This question was asked repeatedly by our guide, Rais, arranged for us by Indebo Travel, on our visit to the Taj Mahal. “And would you believe it, Sir?” The number of years, workers, stones, engineers, carvings, visitors would seem unbelievable but true.
The final wish of a beloved Maharani, dying at the birth of her 14th child in 19 years – to be buried at the riverside where she first met the great love of her life.
“And would you believe it, Ma’am?” Rais asked. “Architects and engineers were brought from around the world in order to find a way to build this heavy, very heavy structure on the unstable banks of a river.” 20,000 workers, 1,000 elephants, 22 years.
Remarkably, this marble hardens with human touch making it possible for visitors to pass their fingers, place their cheek or press their lips against it – a truly lasting memory. The original artisan families have continued to use the same, carefully guarded, stone working skills for centuries, passed from generation to generation, allowing The Taj to be meticulously maintained for hundreds of years and perhaps, as intended, for eternity.
“And would you believe it, Ma’am, Sir …” asked Rais as he remembered yet another wonderful anecdote to share about the remarkable history of The Taj. Before seeing it, the astonishing stories, facts, and achievement Taj represents would seem overblown, unlikely or myth. Having seen it, touched it, felt it, The Taj undoubtedly merits its special place in history and legend. It is evidence of extraordinary love and the efforts of countless extraordinary people.
I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed,” Me said, “Taj Mahal is so much more than a symbol or cliche for the world’s greatest testimony to love. It’s magical – mystical.”
As we walked back to the tuk tuk for a harrowing ride back to the hotel, He smiled and said, “Would you believe it, Ma’am? Centuries later, love lives on.” “I’ve always believed it, “Me said. “But I’m happy to know I was right.”
- While a guide is not necessary to appreciate the Taj, we appreciated having ours. In addition to the colorful history and stories he told us, he was able to navigate easily through the ebb and flow of tourists and make sure we saw everything without be crowded. His narratives were truly enjoyable and memorable and added greatly to the experience. Not all guides being equal, you may want to arrange for your guide through your hotel or travel agent to ensure the best experience.
- Be prepared to purchase shoe covers (tiny charge) or remove your shoes when entering certain portions of the interior.
- Bathroom facilities may prove challenging for some and having “private paper” (while it is available in short supply and particularly as paper towels are not available) is always a good idea when traveling. Lines can be very long.