Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
three centuries old white marbled Mausoleum found India a position amongst
nations with architectural 'wonders'. What is it so regal about this ancient
monument that makes grizzled-heads sit for months trying to appropriate its
grandiose in their canvass, scribes pile volumes of outpour, tourists from
across the earth stand enamored at its sheer elegance. The Taj Mahal -
construed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal is an
eclectic assortment of Persian and Turkish motifs blended with Hindu
The Legend - Taj
Arjumand Banu, fondly remembered as Mumtaz Mahal or the 'Chosen One of the
Palace', was more than a wife to the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.
Amongst his many wives, she was the most loved and trusted. Her death so
crushed the emperor that he locked himself in a room for more than a week
without food. His black beard turned completely white when he emerged from
his seclusion with the plan of immortalizing their love with an
architectural insignia - the greatest the world ever saw. The particular
site was an obvious choice because he could view it clearly from his palace
- the Agra Fort. Construction began in 1631 and took 22 years, toils of
twenty thousand labourers, about 1,000 elephants for transportation and the
inimitable expertise of Iranian architect Ustad Isa, to complete what became
the Seventh Wonder of the World.
Refuting the romanticism that bathes the legend, some historians believe
that the grandeur
of the Taj was far too noble to commemorate the love of one woman.
Though it was a mausoleum, it can equally be a symbol of an autocratic ruler
flaunting his own grandeur. Whatever the cause, India and the world will
forever remain indebted to him for the earth's most beautiful mausoleum.
a stroll in the plush gardens laced around the Taj Mahal on a moonlit night
will do justice to feeling the magnanimity of what Rabindranath Tagore once
called "like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time". A
classic reflection of the Mughal architecture of that age, the monument is
set amidst sprawling gardens overlooking the meandering Yamuna river. The
four minarets, set symmetrically about the tomb, are scaled down to heighten
the effect of the dominant, slightly bulbous dome. Within the dome lies the
cenotaph of the queen decorated in pietra dura and the 99 different names of
Allah encrypted. As many as 35 different types of precious stones -
turquoise, jade, agate, coral, lapis Lazuli, onyx, bloodstone, cornelian,
jasper, garnet and malachite used to fashion blooms of fuchsias, lily,
honeysuckle, etc. So exquisite is the workmanship that the Taj has been
described as "having been designed by giants and finished by jewelers".
The buildings white marbled exterior responds 'with an extraordinary
subtlety to changing light and weather', giving it that aura of ethereal
aplomb. It seems bathed in a pink glow in the morning, milky white in the
evening and varnished in a tint of gold on a moonlit night.
Don't miss these out...
» Agra Fort -
The Agra Red Fort or the Lal Quila is
best described as a walled palatial city. It was the royal abode of Mughal
emperor Shah Jehan when he had his capital in Agra. This was where he was
later kept in captivity by his son Aurangzeb.
» Fatehpur Sikri -
A World Heritage Site in Agra
built by Mughal Emperor Akbar. This used to be his capital and the emperor
similarly populated it with a plethora of forts and old buildings.
» Jama Masjid -
A large mosque attributed to
Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648 during the reign of father Shah
Jahan. Notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets.
» Akbar's Mausoleum -
A blend of Hindu and Muslim
architechture, this deep-red sandstone and marbled mausoleum was designed by
the emperor himself and modified by his son emperor Jehangir. The Buland
Darwaza or the Gateway of Magnificience at its entrance seems more majestic
than the Mausoleum itself at times.
Agra airport is well connected to major Indian cities. From Delhi it takes
40 min by air to Agra. The Agra Cantonment Station has a good network of
railways and branded trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Taj Express, Palace On
Wheels include the list of options. By road, Agra is only 204 km from Delhi,
i.e. about 4 hours. Buses can be boarded from Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura,
Rajasthan and so on.