Remembering the Taj Mahal

article image

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.
– Francis Bacon

Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.
– Oscar Wilde

As a travel writer and photographer, all too often I get home, edit my photos, write any print assignment articles, post the photos on social media, and write blog posts before heading to my next adventure, forgetting to look back once in a while. Recently though, I started taking time to look at photo files to relive the joy of discovering yet another amazing place.

One time, in Agra, India, I arrived late afternoon at the beautiful Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel. I knew that every room offered perfect sight of the Taj Mahal, and I was anxious for the view.

From my balcony, in the distance, framed by lush foliage, I could see the symbol of love that is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. That moment is forever etched in my memory.

The next day, my friend Norma and I were transported to the gates by an electric vehicle. After passing through security, our guide began to tell us the love story behind the monument: The ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna River was commissioned in 1632 for 827 million dollars (2015 equivalent) by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, to house his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Almost immediately, we saw the Tal Mahal gleaming in the morning sunlight. People jockeyed for position to get just the right photo of the iconic site before heading closer.

We wandered through the gardens taking more photos before going inside with hundreds of Indian residents to view the final resting place of the emperor and his beloved wife. Hundreds of barefoot people crowded into the small, dark space to get a glimpse of the two caskets. When a guard blew a whistle, everyone shuffled out and a new group pushed its way in.

We admired the inlaid, semiprecious stones and took in the view of the river before walking back to the entrance for one last gaze at the iconic scene.

It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience filled with perfect memories to reflect on.