Chapter 8 - The Taj Mahal
"You will find the Taj Mahal both profound and exciting," Indira cautioned me a long time later as we were strolling down Chandni Chowk. We felt that the time had come to think about lunch after our morning celebration. Lunch also meant such sweet extravaganzas as cakes, puddings, and tea. And that's what we did. We let the celebration continue at a tiny sidewalk restaurant that was called 'Tea Palace.' The 'Palace' was located at one of the many street corners. At this particular one a side street had been blocked off to provide space for a fenced in outdoors area that was anything but palacious. Of course neither of us cared about that. What we were celebrating didn't require a palacious setting, but a setting of life, and that we brought with us. It was our soaring spirit that created the background and determined the foreground all at the same time. There was joy in the air, and it was joy in celebration of something profound that had taken place. We were celebrating not merely the end of old barriers, but more profoundly the beginning of a New Renaissance. The 'dance' of our conversation had became pervaded with the idea of a New Renaissance.
"I suspect that the Taj Mahal is to a large degree the outcome of the old Renaissance tradition that had created beautiful cities throughout Europe during the Golden Renaissance period," I said to Indira while we were waiting for our meal at the sidewalk Tea Palace. "I understand that the completion of the Taj Mahal occurred in 1648, which coincides almost perfectly with the completion of the greatest spiritual achievement in European history, which likewise was built on a new renaissance in thinking."
"You are referring to the Treaty of Westphalia again, aren't you?" Indira interjected with a grin. "Few people are aware of it, though it established a new course for humanity and determined the shape of our civilization to the present day. But as you said, its principle was already known to the ancient Hindus. This makes me believe that the Taj Mahal predated the Westphalia renaissance instead of reflecting it. It is tempting to believe that it reflects it, but this can't, because then something big doesn't add up."
"And that is, Indira?"
"I can't tell you what it is. I can only show it to you, and I will show it to you. We can go there tomorrow if you want to. The train leaves at six in the morning. We'll have breakfast on the train. It's a two-hour ride. We'll get there after eight. This means that we can have the whole day at the Taj. We can take the last train that leaves around nine. We'll have dinner on the train. Taking the train is much better than going by car. And having those twelve hours at the Taj, which we wouldn't have otherwise, makes for a nice visit."
"Is it that big, what you want to show me, that we need twelve hours?" I asked.
She simply nodded. "But it won't be a luxury train ride, like the 'Palace On Wheels,'" she added. "It will only be a normal, air conditioned, fast train."
"What do you mean by 'Palace of Wheels,' Indira?"
"Ah, the 'Palace On Wheels!' It's India's cruise ship on land. India's 'Palace On Wheels' is one of the most luxurious trains in the world. The train is made up of 14 saloons, 4 coupes wit two beds each with attached bath, shower, music channels, and specially designed furniture. Mini pantries are situated in each saloon, which provide hot as well as cold beverages and refreshment throughout the journey. The train also incorporates an exquisite lounge along with a fine bar. Riding the Palace is a royal treat reminiscent of the Rajput Kingdoms. There are 14 coaches representing the decor of the historic Empires of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota, Jaisalmer, Bundi, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Alwar, Sirohi, Kishangarh, Dungapur, Jhalawar and Dholpur. Each coach is made of 4 coupes ornated in the colors of the respective royal emblem and with a variety of fantastic furniture. Of course there is food on the train, a selection of excellent Indian delicacies, all are available in the Maharaja & Maharani restaurants on board. The train departs from Delhi and halts at Jaipur, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra. The traveling is done at night and the local touring during the daytime. At every stop the passengers are treated to the best sight seeing tours in India."
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from novels by Rolf A. F. Witzsche