Monday, November 30, 2009

The Taj Mahal - Seven Wonders of the World

Work has brought me to some places that I would never have otherwise visited. During my recent travel to New Delhi, I managed to squeeze in a day trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The 200 km journey to Agra was long - it took us almost 6 hours. Despite it being a Sunday, traffic was heavy. In addition to cars, the roads were crowded with all forms of transportation - motor-powered and animal-driven. From time to time, a cow may block the road, oblivious to the traffic or the honking. One thing about Indian driving that drove me up the wall is the honking. People there love to honk with or without good reason. In fact, the trucks have a sign painted on the back "Please honk". Go figure!

Despite the long and tedious journey to Agra, the Taj Mahal is definitely worth a visit. It is truly a spectacular specimen of Mughal architecture. It's no wonder the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal has a romantic history. It was built by a grief-stricken emperor, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Despite her pregnancy, Mumtaz followed the Emperor to the battle field. She went into labour at the battle field and died whilst bearing their fourteenth child. According to our guide, Mumtaz had a vision of the Taj on the bank of the river Yamunna and had requested the Emperor to build the mausoleum in her honour. The Taj Mahal took approximately 22 years to construct.

The main gateway to the Taj Mahal is the Great Gate "Darwaza-i rauza".

As you walk through the archway of the main gate, you will see the Taj Mahal centered through the archway. Symmetry is one of the key features of the Taj Mahal, a theme that one sees over and over again.

Once you pass through the gate, you will see the Taj Mahal, a towering image of white marble against the backdrop of the brilliant blue sky and surrounded by lush green gardens. Our guide informed us that the Taj was meant to be seen as a live painting, with the primary colours of white, blue, green and red. Indeed, it is a masterpiece. When the fountains are off, you can see the reflection of the Taj Mahal in the water of the pool. The four surrounding minarets not only adds depth and dimension to the Taj Mahal (if you covered the minarets, the tomb complex would appear one-dimensional), it also reflects the symmetrical theme prevalent throughout the Taj Mahal.

Close-up, it's impossible not to be impressed by the mastery of the Taj's builders and designers - from the Islamic calligraphy to the sculpted flowers...When one considers that the Taj Mahal was constructed in the 1600's without the tools of modern day construction, it is an amazing feat indeed.

At each side of the main complex, there are two red sandstone buildings which are mirror image of each other. The building on the left side is a mosque, which is still used today for Friday afternoon prayers. The building on the right side was built for architectural symmetry.

The Taj Mahal truly does deserve its spot in the Seven Wonders of the World. It is not only a stunning display of Persian, Indian and Islamic architecture but a display of true love from an Emperor for his beloved wife.

1 comment:

Sweet Jasmine said...

Truly amazing architecture. Great pics you have here. Hope to be there one day but have to brave the disturbing honking and horrendus traffic.....