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Impression of Taj
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Impression of Taj

 

From studied awe to sheer ecstacy, people have literally competed to say the most beautiful things about the Taj Mahal. Some have admired its beauty; others have revealed the various activities that took place here. We take a look…

Shah Jahan's own composition in praise of the Tajis found in Badshah Nama: "…The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs / And makes sun and moon shed tears from their eyes / In this world this edifice has been made / to display thereby the Creator's glory."

From the Travels in the Moghul Empire, 1670 by the French traveller Bernier: "The Koran is continually read with apparent devotion by certain Mullahs kept in the Mausoleum for that purpose…It is opened with much ceremony once a year and no Christian is admitted within, lest its sanctity be profaned."

In 1783 the British painter Hodges says of the tomb: "it appears like a perfect pearl on an azure ground. The effect is such I have never experienced from any work of art."

By the time of the British conquest of India, the attitude to the Taj had changed. The beautiful memorial had turned into a pleasure resort; in its gardens, Englishman met their lovers. On its terrace they danced while the mosque and the jawab were rented out to honeymooners!

Writes a then well-known British officer, Colonel Sleeman's wife: "I cannot tell what I think. I do not know how to criticize such a building but I can tell what I feel. I would die tomorrow to have such another over me."

The American novelist, Bayard Taylor, wrote about the Taj: "Did you ever build a castle in the Air? Here is one, brought downto earth and fixed for the wonder of ages".

Lord Curzon, the British Governor-General who is credited to have somewhat saved the Taj from neglect, said in a speech from the terrace of the monument: "If I had never done anything else in India, I have written my name here, and the letters are a living joy."

The poet Rabindranath Tagore has perhaps said it best of all: "You know Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart…Let the splendour of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish…Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever."

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