I saw a postcard of the taj mahal. Simmering white on an indian summer under a stark blue sky. In the foreground was a swami cross-legged, all loose orange robes and browned wrinkled skin. My mom has that postcard now; i’d tried to write that the taj mahal i saw and still in my mind is very different.
December in agra is cold. And the mausoleum in december takes on the chilly cast. It sat swathed in the rolling fog from the river yamuna that flows behind. It was just freezing at 6am. Only when the sun rose enough were my hands willing to leave the pockets, and i began taking pictures. Which is fine, because the taj is all they say and more, and my eyes happily drank in the colours hidden in the marble, the careful persian architecture. I really enjoyed the audio guide taking me back to the 1700s– though obviously it was orchestrated to have shah jahan, and his wife mumtaz mahal, be their dramatic, heroic best.
It looks like it was built for humans of a different scale, my friend said. Or a different breed, or concern. Or dreams.
Inside are the two tombs side by side. You’re not allowed to take photos, though tourists local and non-local alike snap away. We did our clockwise circle (following the sign that tells us to) around the tiny tombs, trying to feel the love and the death on that magnificent scale.
The hordes just grows and heaves as the day gets longer. Any decent photography needed ninja stealth and wits by noon, and the taj retreats, a silent impenetrable white against the noise and colours of us mortals.
Shah jahan was eventually imprisoned in agra fort by his own son. From the red of agra fort, you can see the taj across the yamuna river.