Wednesday, January 7th, 2009...7:36 am
Whateva Happened To The Black Taj? (India Post)
On Sunday we took a road trip from Delhi to Agra to see the world famous Taj Mahal. It’s a little over 100 miles from Delhi but takes about four hours each way through crappy roads with lots of traffic. Luckily we had a comfortable van and a competent driver so the trip wasn’t too bad. In fact, looking out the window and seeing different parts of India is fascinating and well worth the time spent in the car. The highlight was this little dude who was dancing in the street for rupees. Look closely to see how he spins the rock attached to a string that is tied to his hat.
The Taj was built in 1632 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She must have been a precious little doll for him to have built something so spectacular. It took 22 years to complete with over 20,000 workers. The entire monument and grounds are built in a comforting symmetrical manner. But story has it that once the King saw how awesome the Taj came out he began to build another Taj a few hundred meters away that was going to be called the Black Taj and would be perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal. It sounds like it would have been gangster. Unfortunately, the emperor’s son Aurangzeb decided that papa was getting a bit loose and decided to jail his father and cease building the Black Taj. Lame. He imprisoned his father in a cell in which the only thing he could see from his window was the Taj Mahal. Kind of gangster.
Luckily, I got to experience the Taj with a bit more freedom. Like all breath taking landmarks I spent a few seconds in awe and then spent the rest of the time figuring out how I could more fully experience such an awesome monument. I actually get anxious trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do. Take all kinds of pictures? Listen to everything the guide says? Stare in amazement? Touch it? Point?
It was a cool experience and it’s always special to be someplace that you see and read so much about and one I never even dreamed of visiting. I’m sure the photos came out great. Actually, you can judge for yourself with this gallery on facebook. I also interviewed my buddy Gavin who had some profound thoughts on The Taj.