The story behind one of the most amazing architectural masterpieces in the history of mankind is a love story, and a death story. In 1628- Shah Jahan became the Emperor of India. As a child he and Mumtaz Mahal were married in an arranged ceremony. Though he had other wives, she was by far his favorite. Tragically, Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child.
In memory of his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan began building what he envisioned would be the most beautiful and elegant mausoleum the world would ever know. It took 22 years and the labor of 22,000 people and 1,000 elephants to build. The level of detail in every inch of the interior and exterior is hard to fathom, with ornate carvings or gemstone and marble inlay on every possible surface. It is surrounded by expansive gardens and smaller structures.
Upon his death in 1666, the Shah Jahan had his body placed with Mumtaz Mahal in the tomb.
The Taj Majal is a tomb. A Mausoleum. In the most simplistic terms- a grave. A grave that is still considered to be one of the most amazing works of architecture ever conceived and is listed as one of seven ancient wonders of the world.
Fast forward to 2014– where people don’t want any fuss, bother or expense. They want to be scattered or don’t want a marker of any kind. They want to quickly move past a death and not feel or delve into the pain of a loss.
Is this indicative of our instant gratification, quick and easy, electronically detached, don’t stop to feel- culture? Do we no longer believe we are worth being remembered?
If one life inspired the Taj Majal, isn’t every life worthy of an engraved piece of stone and a day of reflection?
I sure hope so.