OF UTTAR PRADESH
Akbar's Tomb, Agra
Agra Ashok Hotel, Taj View Hotel, Mughal
Sheraton, Novotel Agra. At Sikandra, 10 km north-west of Agra,
the tomb of Akbar lies in the center of a large peaceful garden.
Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed
by his son, Jehangir, who significantly modified the original
plans, which accounts for the some what cluttered architectural
lines of the tomb.
The building has three-storey minarets at each corner and
is built of red sandstone inlaid with white marble polygonal
patterns. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb complex:
one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian, and one is Akbar's
patent mixture. Like Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, it is an interesting
place to study the gradual evolution in design that culminated
in the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal stands on the bank of river Yamuna.
Taj Mahal means "Crown Palace" built for love and is in fact
the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb
in the world. It is one of the seven wonders of the world.
It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631
in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian
princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur
in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their
14th child. The death so crushed the emperor that all his
hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few
When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises
from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj; second, that
he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children;
and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary.
He kept the first and second promises. Construction began
in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people
were employed to work on it. It was designed by the Iranian
architect Istad Usa and it is best appreciated when the architecture
and its adornments are linked to the passion that inspired
it. It is a "symbol of eternal love".
The Taj Mahal is situated more than 900 ft. (275 m.) away
from the entrance at the opposite end of the garden. The path
is divided by a long watercourse in which the Taj is beautifully
The dome is made of white marble, but the tomb is set against
the plain across the river and it is this background that
works its magic of colors that, through their reflection,
change the view of the Taj. The colors change at different
hours of the day and during different seasons. Like a jewel,
the Taj sparkles in moonlight when the semi-precious stones
inlaid into the white marble on the main mausoleum catch the
glow of the moon. The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky
white in the evening and golden when the moon shines. These
changes, they say, depict the different moods of woman.
The marble mausoleum is square in plan with chamfered corners.
Each facade of the tomb is composed of a grand iwan framed
by bands of calligraphy. The doorways inside these iwans are
also adorned with calligraphy. The iwan is flanked on both
sides by small double arches one over the other. They are
rectangular while the arched alcoves of equal size at the
angles of the tomb are semi-octagonal. Each section in the
facade is well demarked on both sides by attached pilasters
which rising from the plinth level of the tomb rise above
the frieze and are crowned by beautiful pinnacles with lotus
buds and finials. The pinnacles ornament the superstructure
and help along with the other features to break the skyline
In the spring the flowerbeds of the paths are a profusion
of color. To the west is a small museum housing original architectural
drawings of the Taj, arms, miniatures and some examples of
celadon plates said to split into pieces or change color if
the food served on them contained poison.
Dashavatar Temple : This fine Gupta
temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the earliest known Panchayatan
temple in north India. The terraced basement above the high
plinth is decorated with sculpted panels. The figures of Ganga
and Yamuna adorn the carved doorway leading to the sanctum
sanctorum. Only the lower portion remains of the spire, which
was the most important part of the temple. Jain Temples: These
31 Jain temples are somewhat later in origin than the Vishnu
temple, but are no less remarkable. They are situated inside
the fort of Karnali on the hills overlooking the Betwa. The
temples abound in panels depicting scenes from Jain mythology,
Tirthankara images, votive pillars, votive tablets, Jain images
visible from all sides and pillars carved with a thousand