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‘Visitors’ PERSPECTIVE I Oh! My!! The Taj

Celebrities Visiting Taj l Impressions About Taj

Celebrities Visiting Taj :

So much I had heard, on all sides, of this extraordinary edifice, that I had fully prepared myself for a disappointment; but when I stood in presence of the noble pile, I could not help feeling that, had fifty times as much been said in its praise, and had it been but one-half as exquisite, I should have allowed that all these rhapsodies had fallen short of its real magnificence. It appears absurd to attempt a description of such a structure. I am fully sensible of my own utter inability to the task, but I fear this would be deemed an insufficient apology for passing over it.___Thomas Bacon. [Vsited the Taj Mahal on 28 December 1835]

Samuel Bourne, the photographer, first visited the Taj in spring 1863, and described it for the readers of the British Journal of Photography. For him it was a dream taking material form, a fantasy, a caprice of imagination transformed into marble.

Edward, Prince of Wales, who visited India in 1875-76, observed that it was a commonplace for every writer 'to set out with the admission that it is indescribable, and then proceed to give some idea of it.

EB Havell (1861-1934), Principal of the Calcutta Art School in the early 20th century and a promoter of Indian nationalism, declared the Taj to be the personification of 'Mumtaz Mahal herself radiant in her youthful beauty... India's noble tribute to the grace of Indian womanhood - the Venus de Milo of the East.

Heinrich Wolfflin (1864-1945), a Swiss Art-Historical luminary envisaged the building as 'On a white marble terrace an immaterial light shell like the apartments of the blessed, whose foot does not touch ordinary ground.' He saw in 'the feminine shy grace of the Taj the true spirit of India'.

Lord Curzon (1859-1925) saw the Taj first in 1887 and found it a 'snow-white emanation starting from a bed of cypresses, and backed by a turquoise sky, pure, perfect and unutterably lovely'. After he became Governor-General and Viceroy of India in 1898 he made 'the Taj his obsession' and visited Agra annually to supervise its restoration. The lamp of Egyptian 'Saracenic' design that he commissioned for the tomb chamber was to hang there as his 'last tribute to the glories of Agra which float like a vision of eternal beauty in my memory'.

The German philosopher Count Hermann Keyserling (1860-1946) commented similarly on the Taj when he saw it during his stay in India in 1911-12: 'A massive marble structure, without weight, as if formed of ether, perfectly rational and at the same time entirely decorative, it is perhaps the greatest art work which the forming spirit of mankind has ever brought forth.'

The celebrated Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) devoted two poems to Shah Jahan and the Taj Mahal. For him it was, famously, a teardrop on the cheek of time _

You knew, Emperor of India, Shah-Jahan,
That life, youth, wealth, renown

All float away down the stream of time.
Your only dream

Was to preserve forever your heart's pain.
The harsh thunder of imperial power

Would fade into sleep

Like a sunset's crimson splendour,

But it was your hope
That at least a single
eternally heaved sigh
would stay
To grieve the sky.

Though emeralds, rubies, pearls are all
But as the glitter of a rainbow
tricking out empty air
And must pass away,
Yet still one solitary tear
Would hang on the cheek of time

In the form
Of this white and gleaming Taj Mahal.

You could not maintain Your grief forever, and so you enmeshed Your restless weeping In bonds of silent perpetuity.

The names you softly Whispered to your love On moonlit nights in secret chambers live on Here As whispers in the ear of eternity.

The poignant gentleness of love Flowered into the beauty of serene stone