Living to Expectations

The first glimpse

(Dana)  Sometimes expectations are so high that reality never reaches them.  How many times in life have I been disappointed by the “must-see” or “must do?”  On this journey, there have been a few destinations with the potential for disappointment.  After all, could the pyramids or Machu Picchu or yesterday’s destination – the Taj Mahal – really live up to their billing?  Wonders of the world?

Yesterday, for us, the Roza-e-manwarra (Taj Mahal to the Brits who adopted the easier name) reached its lofty expectations.  The first view was actually the family’s favorite: the white marble mausoleum as it emerges through the entry arch in the red sandstone building screening the Muslim world of the senses from the world of the spirits. Framed in red, the white marble glows from a distance.

Once through the gates ourselves, we take in the overall beauty of the monument.  A white marble platform raises everything off the ground.  Ingeniously built on a bend in the river, nothing mars the background of the Taj; nothing competes with the blue sky against the white marble.  Four minarets adorn the corners, balancing the imposing center structure. A mosque in red sandstone to the West ensures the faithful will visit the site, and an empty but matching building on the East creates symmetry.  As we approach, the Koran verses and pietra dura (inlaid stone) adorning the outside become apparent.  Everything is symmetric — the gardens, fountains and reflecting pools.  Everything but the graves inside the mausoleum.  Mumtaz Mahal (crown of the palace) has been lain perfectly in the center by her heartbroken, grieving husband Moghul Shah Jahan.  Intricate floral patterns of pietra dura surround her.  But the grave of Shah Jahan is stuck on her side by his heir and conniving son Aurangzeb.

We actually visited twice — sunset and sunrise — to appreciate the light on this monument.  I probably could have stayed all day just absorbing it.   The highlight of India for me was the villages, but I admit that the icon of India did end up being a “must see.”

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2 Responses to “Living to Expectations”

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! I have described it the same way to others, that the Taj is the one thing, no matter how hyped it has been, that is even more amazing in person. The magnificence of taking in the whole sight from a distance, and the extraordinary detail and color of a single square inch with a torch thru the translucent stone – both just extraordinary. Wish we could have stayed to see it with you. But will have to be for another time with the kids! Enjoy Bhutan! D

  2. That is such an amazing view.

    miss you sooo much
    -Annie