My Google news feed carried a sad story about the declining tourists visiting what would undoubtedly rank as the # 1 tourist attraction in India. A variety of reasons are reported that have nothing to do with the wonder itself – it is the usual mix of the tourists not being treated well and our failure in marketing our heritage.
A visit to the Taj Mahal is an experience that one should not miss – I visited it about 12 years ago as part of our annual ‘get-together’ trip organized by the Corporate I worked with. Some of the problems mentioned today were found even then – but possibly we were more tolerant or more likely the world of social media has changed our expectations forever on what will attract the newer generation of tourists.
It is an amazing experience to see the Taj, as it is reverently addressed by the people who get an opportunity to see it. Enough can be said about its architecture and uniqueness – but even a child would be held in wonder by the symmetric structure that meets your eyes. It is a true spectacle and one savours the memory of it forever.
I still remember our excitement about the trip – it was a 3 day trip but that one outing to the Taj was what dominated our minds. We spend a long time planning our schedule, but the actual visit itself was a real treat – one just lost track of the time we spent at the landmark monument. The tourist guide explained us the story behind the Taj – we had of course heard some imperfect versions of it anyways.
It is a prized cultural icon and it is celebrated in variety of forms including movies, music and dance festivals. It has been used as a successful moniker in many brand campaigns and the positive connotation and association is there for everyone to see.The Taj has provided a majestic backdrop to many events and is a must visit destination for the VIPs as well as the ordinary tourists. And in itself it truly never disappoints – many a visitor walks away with a plan to visit it again. And they share their stories and photos with enthusiasm with their families and friends. In fact Agra boasts of many more monuments that can serve as visitor attractions but none really come close to matching the mystique of the Taj.
This is partly explained on account of the romance associated with it – indeed it has always stood for a symbol of love. No one can really be unaware of its rich legacy and it is certainly on the lists of most newlyweds who symbolically use the visit to burnish and cherish their own personal stories.
The story has served its purpose and apparently jolted the concerned authorities into action. Undoubtedly the challenges are endemic and deep-rooted but a positive approach and a firm hand is required to ensure that we do not let down this prestigious heritage and legacy. It is meant to be a joyous celebration and indeed the Taj has withstood many challenges in the past.
We should be optimistic about its future and strive to help it achieve its true glory again. Most of us end the visit by purchasing a Taj Mahal miniature as a souvenir that will remind us of the magical day when we saw the Taj. Let us hope that the future generations too have the choice to perform this touching ritual of validation for what is one of 7 wonders in the world.