When I was about 10, my parents enrolled me in the Weekly Reader Children’s book club. I was an avid reader then, but was content to work my way through the Bobbsey Twins series. My library had lots of those. So, I think my parents were trying to expand my reading horizons. I don’t remember many of those books, but one I do remember was entitled “The Road to Agra.” It was about an Indian boy and girl walking to Agra. The subject and cover didn’t appeal to me. It was all so far out of my realm of experience, that it took me quite a while to read it, but when I did I enjoyed it. The description in that book of the Taj Mahal made me want to see it in person some day. At that time I thought that was impossible, but some times things just take time.
When Jim told me we might be going to India, I told him I had wanted for years to see the Taj Mahal, so he put that on our agenda. He’s like that. Before we went, I read some more about the Taj and it all sounded fantastic, till I read some reviews on Tripadvisor. Some people had been disappointed with the experience, citing crowds, police whistles, aggressive photographers, guides and vendors. I was prepared to be disappointed. I thought perhaps it wouldn’t live up to expectations.
I needn't have worried. The Taj Mahal is a magnificent monument. It was made of a very hard marble that has endured for years. It was built between 1632 and 1648, as a tomb by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife. We were told that it was looted by various later rulers. Our guide said they removed many of the precious stones and gold and silver that decorated it originally and all that is left is the semi-precious stones. I need to try to find out if this is true. To the eyes of an amateur and a tourist, the semi-precious ones are still pretty spectacular.