from Varanasi we took a 6am train to Agra and arrived at the Taj Mahal early in the morning.  There is no need to describe the Taj Mahal since its image is so widely known, but no picture can really capture the size and beauty of this masterpiece.

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his most beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal who he called 'the light of the palace.'  She died at 39 after giving birth to his 14th child.  Upon hearing of her death Shah Jahan is quoted saying "empire has no sweetness, life itself has no relish left for me now."  He lived for 35 more years after her death, it took 22 years to build the Taj Mahal.

When you get close enough to the building you can see the Taj Mahal is covered with intricately carved flowers.  These beautiful white marble flowers are delicately carved into the stones surrounding the outside of the building.  Each flower an intricate replica of a real flower, and Iris, a lotus, a lily, a rose.  Inside the building the walls are inlaid with tiny pieces of semiprecious gemstones in the shape of thousands of colorful flowers.  Each one of the flowers could stand as an artpiece on its own, and there are thousands of them.  Shah Jahan did not just build his wife a tomb he built a garden of blooming sparkling flowers for her to enjoy throughout eternity.

We sat and just looked at the beauty of this homage to love for a long time, unable to tear our eyes away, unwilling to leave the presence of the beautiful peaceful energy of this place.  

Totally looks fake.  We were there, promise!

Looking back at the gate leading into the Taj Mahal complex

steps up to the Taj

Little tiny Kaytee (front and center), big Taj Mahal

semiprecious gemstone inlay all over the walls inside the tomb

The tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and her son

There were literally thousands of different kinds of flowers covering the tombs

one of the side buildings through the honeycomb lattice work of the tomb

Arabic calligraphy to the sky

One of the two red sandstone buildings mirrored on either side of the Taj

The Taj from the side (and tiny tiny Kaytee)

Ceiling of side building.  wow!!

Lori posing for a classic Taj Mahal picture!!

The gardener photographer who insisted on taking those last few pics

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