Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sites : Taj Mahal - The Icon

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                        Footsteps - Jotaro's Travels                       
Agra, India - February 2013 (A Wonders Of The World Site)
Even as a pre-teen I had been intrigued by the Taj Mahal, (lovingly shortened to the Taj) charmed by its beauty. To me its white marble seems so pure, it's design simple and yet etches into one's mind forever.
So when I got a chance to visit it during a tour to Agra (... see Intoxicating India 2013 Day 6),  it was with feeling of excitement and anticipation. It could not be on a better day for my wife and me to visit this monument than on Valentine's day - visiting a tribute to love on a day of love!

This blog comes in three parts, this is Part 2 : Taj Mahal - The Icon. 
To see the other parts click on the link below:
- Part 1 : Taj Mahal - The Main Gateway.
Part 3 : The Annexes.

In Part 1, we have viewed the Main Gateway, a red sandstone structure which is grand and promises of even more grandeur. At the second giant doorway of this building, we paused to taken in by view the Taj, which seem so far away and yet beckons us in.

We step out into the large gardens, the Taj itself is far away, almost a thousand feet away from the Main Gateway. It sits within a large 300 metres by 300 metres garden compound which is simply called The Garden.
To the back of the Taj is the Yamuna River, and on the opposite bank is another large garden, the Mehtab Bagh Gardens.

At the centre of The Garden stretches a fountain pool which stretches almost all the way across the garden, running north towards the Taj. I believe most of the time the fountains are not turned on; this is a good thing as the best reflection view of the Taj is on this pool.
The minarets seems to be leaning outwards, and they actually are. This is not an architectural oversight but was done on purpose so that in event of an earthquake, these towers will fall away from the building.

Except for some narrow pine trees running the length of the pool and larger trees at the perimeter, The Garden is basically a turfed lawn, so that no large trees block the view.
Two walkways run beside this poll to lead to the Taj.

Part of the garden is flooded during rainy season (I don't think this in intentional) and gives an even better reflection of the Taj.

A closer reflection view. At different times of the day, the Taj take on different colours. During the noon, it's whitish and towards the evening it shines with a slight golden sheen.

Wading birds roam freely in these flood pools.

From the centre of the Garden, two other reflecting pool radiates out to the East & West Entrance Gateways. Red sandstone walls forms the perimeter of the Garden.


It is only at a closer view that it is noticeable that the Taj sits on two platforms. A lower red sandstone platform takes up the width of the whole site, with the Taj, and it's two annexe buildings sit. The two other two buildings are built from red sandstone and both face towards the Taj.

A low carved red sandstone wall runs along the edge of the lower platform.

This low wall itself is intricately carve, with a base that has very detailed carvings.
One can appreciate why they are concerned about pollution that could cause acid rain.

They do really care for the Taj, at the lower platform visitors are required to wear these plastic bags (which they provide) over their shoes so as not to dirty and spoil the flooring.
Okay, we are ready to go up to the upper platform, the main platform, on which the Taj sits.

But first a look up at the icon from outside. The fine craftsmanship now becomes more apparent - marble wall panels, the double cornices of the arches and semi-precious stone inlays. At the corners of the roof mini minarets shoots up.

The main entrance archway.
Koranic verses line the edges of the front wall - an interesting fact, these verses are large higher up, so that looking from the bottom perspective they look the same size.
Above the arch, semi-precious stones have been laid out in floral patterns.

To each side of the main archway are symmetrical wings with smaller arches. The columns have interesting zig-zag patterns.

Bottom-up view of a column.

The lower walls with marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones. On the entrance side the panels have floral pattern, on the other side the pattern is graphic. zig-zag lines.

A closer look at the lower portion of the graphic panel; at the bottom are carved marble leaves.

The floral semi-precious inlaid panel; the inner panel have marble carvings of leavs and flowers.

A close up view shows that semi-precious stones of different colours have been used for the inlays. To find out what semi-precious stones are used see the Jaipur Antiquariat Indian Art Shop blog.

From afar, the minarets seem to be over-shadowed by the main building.
Up close, they are a grand view themselves, each topped up by a domed roof with arches. The are separated into three sections, each having detailed cornices girding them.

From a bottom-up view they loom upward into the blue sky.

Ok... we are ready to go inside.
Although the main archway is large, the entry door is humbly small, about five feet wide by seven feet tall.

The detailing at the entrance door - Koranic inscription at the edges, a semi-precious stone floral inlay marble panel above the arch doorway which is composed of panels of hexagonal patterned gratings.

Photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum area; but I manage to squeeze a shot from the outside, through the opening of the lattice panel.

To the two sides are enclosed alcoves with marble clad end walls. On the opposite side is a grated panel opening.

A look through the hexagons holes of the grating shows the rear platform which overlooks the Yamuna River.

The lower walls of the mausoleum are decorated with marble panels with borders of floral design semi-precious stones inlay. The centre of these panels have carved flowers.

The edges of the walls are finished with mini carved marble hexagons columns. Detailed carved flowers top these mini columns.

At the rear platform the atmosphere is more relaxed. Probably it's the effect of the view of the Yamuna River in the background that soothes and calms the mind.

From here, I espied one of the Annex building, the Jawab, my next destination.
But best I hurry as the sun is setting AND the place closes at sunset.

View Taj Mahal, Agra, India in a larger map

Address: Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India.
Tel.: +91 562 222 6431     Web Site:
Hours:  Taj Mahal Sunrise to Sunset (Friday Closed)
Entry Fee: Foreign Tourist Rp750/- (At time of this blog)

This blog comes in three parts, this is Part 2 : Taj Mahal - The Icon. 
To see the other parts click on the link below:

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