The Taj Mahal

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After six months of being closed, the Taj Mahal opened, and as reported by the BBC:

Eerily empty Taj Mahal after longest shutdown

My first trip to Taj was about 50 years ago. I only remember the pictures from that trip, and not the trip itself.

About 35-40 years ago, we went again, and I remember that visit vividly, but simply cannot put it in words. Salman Rushdie, writing for National Geographic (in 1999) captured my own visit way better than I can:

The trouble with the Taj Mahal is that it has become so overlaid with accumulated meanings as to be almost impossible to see….I had been skeptical about the visit….The building itself left my scepticism in shreds, however. Announcing itself as itself, insisting with absolute force on its sovereign authority, it simply obliterated the million million counterfeits of it and glowingly filled, one and for ever, the place in the mind previously occupied by simulacra.

Continuing, he writes, before Instagram existed and admitting that words simply cannot do justice to the Taj even with his gift of language:

And this, finally, is why the Taj Mahal must be seen: to remind us that the world is real, the sound is truer than the echo, the original more forceful than its image in the mirror. The beauty of beautiful things is still able, in these image-saturated times, to transcend imitations. And the Taj Mahal is, beyond the power of words to say it, a lovely thing, perhaps the loveliest of things.

In 2019, we took our boys there. They were, as I was nearly four decades ago, speechless as we stepped through the entrance.

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