Remarkable, transcendent, imaginative and everlasting are a few of many superlatives to describe one of the great wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. As our University of Wisconsin marketing cohort experienced the indescribable beauty of the palatial mausoleum first-hand in the Indian city of Agra, we were enlightened as to why humanity has held this masterpiece in unparalleled reverence.
When the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, completed the great tomb in honor of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, nearly 370 years ago in the 1653, he truly honored her request of remembrance in symbolic form. The meticulously created ivory-white marble mausoleum, with four surrounding minarets, was developed to be perfectly symmetrical. No matter which vantage point an observer looked upon the magnificent structure, all aspects in appearance and design were identical. From the layered tile, to the intricate carvings, to the tomb itself; unfathomable granularity and symmetry represented Shah Jahan’s love and devotion to his wife.
Before peering upon the stunning tomb, our group was met by the Great Gate, which was approximately 75 feet high, covered in red sandstone and signified the gateway to Paradise. The periphery was covered in Arabic calligraphy denoting verses from the Koran. Interestingly, the letters subtly got larger as the writing moved up both sides of the edifice, in order to maintain proportionality to the human eye. Amazingly, the gate creates an optical illusion by magnifying the Taj Mahal to the viewer’s perspective by putting a frame around the building. However, when stepping through the gate, the palace decreases in size against an open background as one realizes the 1,000 foot distance to the building.
The Taj Mahal is bordered by an extravagant mosque on its left, and a guest house on the right, both of which are impeccable reflections to reinforce the greater symmetrical theme. In front of the palace are multiple pools and fountains that are surrounded by verdant, manicured lawns. The prominent building is ornate and showcases hand-crafted marble carvings, floral paintings and Arabic calligraphy. The four minarets at the palace’s corners were so thoughtfully designed that they were slightly angled away from the Taj Mahal, so as not to risk damaging the featured masterpiece in the event of an earthquake.
In honor of the woman who gave Shah Jahan 14 children in 19 years, with the surviving children including four boys and two girls, the fifth Mughal emperor showcased the purest idea of love in tangible form. This majestic achievement by the great king was truly mesmerizing, and I was so incredible humbled to witness one of the greatest feats accomplished since the dawn of civilization.
This article is part of the series describing the Marketing Centers’ International Trip to India in January 2020. The international trip is the culmination of a two-credit course with the overall learning objective of expanding student knowledge of marketing and other facets of running a multi-national brand in high interest markets beyond the U.S. While on site we visit the marketing offices of several companies and receive engaging case studies on the local consumer, company operations and the challenges of ‘local’ marketing outside the U.S. Students walk away from the trip with a different perspective that prepares them further for working in global marketing and general management.
The 2020 course and international trip focused primarily on US based multi-national companies in India.