We enter the history of the Taj Mahal, in Agra, the most famous monument in India and cradle of one of the most universal love stories in Asia .
Once upon a time there was a prince named Shah Jahan , son of the Mughal emperor of India and future heir to the throne. A handsome young man, ambitious and of many concerns who, with only 14 years, decided to venture into the mysteries of the Meena Bazaar, in the city of Agra. It was there that, wrapped between precious gems and aromas of spices, he found a Persian princess named Arjumand Banu Begum . The romance arose instantly between the two, pushing the prince to declare his love.
After introducing her to the court and taking her as his wife, Jahan changed the name of the princess to that of Mumtaz Mahal (the Palace Jewel). During the following years, both lived a story of self-love of The Thousand and One Nights : they walked their romance through the most dreamy places in India, made great decisions together in regards to the country and had many children. However, the tragedy loomed over marriage in 1631, the year in which Empress Mumtaz died due to the complications that arose during the birth of her fourteenth son.
Hidden in the shadows of mourning, Jahan mourned his wife’s death for months, feeling that his loss deserved a worthy tribute. Thus, in 1632 the construction of the most famous mausoleum in the world began , a palace nourished by the influences of the Mughal, Persian and Indian cultures, dotted with fountains and covered by those charismatic domes that would make the Taj Mahal the most glorious icon India .
After more than twenty years, the construction of the Taj Mahal was possible thanks to the management of Jahan and the work of more than 22 thousand people among whom we find renowned architects, workers and artisans who, according to legend, the prince cut the hands as long as they did not mold an architectural jewel equal to or greater than their own. During that period, Mumtaz’s body lay in different nearby enclaves, including a moat next to the Yamuna River , to rest in the promised grave.
By the time the Taj Mahal was completed, Aurangzeb, the third and most rebellious son of Shah Jahan, conquered the city and locked his father in the Agra Fort. From the cell that separated him from the dreams built for twenty-three years, an impotent and sick Jahan asked as his only favor the transfer of the tomb of Mumtaz to the cenotaph of the Taj Mahal.
Finally, the emperor died in 1666, his body being transferred inside the mausoleum, next to that of his deceased loved one.
Since then, many have been experts who have been determined to demystify the romantic history of the Taj Mahal . However, the world still wants to believe in that exotic romance as a reason for the sanctuary in which the graves of two lovers have been resting for more than three hundred years.
Today, the Taj Mahal, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, continues to be the most important monument in India and one of the great highlights of any visit to the subcontinent . A monument that we recommend to discover under these oriental sunsets as a backdrop (and with bare feet ), which will allow you to perceive even more the charm of that love story that still sighs in its corners.