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A Timeless Story Brought To Life In India

India 020Throughout history, timeless love stories have been passed down from one generation to the next. As a little girl, I read the story of Romeo and Juliet, cherished the tales of Cinderella and her prince, and watched as Jack and Rose flourished aboard the titanic. These fantasies fill our hearts and dreams, but rarely do these ever so mystifying stories come to life before ones very eyes.

As I walked towards the gateway, our tour guides voice filled my head with reverie – a tale of an Emperor and his true love, the tale of the Taj Mahal. The Emperor’s third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during childbirth. Upon her deathbed, she had three requests: to take good care of her children, to build her an exquisite burial, and to cherish their love for the rest of his life. After her death, the Emperor set off to India 036build the most exquisite tomb of all time to house his beloved. He hired men from all over the world to establish the structure. The building was to be made only of the finest gems and stones. The all-marble building was to be perfectly symmetrical with no imperfections. Over the course of construction, the emperor fell ill of a broken heart. His son then took over rule, locking his father in Agra Fort, keeping him from his precious Taj. As the Emperor grew old and unwell, his last wish was to be buried next to his dearest wife. Therefore, his grave eradicating the perfect symmetry of the building and layout, finds the only imperfection found in the Taj.

When I first laid eyes on the building, my mind was blown. The pure perfection, the flawless gardens, the whole visualization is wondrous. To see the Taj, you must first walk through a gateway, which was implemented so only those who were serious onlookers were able to see something so magnificent up close. The threshold opens to reveal the structure. As I proceeded down the long stretch of garden, walking side by side with the waterway, the edifice flourished right before my eyes, the magnitude of the building is overwhelming. Inside, the walls are decorated with beautiful designs, yet your eyes are drawn directly to the middle, the tomb of the emperor and his wife, her directly in the middle, and him just to the left. The vision is exactly as the legend tells. To see the Taj as a building is magnificent in itself, but to see the Taj as a love story makes it come to life.

As I travel around the world on the Spring 2015 voyage with Semester at Sea, I am thankful for these great tributes that are brought to life before me. I left the Taj in awe, I witnessed a new favorite tale, something I will forever credit to this journey.

Photos by Caleb Pietrafesa

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