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Archive for the ‘Taj Mahal’ Category

21 May 2007: Agra, India

It is a nightmare to be in India in the month of May.  The most tiring thing about summer in India is that the heat is so relentless – it’s extremely hot, sunny, and dry!

My trip to the Taj Mahal started with a 3-hours ride from Gurgaon (New Delhi) to Agra, a city on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Agra was the capital of the Mughal (Muslim rulers of India) emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many and rich Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.

The Taj Mahal , one of the seven wonders of the world,  is highly regarded for its architectural beauty. The Taj is a beautiful monument built by a Muslim Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal. It was constructed over a period of twenty-two years (1630 – 1652), employing twenty thousand workers and costed 32 Million Rupees.

There is a gate which you enter into the Taj Mahal. Verses of the Holy Qur’an are inscribed on the gate and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build.

Taj Mahal - Entrance (1)Taj Mahal - Entrance (2)

 Taj is built entirely of white marble and is said to glow in the light of the full moon. It is highly acknowledged as a masterpiece of symmetry – the Taj stands on a raised, square platform with its four corners truncated, forming an uni-equal octagon. 

Taj Mahal (2)

Taj Mahal (9)

 Directly under the central dome is the tomb of  Mumtaz Mahal.  The entire mausoleum is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty.

  The Marble Art (1)    The Marble Art (2)

The Marble Art (5)The Marble Art (7)

 In his late years, Emperor Shah Jahan was overthrown and made a prisoner by his son at the Agra Fort.  He spent the last 8 years of his life gazing at the Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort,  which is across the Yamuna River.

Taj Mahal (5)

 After the Taj Mahal tour, we were introduced to the making of replicated marble carvings of the Taj Mahal.

The Art Behind TM (1)The Art Behind TM (2)

The Art Behind TM (3)The Art Behind TM (4)

It was 3 pm when we started making our way back to New Delhi…another 3 hours of bumpy rides , baked under the hot sun. But I guess, the sacrifice is worth every cent! There is a stop-over at the Country Inn, where we got to see the traditional Indian puppet show; now sadly a declining and dying art.

Country Inn - Puppet Show (2)

PS:  (Extracted) There was a longstanding myth that Shah Jahan planned another mausoleum in black marble across the Yamuna river. The idea originates from fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb before it could be built. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden, Mahtab Bagh, seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black. A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan’s obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself.

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