There is only one picture that captures the essence of the Taj Mahal. A forelorn Princess Diana sitting in front of the flowing fountains pondering her life gave us all a glimpse into her vulnerability. As the folklore goes, the picture was taken during the time that she and Charles were falling on troubled waters, and later that year they split.
The Taj creates a ‘feeling’ inside you. It makes you feel a bit more ‘exposed’, like someone is peering deep within. It is all that life is: love, despair, hope and tragedy, joy and madness. The fact that a man made building can create such a lasting memory is a testament to its power. I was moved by the sheer size of the monument, a tribute to the Shah’s dead wife. It is so big and so unusual in its stature that they say astronauts can pinpoint it from space. The words that come to mind are majestic, grande, immense, incredible and crowded!
Yes, apparently, I was not the only person that wanted to see the Taj Mahal on that given Tuesday. Everyday there are tens of thousands of visitors to the Taj. Its probably the single biggest ‘tourist attaction’ in the World. And, what is odd about this fact is that this beautiful, magical tomb is in Agra, one of the dumpiest towns I’ve visited in all of India.
For a town receiving millions of visitors per year, Agra has no supporting infrastructure. There is only one extremely narrow and small road leading through Agra to the Taj to support all the tour busses, cars, taxis and local movers for all. There are few hotel choices within the mid range and the prices are jacked up. The food choices in the restaurants are minimal with food prices unusually high. It is also dangerous to venture out too far at night due to a high crime rate in Agra itself. So, this begs the question, with all the millions of dollars coming from visits to the Taj Mahal, where is the money going? My personal opinion is that there are a lot of political pockets being lined with Taj rupees. It is well known that India’s politicians live like their preceding kings. There is a long history of bribery and kick backs which has continued to plague their political system. However, this is still no reason not to protect, nurture and support the greatest tourist attraction in India. The Taj is a ‘must see’ on the list of things to do in India. Though, if you go, I would recommend staying out of Agra and going to the Taj as a day trip. This way you’ll have the experience without the headache.
It is well worth the trip to see, feel and sense the love and anguish in the walls of the Taj Mahal. Just don’t expect to be the only one there to see its majesty, as the Taj is never lonely for company.