Thursday, 3 March 2011

Agra, India

Agra's Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.  On her deathbed, Mumtaz's final wish was for Shah to build something in her honor so that she would never be forgotten. 

After Mumtaz died, Shah's hair is said to have turned grey literally overnight.  Grief stricken, he locked himself in his room for two months.  When he emerged, he went to work creating one of the world's most famous monuments.

It took 20,000 workers 22 years and cost 41 million rupees to build.  Artisans and architects came to Agra from all over the world to construct the Taj Mahal. 

The culmination was something that Rabindranath Tagore described as "a teardrop on the cheek of eternity," Rudyard Kipling as "the embodiment of all things pure" and Emperor Shah Jahan himself as a monument that made, "the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes."

Shortly after it was completed, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb.  He was imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his life, he could only view his masterpiece from a window. 

After his death, the Emperor was buried inside the Taj Mahal alongside Mumtaz. 

This monument to love made me spend some time thinking about love...what it means, and why it is important.  I've been on a Paulo Coelho kick for this entire trip and I thought maybe you would enjoy some of these quotes that I unearthed from his books.  Oh, btw, these are all flowers growing on the grounds of the Taj Mahal.  Beautiful, huh?

"People give flowers as presents because flowers contain the true meaning of Love.  Anyone who tries to possess a flower will have to watch its beauty fading.  But if you simply look at a flower in a field, you will keep it forever because it will be part of the evening and the sunset and the smell of damp earth and the clouds on the horizon...and all the things we'll always have because we cannot possess them."

"You must understand that Love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny.  If he abandons that pursuit, it's because it wasn't true Love...the Love that speaks the language of the world."

"If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil.  And one can always come back.  If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return."

"But time, as well as healing all wounds taught me something, too:  that it's possible to love more than one person in a lifetime...You can't measure love the way you can the length of the road or the height of a building."

"Above all, though, we are responsbile for encountering, at least once in every incarnation, the soulmate who is sure to cross our path.  Only if it is only for a matter of moments, because those moments bring with them a love so intense that it justifies the rest of our days."

"Go in search of your Gift.  I can't go with you today, but don't be afraid.  The more you understand yourself, the more you will understand the world.  And the closer you will be to your soulmate."

"'Does he love me?'
'You're asking the wrong question.  What you need to know is, are you in a position to give him the love he needs.  And whatever happens or doesn't happen will be equally gratifying.  Knowing that you are capable of love is enough."

And my personal favorite:
"Love simply is."


  1. Wonderful, Lori, I love seeing you filling your dream despite the initial hesitation. Great pics and stories, I look forward to following your journey. Take care, Liisa.

  2. Liisa, thanks for always being so supportive of my writing and my dreams. It means a lot to me. I hope that you are doing well, friend. Keep in touch!