The ultimate testament to true love? Why, building a tomb for your sweetheart, of course! And that's exactly what Shahjahan did for his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, when, after 18 years of marriage, she died in childbirth, at the age of 39. The Indian king gave us the Taj Mahal, an immense, domed marble structure that’s utterly majestic, yet exquisitely detailed at the same time.
After 2 years of mourning, Shahjahan had a memorial constructed, one that would be known throughout the world; for 17 years, 20,000 labourers, made up of master masons, architects, calligraphers, stone-carvers, and craftsmen, combined their efforts to put up the monument. Generously strewn with jewels, Chinese crystal and jade, Sri Lankan lapis lazuli and sapphires, Persian onyx and amethysts, Tibetan turquoise, and Arabian corals can be found all over the structure. Floral and geometric prints are engraved on the walls, as well as Koranic verses; the tomb is meant to look like a garden-paradise. Encircled by 4 minarets, it lies atop a sandstone platform; Shahjahan soon joined his beloved, and was buried alongside her.
For centuries, artists have been inspired by the Taj Mahal’s beauty, and travellers have crossed the globe just to catch a glimpse; its colours tantalise, as the different times of day paint its walls blinding white, soft grey, subtle purple, cool blue, and golden yellow. Today, the 75-metre high Taj Mahal is nestled the city of Agra, surrounded by a garden, on the banks of Yamuna.
Don't forget to visit on your India holiday!