Saturday, November 12, 2011

Agra - a memorable day trip

Besides the Taj Mahal, Agra also has other monuments worth visiting. The Agra Fort, the Tomb of Akbar and the citadel of Fatehpur Sikri are top of the list to visit.

The Agra Fort is also known as the Red Fort. Not suprising given the colour of the stone it is built with. It can best be described as a walled city and is also on the UNESCO world heritage list.

After the battle of Panipat, the Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Koh-i-Noor diamond - was seized. Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar made it his capital in 1558. It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state.

Legend has it that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Musamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.

Can u believe this is a water fountain?!

Don't miss the Taj in the background.

This used to be the darbar room for the lower castes.

The tomb of Akbar the great is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece built in 1605-1613. Akbar is said to have planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. The grounds are a precise 690 sq m, aligned with the points of the compass, surrounded by walls, and laid out as a classic charbagh garden style. A gatehouse stands at the center of each wall, and broad paved avenues, laid out in Mughal style with central running water channels representing the four rivers of Paradise, lead from these to the tomb at the center of the square.

We did not get to Fatehpur Sikri due to paucity of time. But it is worth a visit. I have been there before and totally loved it.

It was the first planned city of the Mughals and also the first one designed in Mughal architecture, an amalgamation of Indian architecture, Persian and Islamic architecture. It served as the Mughal Empire's capital from 1571 until 1585. Though the court took 15 years to build, it was abandoned after only 14 years because the water supply was unable to sustain the growing population. Today, the complex of buildings which include the Jama Masjid, the royal palaces and courts is a UNESCO World heritage site.

Courtesy: Wikipedia
The crowning glory of my visit to Agra was meeting Sebastian Vettel, the World Champion of Formula One racing.

The Taj Mahal - the epitome of love

One can never tire of seeing the Taj Mahal. This was my third trip and I was still in awe of this beautiful monument that is considered to be one of the wonders of the world. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is described as "the epitome of love", "a monument of immeasurable beauty" and is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". 

The white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal but it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials. The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble. 

A labour force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit.

The Taj Mahal mosque

Beautiful embellishments

The Great Gate

The modern communication medium - BBM

Technology never ceases to amaze me. First, there was the pager, then mobile phones that looked like walkie talkies! Over time the mobile phones got sleeker, thinner and smarter and probably smaller. Then the phone was not just a phone, but also a camera and now it is also your office.

Our lives have changed forever. The way we communicate has changed from what it used to be. We now know our friends' moods by their "dps".

What is a dp?
A display picture on the BBM profile status.

I love dps and am constantly checking to see what is the latest. I don't know where they come from but I have collected quite a few from my friends over the last few weeks.

Some of my favourites are..........