the Taj Mahal

Once I finally cleared the queue outside and was able to make it into the Taj complex I worked my way towards one of the gates (below).

View of the Taj Mahal was blocked by the tall wall that ran from gate to gate so that it could not be seen at all until you walked through the gate.

Along with all of the other tourists, I peered through the dark gate to see the glowing white Taj Mahal as it peeked through the tunnel.  The way it was hidden from view until you came through the gateway was quite clever.  As I (and the rest of the tourists) passed through the gate and the Taj came into full view I could hear audible “oohs” and “aaahs,” as we all gazed upon the magical beauty of this amazing building.

Once clear of the main gate the Taj came into full view and I paused to take some photos.  The grounds were green and manicured to perfection; beautiful fountains ran from the entrance gate to the front of it and the beauty of the place was really something else.  I was truly awe-struck by the beauty of it.  As I walked closer I enjoyed the view of the Taj as well as its reflection in the beautiful fountains that surrounded it.

Looking back from the Taj Mahal towards the entrance gate, I shot the photo below that shows the courtyard and fountains.  Looking towards the right I took the second photo of the west gate as the sun began to set behind it.

Regarded as the most beautiful Moghul building, the Taj Mahal incorporates Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.  It is actually a crypt for the body of Mumtaz Mahal, the late wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.  It’s construction was begun in 1632 and completed in 1658.  When Mumtaz Mahal died bearing their 14th child, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken and directed the Taj to be build in her honor.  Her sarcophagus lays inside where today, curious tourists go inside and ignore the signs and guards warnings not to take photos.  There were so many flash photos going off that the room was almost continually illuminated.  Later, after his death, he was interred next to her so that both the Emperor and Empress now rest inside of the beautiful white domed building.

He had intended to build an exact copy of the building on the other side of the river, but in black marble and have his own body placed inside.  In this way, he and his wife’s crypts would look across the river to each other through the ages.  His son thought that these plans were too extravagant and had his father imprisoned in the Red Fort forever ending the Emperor’s plans to build a second Taj.  In proper Islamic style, the Taj is surrounded by 4 minarets, each standing more than 120′ tall.

I was most impressed with the decorative inlays on the Taj.  The fine white marble was cut and beautiful jade, yellow marble, and jasper were inlaid creating a fine trim as I have ever seen.

Along the edges of the building, Suras (versus) of the Koran are inlaid in the same manner as the decorative designs and flowers.

The beautiful Arabic calligraphy (seen running vertically in the left side of the photo below) that was inlaid represent these Suras from the Koran:

Surah 91 – The Sun
Surah 112 – The Purity of Faith
Surah 89 – Daybreak
Surah 93 – Morning Light
Surah 95 – The Fig
Surah 94 – The Solace
Surah 36 – Ya Sin
Surah 81 – The Folding Up
Surah 82 – The Cleaving Asunder
Surah 84 – The Rending Asunder
Surah 98 – The Evidence
Surah 67 – Dominion
Surah 48 – Victory
Surah 77 – Those Sent Forth
Surah 39 – The Crowds

After spending hours gazing at the beauty of the Taj Mahal, the guards notified everyone that it was closing.  We all took our leisure as we slowly walked towards the exit.  I stopped repeatedly to look back and gaze at it as the sun set and it glowed in the dim light of dusk.  I rested my camera on one of the fountain steps and captured this photo before I finally departed.


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getting around in India

I could write pages about the difficulties in getting around India.  But I think that these photos speak best for themselves.  I just remember after a few weeks “holiday” in Inida thinking that I needed a vacation to “recover.”


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Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is located on a pre-historic site with archaeological evidence dating to the 2nd millenium BC.  One of the Moghul leaders, Babar, won an important battle here in 1527 AD and later, his grandson, the great leader Akbar moved the capital from Agra.  The Sufi Saint Salim Chishti resided highly revered this area as a holy spot adding to the prestige of the location.  That this was a holy spot further influenced Babar when he selected the site for his capital.  Most of the buildings that are now at the site were constructed between 1572-1585 and are made of local red sandstone that is quarried nearby.

The grounds at the site were immaculately groomed and there were very few people around.  It was nice to be able to roam around the ancient buildings without any crowds & without any organized “supervision.”

The designs of the Imperial grounds were quite elaborate including the capital structure, administrative buildings, and housing for the ruler and his family.  The buildings were in wonderful condition owing to the site being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The detail inside of the buildings was very intricate with a great amount of detail in the facades and stone carving.  I was very impressed with not only the beautiful stonework, but also that the site has remained in such good condition.  I really enjoyed wandering about the 500-year-old buildings.

On the west side of the palace complex lies the great Jami Masjid Mosque.  Inside the main courtyard by the mosque lies Salim Chishti’s tomb (top photo and below).

Inside the eves of the walkways, hundreds of local craftsmen created handiworks of all kinds.  The prices, while relatively inexpensive dropped to only 10 or 20% of the original asking price after I continued strolling by (I wasn’t in the market to buy anything).  But, considering the “new” lower prices, I decided to buy a pair of sandstone carved candle holders.  Only one of the two survived the ride home in my luggage.  The second of the two fragile pieces broke into a hundred pieces after passing through several airport screenings and many baggage handlers.

Later, while I was in Agra, I found that I had still overpaid for these candle holders by two or three hundred percent…

It was in these courtyards that Akbar’s court theologians debated the different religions.  Akbar invited religious leaders from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and many more.  They debated the differences of each religion and tried to find common ground in all religions.  Akbar later determined that it was wrong to try and press one’s religious views on another or cause them to change their faith.


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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