Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore once called the Taj Mahal a teardrop that glistened “spotlessly bright on the cheek of time.” I felt these romantic sentiments accurately captured the delicate beauty of the great Taj Mahal.
It all began with a love story, which I listened to in front of the Taj Mahal at daybreak. As my guide related the story of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wish to memorialize his love for his wife in white marble, the sun’s rays illuminated more and more of the glowing mausoleum.
No matter how many pictures are splashed over tour guides, this is a place you have to see face to face to truly appreciate. The details of the 1653 monument became more apparent the closer I came to the Taj Mahal. Eventually, I could see the colored designs all over the walls were semi-precious and precious stones cut into the white marble. These stones sparkled in the sunlight with a dazzling effect.
The chamber for Shah Jahan’s wife’s tomb is kept quiet with little light except an overhead lamp. Echoes from visitors’ voices reverberated musically overhead as I paused to think about the royal couple that inspired the Taj Mahal’s construction.
After journeying through some of India’s crazy traffic to get to Jaipur, I watched a demonstration of clothes and carpet making at the Shree Carpet and Textile Mahal. People here use the same methods they have used for centuries to produce handmade clothes and carpets. Inside the main shop, I saw the brightly colored finished products of shirts, scarves, dresses, tablecloths and rugs for sale.
One of the many strange sights I saw on the way to Jaipur
A rug making demonstration