Wah Taj !!

20 Years…20,000 workers thats what it took to built this massive symbol of love. Taj Mahal, A Unesco World Heritage Site that has always been on my list of places to visit. A detour to Agra from Rajasthan was just made so that I could see this beautiful Mughal Architecture.

The DarwaZa- or the main entrance to Taj Mahal.

The DarwaZa- or the main entrance to Taj Mahal.

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Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor, ShahJahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal when she passed away while giving birth to his 14th child. Maharaj Jai Singhji was provided with a huge palace in the centre of Agra in exchange of the land in which the Taj Mahal now stands. The construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1632 and went for 20 years. After the completion of this magnificient structure, ShahJahan was put under house arrest by his son Aurangzeb at Agra Fort. It is from here, ShahJahan used to look at Taj Mahal from his bedroom window and remember his wife. Upon his death, Aurangzeb laid his fathers tomb next to Mumtaz Mahal’s.

The Symbol of love !

The Symbol of love !

Special Makrana Marble was bought in from Rajasthan especially for the construction of Taj Mahal. You can also see Red Stone being extensively used .The structure has influences of Persian, Islamic, Indian and Turkish Art. Various materials were bought in from different places to built this massive structure. Precious Gems , Jade, Jasper, sapphire, turquoise was bought from Punjab, China, Tibet, Srilanka and other countries. 1000 elephants, 20,000 workers and the amount of hard work gone into making this masterpiece is commendable. Delicate inlay works, the symmetry, the colors, the architecture, efforts and craftsmanship is salute worthy.

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The evening colors...when the sun sets.

The evening colors…when the sun sets.

The main garden has a water tank in the middle with fountains and gardens on each side. Taj Mahal stands exactly in the middle. Everything is symmetrically made except for the 4 minarets (40 mtrs tall) that lean slightly outwards. This was purposefully done so that if theres an earthquake or any kind of natural calamity, the minarets dont directly fall on the structure causing minimal damage. Throughout the complex , passages from the Quran have been carved beautifully all over. The complex houses a mosque, big gate or Darwaza , Char bagh’s or gardens, tombs, attendant accommodations etc. Inside the Taj Mahal you can see the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and ShahJahan next to each other with visitors paying their respects. The beautiful artwork on the walls, the paintings, the lattice work  and the inlay work makes you stop and take notice of the craftsmanship.

With Yamuna river flowing in the background , the Taj Mahal stands tall as a promise of Love. Its a universally recognised architecture and also one of the wonders of the world.

Change of color to pink.

Change of color to pink.

The colors change as the evening sun sets in and you just cant  stop staring at this jewel of love in awe.



Agra fort – A brush with history.

Agra, is a place full of history, architecture and stories of love & war. We planned to visit Agra after spending 12 days exploring Rajasthan. I mostly wanted to see Agra just for Taj Mahal but Agra fort surprised me. Its etched forever in my memory . We had no fixed itinerary and just a day to go. But I made the right decision to spend a few hours in the Agra fort before heading back to Jaipur to catch a flight back home.

The Agra fort seemed like a regular fort with red walls from outside. My first impression was “what’s so great about it?” It seemed nothing like the things I read but I dint know what was in store for me inside. As soon as I entered the Fort, I could see things that I had read in the book come alive. The huge chain which was just at the entry point was the same one the old lady had banged In order to seek justice from Emperor Jahangir for her son.

The main Entrance of the fort.

The courtyards, the gardens , Angoor Baugh which was the Mughal kings favourite place, everything was just so beautiful.

Angoor Baugh..

The courtyard which used to hosts bazaars for the ladies of the harem, this courtyard was then turned into a lawn by the Britisher’s. The terrace area where Mehrunissa or Nurjahan the most powerful empress of king Jahangir used to sit and play chess with soldiers doubling Up as horses,Wazirs etc.

The well maintained courtyard.

The same terrace which was then Aurangzeb’s  personal courtroom, still maintained by the authorities.

Aurangzeb's Seat...made of precious gems.

Aurangzeb’s Seat…made of precious gems.

Rohanara and Jahanara’s palanquin or doli shaped rooms which was built by their father Shahjahan with a wish that his daughters get married. Jahanara’s room , the place from where he used to sit and watch the construction of Tajmahal.

Can you see the palanquin shaped room?

A closer view of the room...Its from here that the Emperor used to watch the construction of Taj mahal after being captured by his son.

A closer view of the room…Its from here that the Emperor used to watch the construction of Taj mahal after being captured by his son.

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Another view of the room with the terrace.

The terrace from where you get spectacular views of the whole of Agra City with Tajmahal and Yamuna river in the background. The fort palace, the rooms, the courtyard etc the decor of which spelt elegance and royalty.

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The Mughal story was an interesting one and I was always curious. It helped that I knew a bit of history before I visited this place because it helped me connect instantly.

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The massive walls

The few hours that I spent at the Agra fort was my brush with history and also with the characters that had mesmerized me and made me read the The taj trilogy (my favourite of the lot being Feast of Roses ). Even before the guide could tell , I knew what I was looking at , glad that I had read all the three books from the series. This was my most memorable part of the trip. The book gave my trip a new dimension . Even if you have not read the book, go for it , I am sure the place will surprise you ..and you’ll love it.

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Note: There are lots & lots of guides waiting outside to get hold of you. Make sure you take one who is govt recognised, it’s a good way of knowing the history of the place. If you don’t want a guide, you can still see the place on your own. There’s a small entry fee.