It was an impressive Sunday crowd at the Taj in the pre-noon period of early March. Weather was congenial. Riot of colour was, therefore, stunning. There was plenty of love and bonhomie in the air while having an initial glimpse or gaze with a feeling of awe. And finally you see the monument of love in toto.
Cameras begin clicking almost immediately, so much so that the first few shots have to be ultimately reviewed and deleted altogether. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of rapid digitization? The touch pose by raising one’s arm and ‘placing’ the same on top of Taj was the most prominent one, followed instantly and religiously, almost by everyone.
A foreign couple (forty plus lady sporting a backless halter gown) and their jeans clad Indian counterpart were frequently spotted. They made no mistakes in getting noticed and leaving an indelible mark. Expectedly, young couples from the length & breadth of the country were there to grace the occasion. Children & tiny tots did not lag behind in posing for the camera. The group (100 odd), however, which convincingly stole the slow comprised of fresh tall recruits of the BSF. It appears, they were feeling liberated from long and tiring election duty recently. High spirit, therefore, was all pervading.
At the traditional posing marble bench, there was a complete jam, so much so that one had to wait for one’s turn for nearly 15-20 minutes. It was worth it as you do not visit Taj every day. And the sun light was picture perfect. It was festive spirit that dominated.
While Indians by and large would begin shooting at the drop of hat, the foreigners in general would look, stare, admire and thereafter aim and shoot. Most of them if part of a group, would listen attentively to the live commentary (in the language they understood) delivered by the professional guides. Latter, invariably would come out with a yanky accent, while reiterating the grand old tale of the Emperor Shahjehan and the Queen Mumtaj Mahal.
An interesting snap session of a South Indian daughter & son-in-law, meticulously “conducted” by a father with photographic bent of mind reflected the overall change in the attitude in respect of portrayal of love in public places. Father was excited no doubt, but the mother could not suppress her traditional outlook even when affection and exhilaration had their way.
The monument built in 1653, per se, is so grand, imposing and massive that it is almost a two kms walk to cover its 42 acres. And one does not feel tired. Rather, one relishes it. It looks the same from three sides- East, West and South. The north view, one cannot see because of partly polluted Yamuna at the rear.
Carvings, inlay work and calligraphy on all sides are not only gorgeous. They are outstanding masterpieces. The beauty of minars can be admired only when you get closer. There were no architects, no civil engineers, no aesthetic consultants nor steel was used six hundred years ago, yet, such a fine specimen of architectural rationality saw the light of the day after a labour of love of twenty thousand workers for twenty two years.
Traditional reflecting pool view of 81 feet high Taj is definitely admirable but the view from inside the main gate or from one of the jumbo gates on the bank of Yamuna, simply defies description. Not only you are spellbound but you feel like meditating. You do not think of anything except Taj. The experience acts like a true stress buster.
All the talk about change in the colour of Taj from white to yellowish cream is hogwash. After two hours of close look, it can be safely concluded that the marble marvel is still not only sparkling, but it leaves you simply flavorgasted.
Surroundings of Taj and the main courtyard are spotlessly clean. Scene around the ticket windows, however, needs face lift and decongestion. The approach road is much better than what it was a few years ago. However, the city police have to do its home work to regulate traffic properly. Coming to conveyance, apart from the cycle rickshaws, introduction of camel carts and battery vans operated by the A.D.A. from the parking lot is eco-friendly and sustainable addition. Besides taking care of environment, these also act as great levelers.
Taj can earn more money for the country if it is more aggressively sold and the touts, agents and the transporters are systematically regulated, if not eliminated. Only upkeep and non-penetrable security won’t do. The access to the Taj also has to be clean, presentable and non-cumbersome.
My fourth visit was not exactly “satisfactory” as you cannot have enough of Taj. At the end of each visit, one vows to come again.