Have you heard of the 7 wonders of the world? Which one is your favourite?
Well as simple and cliché as it can be my favorite is no doubtable n 7!
Why? Well there is an enchanted love story behind it and yes, I am an old romantic soul, I have to admit it.
The first time; I learned about this “beauty” it was during summer break of 1992. When I was sitting in my aunt’s garden in Bombay and was looking at this amazing photography book about India beauty attractions. I was all for drawing and coloring at that time… and besides the fact that I cannot remember the exact title of the book , I recall enjoying so much getting inspired from it to draw elephants, tigers and some kind of bizarre monkeys. However, the thing that caught my mind at once was that magnificent white palace at page18, pure beauty. I remember running to my mum and asking her what was it? She said it was a magic palace, called the Taj Mahal.
Can you imagine the effect of saying to a 6 year old little girl obsessed with faries and all kinds of tales, magic palace? All at once, I asked, “where is it? Can we go there now, please pretty please?” She started smiling and said “baby unfortunately is not close by, it is in Agra. It takes a long adventurous journey by train, or bus to reach there” . Today I know for sure that adventurous was really the right word to use when talking of catching trains or buses in India, especially 22 years ago…..
I was so disappointed, I almost cried, but then she said I’ll take you one day I promise, in the mean while do you want to know the magical story behind the Taj? It was not what I asked for, but I was too curious, so I sat down with my mom drunk a sip of my favorite mango juice and listened to her very carefully.
The story as every good tale begins with “A long long time ago there was a boy named Khurram, he was the son of the emperor of India, this little boy often loved exploring outside the palace. One day when he was 14 years old, strolling down the Meena Bazaar where he saw a girl, her name was Arjumand Banu Begum. Although he caught only a glimpse of her, he could not get her out of his mind…it was love at first sight.
The girl Arjumand was a beautiful Persian princess”. – At this point I thought…. yassss a princesss!!.. and relaxed craving for more words from my mom…
So, she went on ” The day they both met, they fell deeply in love with each other. And that very same day Khurram went back to his father and declared that he wanted to marry her.
After 5 years the marriage between the two happened in a beautiful colored and joyful ceremony. Both of their name were changed Khurram became Shah Jahan and Arjumand became Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was so in love with Mumtaz whose name by the way means “Jewel of the Palace”.
She was a trusted companion and traveled with him all over the Mughal Empire., always by his side, even in the most dangerous situations! Poets wrote about her beauty, her gracefulness and compassion, but she was also strong and brave!
The years past and they lived happily but not ever after …
In fact, years later Mumtaz Mahal died.
While she was lying on her deathbed, Shah Jahan promised her that he would never remarry again and would built something that could represent their love, that on his final day could became their home in the afterlife.
It is said that Shah Jahan was so heartbroken after her death that he ordered the court into mourning for two years. It was a dark time of sufferance… until he ordered the constructions of a magnificent monument, It took 22 years ,the labor of 22,000 workers and 1,000 elephants to construct it. Finally, his heart was filled with a little glimpse of light once again.
He used to see his beloved wife by starring at this magnificent jewel, he called TAJ MAHAL.
Yet again life was cruel with Shah Jahan, because one day his son who was thirsty for power, plotted against his old father and had him imprisoned. It is said that Shah Jahan as hurt and old as he was, begged his son to grant him just one wish. He asked to be kept in a certain point of the Agra Fort , which was the only place that had a small view of his Taj.
The legend goes on saying, that every night until his last day, Shah Jahan stood in front of that tiny window starring at the Taj and thinking of his beloved wife Mumtaz.
… and this simple and beautiful heartbreaking routine was his only moment of happiness…until his final days..
Years past and the story of Mumtaz and Shah jahan became legendary with the fame of the white marble Palace.
The Taj Mahal became a living example of eternal love. People from all over the world now go there to ask for some kind of wish/ blessing…..It is said that if go to visit the Taj with a pure heart and ask to find back a lost love, an impossible love… or just find true love…. the kind that last forever…. the wish will come true.
Now I do not know about that, I remember believing that story with all my heart when I was a kid…. Nevertheless, this place is so spiritual and magical. When I finally got the chance to see it. I was emotionally overwhelmed.
It was the most incredible experience I have ever had… I cannot tell if it is true that the Taj leads you back to your lost love or gives you true love, like my mother said to me …. but it certainly gives something very powerful….HOPE.
I may close this story with a quote by an english poet, Edwin Arnold who best describes the Taj as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”
…. Now that’s, very true.