When you think of India one of the first few things that come to mind is probably the Taj Mahal and rightly so. Even if the Taj Mahal hadn’t been a Wonder, we would still have gone while in India. How could you not? Some of the wonders we have visited have been slightly misused in the game, but Civilization got the Taj Mahal spot on.
For those who don’t play Civ V, the Taj Mahal gives you extra happiness and starts a Golden Age which gives you a bunch of bonuses for a number of turns. Did visiting the Taj Mahal make us happier? Unequivocally yes. The Taj Mahal is the perfect marriage of artistry, engineering, and architecture. Just standing before the building and gazing upon it fills you with awe. Then your guide tells you about it and your heart is moved.
Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal in honor of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal. At the time this was extremely controversial, and all his advisors strongly urged him to reconsider. It wasn’t because of the expense; the cost, while large, was a small percentage of his fortune. The Taj Mahal was controversial because it was to be a tomb for a woman. At the time women didn’t have a high standing in Indian society and to build such an impressive monument for a woman was offensive. But the emperor’s love was so great that he ignored his advisors. He called out to artisans, engineers, and architects from all over the world to aid in the design and construction. He employed thousands of craftsmen who over 22 years built one of the most beautiful buildings to this day in all the world.
The Taj Mahal isn’t just beautiful from afar. When you get up close and really see the detail a whole other world emerges as well. Precious stones from all over the world were intricately set into the marble to form flowers and spell out prayers. Walking the grounds and through the tomb I was just happy to know that a man went to such extremes to create such a beautiful place for a woman he loved. Also it kinda set a high bar for me to achieve, so let me just nip that in the bud. Sorry Nikki. I won’t be able to build you the next Wonder of the world, but you will always be the Wonder of my world.
Getting there: Go to Agra by plane, train, or automobile. The Taj Mahal; is the attraction of India, everyone in Agra knows where it is. There are big signs pointing the way. Once in Agra you can hire a taxi car or motorbike to get you there and it shouldn’t be very pricey. There is a small entrance fee.