On the occasion of World Heritage Day, The Humming Notes revisits its trip to a monument that is Indian, but is, indubitably, the most photographed World Heritage Monument in the world, Taj Mahal.
The tomb is the centrepiece of a 42-acre complex, including a guest house and a mosque, and has been described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as “a tear-drop on the cheek of time.”
If statistics are to be believed, the Taj Mahal attracts 8-10 million visitors a year. The most recent high-profile visit has been that of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, who finished off a whirlwind tour of India and Bhutan with a trip to the Taj Mahal. Interestingly, he posed for photos with his wife on the same bench his mother, Princess Diana, sat on 24 years earlier at the Unesco World Heritage Site.
The monument incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. While primitive Mughal buildings were majorly built out of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. If hear-say is to be believed, there were stones inlaid in the calligraphy around the arches. They may have since been plundered, but the lyrical calligraphy and its fonts dance to their own tune on a moonlit night.
In an effort to encourage people to visit the manmade heritage sites in the country, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) makes April 18, the World Heritage Day, a free entry to all the monuments in India.
Text and images by Aarti Kapur Singh