My husband's love of travel started quite early in life and quite innocently. Ron was in 7th grade when he encountered a picture of the Taj Mahal. That very day, Ron started his “Bucket List” – although he would not call it this until much later, when the movie made the term popular.
Our love of travel, especially international travel, was a mutual attraction. We planned for many years to one day take a world trip. In January 2009, Ron and I embarked on a world cruise with Princess. It was a dream come true!
A world cruise offers so many exciting places to explore. Every day is a new adventure — from the monoliths of Easter Island, to the beauty of Sydney Harbor, to the sights and sounds of magnificent Hong Kong! But for us, the highlight was the beauty and splendor of the Taj Mahal.
After an early morning arrival in Mumbai, we boarded our flight to Agra. Flying into Agra, there are literally miles and miles of red desert sands, dotted with palm trees and colorful markets. This was a marked difference from the more tropical setting of Mumbai.
As we walked through the colorful town of Agra, we were struck by the poverty that seemed to characterize India. There were many people to welcome us, and they seemed as fascinated by us as we were of them. The markets were full of colorful wares, all handmade and displayed to entice the tourists. There was no shortage of camels or of streets lined with camel dung. It all added an exotic atmosphere to the trip.
Emerging from the red sandstone gates, we had our first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. It was absolutely mesmerizing! A beautiful white marble palace, a mausoleum built for a much beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Shaw Jahan. It was a stunning tribute and one that has endured through the ages! It is no wonder that the Taj Mahal is one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world.
We had the most marvelous time roaming around the grounds and exploring the tomb. Inside the perfectly symmetrical mausoleum, there are two tombs decorated with verses from the Koran and covered with precious stones fashioned into flowers and scrollwork in the shape of a crown.
The placement of the mausoleum ensures that the sun shines on the tombs. As the sun moves around the wall, the precious stones seem to light up as if from magic. The colors are brilliant! The white marble came from the local quarries of Rajasthan.
Imagine the labor and manpower that were needed to build this mausoleum back in 1631 – 1648. What a labor of love the emperor undertook to create a final resting-place for his departed wife. No wonder it is visited by so many and even regarded as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The tour to the Taj Mahal was truly one of life’s great experiences! A childhood dream realized for Ron. We both were truly moved by the beauty and the serenity of it! We highly recommend a trip to the Taj Mahal to complete your “Bucket List.”