Saturday, January 12, 2013

Longing for Mumtaz

The picture above is probably my favorite among the many that I took of Taj Mahal in Agra.

Hopeless romantic as I am, I've always found the love story behind the Taj touching. As you probably know, Mumtaz Mahal was the wife of Shah Jahan, the fifth Emperor of the Mughal Empire in India in the first part of the 17th century. She died while giving birth to their fourteenth child, but still managed to inspire her husband to build this shining mausoleum for her memory, filled with intricate stonework in white marble and precious stones depicting delicate flowers. In my eyes, it has always looked more suited for a young princess or empress, instead a a mother of fourteen (the whiteness, the flowers - somehow I connect them with a young bride more than middle-aged married wife...) - she must truly have been loved by him. The sad part of the story is that one of those children, a son who became Emperor Auranzeb, took power in 1658 and locked Shah Jahan into the Red Fort for the last eight years of his life.

I took these pictures from the balcony at the Red Fort in Agra (above) from where Shah Jahan was contained. This was the place he could sit and and look at Taj Mahal, his shimmering monument over Mumtaz and their mutual love and devotion, which he wasn't even allowed to visit. I do wonder what he thought of here in his sad containment, so close and still so far away, while grieving and longing for his favorite wife.


Unknown said...

What a sad story but building is so very very beautiful.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

It is sad, and I'm not sure if it is a consolation that he eventually got to lie in the same chamber with Mumtaz after his death... Such an amazing building, it really must be one of the most beautiful ones in the world. Hyvää, parempaa uutta vuotta sinulle, Liisa.