Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In love with the Taj Mahal

We were on the way to the Taj before 6.00am this morning and standing in front of the beautiful northern gate before 6.30am. There are 22 small domes, 11 facing north and 11 facing south, representing each year of the Taj's 22 year build, on top of this red sandstone gate.

Our first sight of the Taj is so sublime it takes our breath away. I found its perfect beauty quite affecting - I felt quite teary at the sight of it!

Shah Jahan loved white marble and the Taj's white marble is particularly dense and luminous (and translucent too). The decorative patterns are inlaid with carnelian, onyx, turquoise, malachite, jasper, jade and quartz. The Persian craftsmen who built the Taj have left a lasting monument to their highly refined, artistic culture. 

The Taj has been decorated with inlaid onyx symbols, representing 14 of the 30 chapters of the Koran, one chapter for each of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan's children. The panels have been constructed so that the symbols further away from eye level gradually increase in size to compensate for the optical effects of long distance views.

Restrained, elegant yet sumptuous, luminous, harmonious perfection.....what else can you say?

The Taj wove its magic on all of us.

Exhilarated by our wonderful experience our fabulous late breakfast back at the Taj Gateway proved to be quite a celebratory affair.

But then it was to get back into the van and be tourists again..this time visiting a craft centre specialising in the marble inlay work that we saw on the Taj. Descendants of the original Persian craftsmen still work in this highly skilled area today.

This visit took a while as Jennie and Wayne made quite a serious purchase here that needed some heavy consideration.

From here we headed to the magnificent red sandstone fort of Agra.  

This 94 acre fort is probably best thought of as a walled city. It was built up to its present form over the successive reigns of four Mughal emperors over the course of 90 years, starting with Akbar, then Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb.

In the pic below the beautiful white plastered red sandstone pavilion in the background is the "house of public audience".

It was time to mow the lawns of the extensive gardens today.

The gorgeous original peacock throne used to be housed in this canopied space in the days of the Mughal emperors. Housed in gold and inlaid with precious stones and diamonds the peacock throne was supposed to be worth twice what it cost to build the Taj Mahal. Tragically the peacock throne was taken by Persian invaders in 1739 and DISMANTLED!!

Shah Jahan's own palace within the fort is built of white marble (of course) and features many of the decorative features that we saw on the Taj.

For the last seven or eight years of his life Shah Jahan was held captive in the fort by his own murderous son Aurangzeb. From this small pavillion Shah Jahan could overlook the Taj, the beautiful tomb he built for his beloved Mumtaz.

Jahangir's palace within the fort is built of red sandstone - with intricate decorative work.

We then had some more serious shopping time in one of Agra's textile craft stores - kitting ourselves up for dress up parties in the future. Some people looked the part more than others.

After such an early start to the day we enjoyed our return to the hotel - a few hours to relax and try out the pool. We were starving by 7.00pm and really enjoyed our meal at Pinch of Spice.


Roslyn Lawrence said...

How wonderful to see such an iconic building, the photos are beautiful. I can't believe how beautifully kept it is and people even able to touch.
Have a wonderful birthday Judy today. Love Ros & Pete xx

Maxine said...

Loving the blog Judy. Yes beautiful photos. You must be enjoying your holiday. Everything (and everybody) is so photogenic!

Happy birthday for today Judy. I'm sure you will be able to celebrate in a spectacular way.

love Maxine and Rod xx

Malcolm said...

Great photos (fotos). It all looks like a wonderful adventure.. Happy B'Day for yesterday from us in NW UK.