The pages of history are adorned with stories of love, loss and despair. While some waged wars for love, others immortalised it in brick and mortar. Today, these monuments stand tall as portraits of endurance of great men and women. Exuding love like wisps of fresh air, they narrate the saga of unrequited love.
Such is love’s endearing quality that it surpasses the harsh realities of stereotypical societies. It wins over the biggest test that life throws–the test of time. Take a trip down this lane and we promise these stories will move you to tears, and perhaps, make you fall in love all over again.
A tale of unreciprocated affection
It is said love can move mountains. Unfortunately, this was not the case in Lord Maurice Egerton’s story, who failed miserably to woo the woman of his dreams. Legend has it he fell in love with an Austrian woman when he was touring England. Enamoured by her beauty, he set out to confess his affection, only to be rejected because he was living in a six-bedroom thatched roof house, which she compared to a dog’s kennel. Though devastated, he did not lose hope and vowed to build something majestic and express his love again. Between the years 1930 and 1940, he built a mammoth 53-room castle, spread across 100 acres, and proposed to her. To his utter dismay, she dismissed the castle as a museum. Dejected, Egerton vowed never to marry. He, in fact, asked his servants to keep other women away from the castle and lived there alone till the end of his life. This saga is said be one of the biggest tragedies of colonial Kenya.
He walked across Africa for her
When you are in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. Ewart Grogan proved this at the age of 24. He set out on an expedition from The Cape of Good Hope to Cairo to prove his worth to the stepfather of his lady love Gertrude Watt. Finishing the walk along the length and breadth of Africa in two-and-a-half years, he returned home to a hero’s welcome and married Gertrude. Forty years later, following her death, Grogan built Gertrude Children’s Hospital in her memory and dedicated it to the children of East Africa in 1947.
These men and women had no lofty aspirations, just a big heart to keep the memories of their loved ones alive.
A queen’s tribute
There are umpteen stories of kings building monuments for their queens, but the story of Rani-ki-Vav or the queen’s stepwell in Gujarat is unique. In the 11th century AD, Queen Udaymati had the inverted stepwell built as a memorial to her beloved King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The beautifully sculpted walls and pillars of Rani-ki-Vav narrate stories of the various avatars of Lord Vishnu. Situated on the banks of river Saraswati, this masterpiece is a monument built with love and longing.
A gift to mankind
It is said, ‘There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world’. This is true in the case of Leland Stanford Jr. When the only son of Leland Stanford and Jane Lathrop Stanford passed away at 16, the Stanfords decided to dedicate their life to building a university in his memory. In 1885, the Stanford University was thrown open to students. Losing a child is heart breaking, but it takes a lot of courage to turn grief into something so great that it benefits thousands of children.
The grand mausoleum
The Taj Mahal stands as the most poignant monument of love. The 14-year-old prince Shah Jahan fell in love with the Persian princess Mumtaz Mahal and their marriage was solemnised after five years. Though he had other wives, Mumtaz was his favourite. Their happy life came to an abrupt end when Mumtaz died of complications during childbirth. Shah Jahan promised his dying wife that he would build a mausoleum so grand and unique, there would be no other in the days to come. Taking inspiration from the Quran, he built the Taj Mahal on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra. The white marble complex is a blend of Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture, and till date, there has been no other that matches up to it.
The things we do for love
Famous poet Maya Angelou was right when she said, “Love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Across time, some have built monuments in memory of their loved ones, some have dedicated their lives for the welfare of fellow beings, while others have spent their lives living in those memories. These men and women had no lofty aspirations, just a big heart to keep the memories of their loved ones alive. With sheer dedication and devotion, they immortalised love and proved to the world that love transcends all.