What are the ingredients of its unparalleled fame? Millions of people who have never seen it get goose pimples when the very name is mentioned. Add myth and legends to supreme elegance and voilà! There it is: this unique recipe lifts it above all other Mughal tombs.
Who would remain untouched by the story of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite, beloved wife of Emperor Sha Jahan, dying while delivering their 14th child? Her beauty and gracefulness were raved about by contemporary poets. In her honor, Sha Jahan had the Taj Mahal built, an immortal reminder of eternal love!
How about another irresistible myth? The hands of all the craftsmen working on the Taj Mahal were chopped off to prevent them from ever creating a similar jewel. Hopefully that is not true! Considering it took Sha Jahan 22 years to build a monument befitting the memory of his beloved wife, this would have meant an awful lot of hands.
Those who think more drama is unbearable, listen to the dramatic ending! When Sha Jahan was ousted by his own son and imprisoned at Agra Fort, he spent his remaining days looking at the tomb of his beloved wife from the distance.
In order to enjoy this jewel in peace and quiet, we lined up at dawn, at the lesser-frequented East Gate. But a long line was already snaking around metal barriers and when the gate opened at 06:30 am, the line went way down the outer wall.
There are lines for female and male visitors, but that’s not all: the distinction goes even further. Indians and “high-value visitors”! The line for Indian ladies was deserted whereas the one for “high-value ladies” was packed with western lady tourists. The smarter ones sneaked over and got in ahead. To our surprise, none of the men lining up directly next to the ladies copied this behavior… After passing through the X-Ray machine and taking the batteries from our headlights, we were allowed in. And yes it is magical!