Monday, September 5, 2016

Agra--Home of the Taj Mahal--Oct 2016

The Taj Mahal is not located in New Delhi, as many people think. It is located in Agra, a city about 3 1/2 hours away by car.

This is the main gateway to the Taj Mahal. It is 93 feet high; the top of the gate has 11 domes between to high columns   --22 in all --depicting the number of years it took to construct the Taj Mahal. The Quranic verses "Inviting visitors into paradise" are inscribed in black stone on white marble surfaces around the gateway.

The first look at the Taj Mahal through the gateway is breathtaking.

The Taj Mahal was started in 1632 and completed in 1648 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (the fifth Mughal Emperor) in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Emperor and his wife are the only people entombed below the structure. It is taller than a 20-story building (240 feet), the interior walls are 82 feet high. It combines elements of Persian and Indian  architectural styles. Some 20,000 people from India and Central Asia worked on the building.

The marble was brought from the famous quarries of Raja Jai Singh, which is 250 miles from Agra. 

These marble blocks were transported with the help of over 1,000 elephants.

Gola, our guide, has been telling people about the Taj for over 20 years.

The white marble is inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones such as jade, turquoise, sapphire, carnelian, etc. 

The arabic calligraphy is inlaid black marble.

The symmetry of the Taj Mahal, the gardens and buildings within it are perfect. The Taj itself looks exactly the same from any side. The above panoramic photo shows both the Mosque (facing west towards Mecca in this part of the world) and the Guest House as well as two of the four minarets--all in perfect symmetry.

Here are photos of the Mosque (top) and the Guest House (bottom). They are exactly the same architecture.

The lower photo is taken through one of the lattice windows in the Taj Mahal, looking back towards the Guest House.

These photos are looking back towards the main entry gate to the gardens, taken from the Taj Mahal main entry level. 

These photos show where the workers lived while working on the Taj Mahal.

Imagine feeding, boarding and keeping the peace of over 20,000 craftsmen for 22 years.

The Taj Mahal remains one of the seven wonders of the world--second only to the Pyramids of Egypt. It is visited by 2 to 4 million people each year.

Agra has many cottage industries including cutting, polishing and setting of precious and semi-precious jewels, as well as making rugs by hand.

Above--men cut and polish the jewels.
Below--the jewels are inlaid into marble stone.

We stayed at the Jay Pee Continental Hotel in Agra. 

Very large. 

Very nice.

The Agra Fort was built primarily as a military structure in 1565 AD. It is 1.5 miles in circumference and the double walls rise over 20 meters (nearly 66 feet). Even today, much of the fort is used by military personnel and is off-limits to the public. It had a crocodile-infested moat plus an additional ring for tigers and sometimes elephants. It was built with brick and then coated with hard cement to make it impervious to enemies. The entry we used was a long, steep ramp about 50 feet wide and 400 feet long with the tall walls of the exterior that the defenders of the fort would roll large rock balls down or pour slippery oil on the ramp to keep invaders from entering. Hello Indiana Jones!

The grounds were spacious and well kept gardens with buildings to house military and the royal family.

There are gathering places where people would come to get problems solved and decrees made by the Emperor. 
It was built in 1565 AD by Akbar, the first Mughal Emperor. 

The third Mughal Emperor was beloved by his people. He was the "peace maker"--he had three wives. One wife was Hindu, one was Muslim and the third wife was Christian.

Here we see all three religious symbols built into the columns of the fort. At the bottom is the lotus flower (important to the Hindu faith), in the middle there are symbols of the Muslim faith, and at the top is a cross symbolizing the Christian faith.

Precious and semi-precious stones are inlaid within the white marble.

If you put a small bright light on the stones, they glow the color of the stones. Magnificent!

We put our caps on, took our shoes off, and went inside the Muslim Temple.

Inside, we were able to think of three righteous desires and then tie three strings through the marble lattice work. Here the strings show on the outside.

Shah Jahan built the imperial quarters at the fort so that he could gaze across the river at the Taj Mahal from his home.

Later, it became his prison for eight years when his son, Aurangzeb seized 
power in 1658 AD.

The photo at the right is the view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort.

1 comment:

  1. How Wonderful that you are able to see the magnificent part of India as well as helping the poor. Buddah left his wealthy life and spent the rest with the poor as did Mother Teresa. You are walking in some pretty impressive shoes.