The Taj Mahal in India needs no introduction.
As our tour guide said, “The Taj Mahal is not a monument. It is a teardrop from the eyes of Shah Jahan on the cheek of time. A beautiful poem in marble which took 22 years and 22,000 people to write.”
I had dreamed of this day for so long, because my parents have always talked about the majesty and grandeur of the Taj Mahal, so I always hoped I would be able to see it in person one day.
We walked through the intricate arch of the gate that leads to the Taj Mahal, and as soon as I could barely make out the outline of the Taj Mahal in the distance, my heart started beating a little faster. We followed the flow of people through the narrow passageway to the end where it opened up into one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
The Taj Mahal gleamed white and its reflection shimmered on the water below. Thousands of people were exploring the grounds and taking pictures, and we did the same. After the initial excitement, I slowed down and just took it all in. The artistry of this monument is absolutely breathtaking, from the stunning reflection of the monument on the water to the perfect symmetry in all directions.
We were able to explore the Taj Mahal even more when we went inside, and it was a bit surreal to feel the cool ancient marble under our bare feet. We got to see the details of the artwork and engravings up close, and learned that the Taj Mahal is adorned with over 28 different precious and semiprecious stones. The intricate mosaics were designed by talented artists, and their descendants 7 and 8 generations down the line still carry on their craft today.
We had the opportunity to go to the workshop of some descendants of artists who worked on the marble mosaics on the Taj Mahal, and learned how they carve the marble and stones by hand to create incredibly details works of art. They design everything from coasters to dining tables.
We saw their process up close, from the cutting of the marble slabs and the application of henna to more easily see the designs, to the deep carving of the stone and inset of precious jewels and stones in beautiful arrangements. We even had the opportunity to try our hand at it! They use the exact same techniques that their ancestors used, so these artists carry on this craft not just to create beautiful, one-of-kind pieces, but also to honor their heritage.
Seeing the passion these artists had for their craft and the legacy they have from the Taj Mahal until now really made history come alive for me. Before our trip in Agra even began, our tour guide said that the Taj Mahal is not a monument, but a subject, and now I realize how true it is. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and even though it was built almost 400 years ago, this poem continues to be written.