ok - more on the taj mahal. we endured 6 hours of crazy taxi driving
each way to see it.for 90 minutes of viewing. was it worth it?
you bet it was! it was stunning, magnificant, awesome.
first of all, the history. "Mum Taj Mahal" is the nickname Shah Jehan
(son of Akbar) gave to his third wife (a good Muslim, he had four). She
bore Shah Jehan all 14 of his children. She was deeply loved by the Shah
Jehan (that means King of the World), and travelled with him everywhere.
She died at the age of 39, while giving birth to the 14th child.
Shah Jehan never remarried, and spent the next 22 years building this
tomb for her. he hired an architect from turkey, and an engineer from
iran, who designed the Taj Mahal. He hired 20,000 Muslims to build it,
and spent 65 million rupees for their labor (today's $8.4 billion US)
to build the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is constructed out of white marble. all the designs and
inscriptions are made by inlaying semi-precious stones into the marble,
including jade, onyx, black marble, lapiz lazuli, mother of pearl, abalone
shells, etc. the effect of the translucent marble mixed with these stones
is breathtaking! the Taj Mahal changes colors based on the time of day:
pink at sunrise, white/yellow during the day, ivory in the moonlight.
what i thought was the most impressive part, though, was the symmetry
and the mathematical preciseness of it all. standing in the center of
the gate 400 meters away from the taj, you have a perfect view, framed
by the inner door of the gate. walking closer to the relecting pools,
you see every part of it designed perfectly to make all the architectural
lines come together. what incredible planning! And to think that these
guys were building this while the Pilgrims were trying to survive. It
boggles the mind.
anyway, it was awesome. we had a really good tour guide who gave us lots
of history, and who knew all the great spots to stand for the perfect
i've enclosed the following pictures:
1) the taj mahal from the reflecting
pool. This beast is huge: the base is 100 meters square, the platform
is 6 meters tall, the cresent on top is 10 meters. Total height:
2) the taj mahal carvings. each
line you see is inlaid semi-precious stones 3 mm. thick
3) the taj mahal framed by one of the
4) this is a group of Muslim direct descendants
from the original workers, who pass down through the generations how to
do this kind of work. we saw
them at a government sponsored factory.