Dodging the Taj Mahal Crowds

AGRA, India — In my mind’s eye the Taj Mahal existed in a timeless, alternate dimension where the structure is desolate, the sunlight is just so and the weather is always perfect.

Alas, reality is a bit different.

After a moment of quiet reflection at the entrance, I put some distance between myself and the other visitors to the 17th century Mughal monument. Soaking it in for a couple of minutes, I walked toward it as if in a dream, though soon the crowds began to intrude on my postcard-like image.

Yet if there was one thing I learned in my overcrowded New York City yoga classes, it was that one’s experience was personal — and with one’s mind stilled, nothing else mattered.

With that thought, I let go of the idea that I might alone witness the postcard version of Emperor Shah Jahan‘s eternal tribute in stone to wife Mumtaz Mahal. I allowed myself to be present in the shadow of the Islamic architecture before me.

Soon enough, the crowds mostly cleared ahead of me — and I saw it for a moment in its perfect solitude.

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