Taj Mahal Having sat still at the police station for most of the morning we decided to have a walk and find the gardens near the Taj Mahal that we had been told about. Evidently they were an oasis of green and calm with good views of the Taj. On reaching the Taj we followed the path to the left for about half an hour until we got to the river that runs behind it. Finding our way blocked we retraced our steps and then followed the road around other side of the perimeter wall. This proved difficult as it soon went into a labyrinth of small alley ways with all sorts of shops and stalls. After asking directions lots of times and stumbling into all the other entrances we still had not the garden we had been told about. Eventually we stumbled into a temple and asked there. “Loverly garden behind that door” we were told. A hand pointed to large enclosing wall with a small green gate in it. The gate had been left open after people had used it to get into the garden. We went in. There were immediate shouts and the shouts weren’t friendly. “GO, GO” Several people were shouting at once, Rakes and other garden implements were brandished at us; people looked menacing. “GO, GO, GO” the shouts continued. We backed away. I became aware that I had rather foolishly put my hands up. As we backed out of the door I shut it behind me and slid the bolt firmly into place. Hot and tired we started back to the hotel. Just before we back to the hotel we noticed a large gate and a big sign saying Nature Park. We had walked straight past it several hours earlier. We spent the last of the daylight in the Park and it was wonderful. Quiet, green, cool and with wonderful views. Later we were told it was the park for hand holding lovers, It was a lovely place.
The next morning we got up early and queued for the Taj Mahal tickets then walked down the VIP road to the entrance. It is actually called the VIP Road and was built to make the place look nicer for the tourists and visiting dignitaries. Its got its own footpath, lights and everything. Even more surprising is the fact that cows are excluded from it so you can walk in relative safety without having to look at the ground all the time. The security to get in is comparable to airport security with the exception that you get a really good pat down as well as the body scan. The security found my swiss army knife in my camera bag. “Whats this” he said. Me “ A knife”. Him “ Not allowed” he said sternly and then after a short pause he said “Please hide” and waved me in.
I had been told that nothing prepare you for the detail on the tomb. Its true. I was also unprepared for the size of it, and its beauty. It is simply the most beautiful, perfect made thing that I have ever seen. It took a few walks around the outside before I could begin to understand the absolute symmetry of it. It just got more and more stunning. Once you enter the mausoleum itself you see the sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan in the main chamber. Mumtaz Mahal, the Mogul Emperor’s favorite wife who died giving birth to her 14th child. Actually as I understand it what you see are false sarcophagi, the real ones being on a lower floor that visitors don’t get to see.
Several years later the Mogul’s son deposed him and imprisoned him in the Red Fort a couple of kilometers away. He was placed in a cell where he could look at the Taj Mahal out of the window. I can only imagine the sadness. A few days later Jo was talking to an English couple who had also been to the Taj Mahal. When she asked them what they thought of it they said that they had been a bit disappointed. “The buildings alright” they said but there is “not a lot inside it”.