The Taj Mahal - Quintessential India

Trip Start Aug 08, 2006
Trip End Oct 11, 2006

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Sunday, October 8, 2006

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA
Sunday, October 8, 2006

Perhaps one of the most famous monuments in the world has to be the symbol of India: The Taj Mahal. On this journey so far, I had a chance to climb the Great Wall of China, to stroll in Red Square, to admire the beauty of the Eiffel Tower. But something was missing. I always wanted to visit one of the most astonishing buildings in the world, a symbol of romance, power, and beauty - the Taj Mahal.

Located in Agra, southern Uttar Pradesh state, the Taj Mahal was constructed during the decline of the Mughal Empire (1631-1654). Of extravagant and unquestionable beauty, King Shah Jahan commissioned its construction as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Arjumand Bano Begun, who died during complications of her 14th childbirth to the King. The romantic motive for its construction would immediately touch the heartstrings of any visitor.

Due to the overspending of State funds and serious economic decline during the construction of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb and confined to the marble palace at Agra Fort across the river. There, Shah Jahan spent the last 8 years of his life, only to vaguely gaze at its beauty from a distance, but never able to step foot inside the building. His death wish of being buried next to his wife was fulfilled after he passed on, and now tourists can see the star-crossed lovers reposing peacefully side by side in one of the wonders of the world.

Equally beautiful is the town of Fatehpur Sikri on the outskirts of Agra. As the political capital of India's Mughal Empire (1571-1585) under King Akbar, this town was consciously constructed to produce rich spatial effects through open spaces and wide plazas. During a crisis or imminent invasion, the entire town, including the court, harem, and treasury, could be removed to Agra 26 miles away, less than a day's march.

Enjoy the pictures since not enough word can capture the beauty of this region of India.
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