Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Overwhelming Taj, Beautiful Baby Taj And The Majestic Bibi Ka Maqbara...Tombs Of The Mughal Era - II

View from the Mehtab Garden which is behind the Taj! All 4 sides of the Taj are identical!
This monument is such a huge one, famous one and everybody knows everything about it! So whatever I write will be a repeat! So, I will stick to only some which fascinated me very much. You can read and comment in the I part here!

The guide, Mr. Rizwan who did his graduation in History and was undergoing training to become a full-fledged guide, told us many interesting things.  One was that all the surrounding structures like minarets were built a bit slanting outward from the Taj so that if earthquake or some disaster came, they will not fall on the main structure!

One more interesting anecdote was...actually I noticed when I went there early in the morning...small small rings on the main dome.  Then asked the guide later when I visited again, who said that they were locking slabs with the rings.  So the dome will never fall down on the whole at the same time.  It will be easier to repair too if they come off in parts.  I had seen this system at the Pattadha Kallu temples in Karnataka, 7th/8th century, in a bit different way though...saw iron rings joining the stones.  The Taj is from 17th century.  The architect was from Iran! Fascinating! Have a look at the rings on the dome of the Taj:

Notice the small small rings connecting the slabs! The dome is 240 ft. high! We can see the beautiful design here too, lotus on the top and coloured designs at the bottom! False roofing is there inside the dome with beautiful designs on top and the sides!
As I told you in my earlier post about the Taj here, this structure is full of precious gems brought from all over the world. This link has more details. Many precious gems were stolen in the later years, British?.  Now, they are replaced with semi precious gems. The guide showed us how to check the really precious gems inside the mausoleum.  It was dark and cool inside but the crowd was too much.  Still, the man showed it like this. Non precious gems didn't glow! This is the reason the structure glows during the full moon day. The gems when light is shone, glitters brightly.

Mosque on the side of the Taj Mahal...Similar building on the other side of the Taj is Mehmaankhana(guest house)
The guide said that the Mehmaankhana was built first like a model for the main building.  Then it was decorated...looks beautiful.  Later on the masons/labourers stayed here while building the main structure.  These people needed a mosque to pray.  So, the other building was built in the similar fashion.  The colour red on both sides of the white Taj, accentuates the beauty of the Taj. 

Cleaning the walls of the Taj work was going on when we went there.  The guide said that what our Indian women use for facial is used here too, i.e. multaani mitti and herbs.  Multaani mitti (mud) is got from Multan, Rajasthan.  This link says:
The sticky brown mixture is smeared on the smut-stained marble surfaces of the 17th- century Mogul tomb and washed off with warm water after 24 hours.
The formula - based on a method discovered in a 16th- century Mogul journal, Ain-I-Akbary - has proved to have such restorative qualities that it is now being exported to Italy to clean grimy monuments there.
Archaeologists at India's most popular tourist site found to their astonishment that the substance, known as multani mitti, drew black and yellow impurities from the Taj Mahal's marble and left its surface gleaming white for the first time in decades.
K. K. Muhammed, the head of the Agra branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, who is in charge of combating the effects of pollution on the Taj Mahal, said tests had shown that the substance restored the marble to its former sheen.

Cleaning work is going on!
Cleaned area...

Click on the picture and look at the beautiful designs!
More designs can be seen in the wiki link!

We were here on 18th March '17.  We came here from Bharatpur bird sanctuary.  A bomb blast was there at the Agra station.  So, checking was stricter than usual.  The crowd was too much. Ticket cost was Rs.40 for us and Rs.1,000 for foreigners! People were asked to remove their shoes too for checking.  School children struggled! My tablet pouch with eye drops and alpenliebe chocolates were thrown into a drum! It was not there when we came back, but at least the security officer apologized:) We stood in the queue at about 5.30 and went inside around 6.45.  Taj view during sunrise was gone! We were made to walk barefoot from the platform of the Taj.  Feet were burning because it was a very hot day! Touts were roaming asking people to engage them as guides promising that they would take us to the grave area (which is open only for a particular period in an year!).  We gave our guide Rizwan, Rs.300.  He was quite good, but was asking us to buy sarees and other handicrafts in a particular store.  He told us frankly that he would get 5% commission! Well, it was a hectic but interesting day and next day I lost my mobile with many many pictures of the designs on the walls of the Taj and the Baby Taj! Lost the main gate photo also but an even better darwaaza photo of the Baby Taj is here:

Picture courtesy: Daniel Villafruela.
This was a memorable trip! If my readers know more interesting anecdotes of the Taj can post in the comment section...I would be very happy!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Fotos(s) Friday!

Nandi Statue at Pattadha Kallu, Karnataka (8th century.)!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Overwhelming Taj, Beautiful Baby Taj And The Majestic Bibi Ka Maqbara...Tombs Of The Mughal Era - I

The Taj Mahal! Overwhelmingly beautiful! Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built this as a memorial for his wife, Mumtaz in 1653.
At last it happened on 18th March, '17! I had been dreaming of visiting the Taj Mahal for so many years now and it was like a dream come true! I was just standing on the platform and gaping, really gaping at it for many minutes! I was expecting it to be an old/ancient monument now, hearing so many stories about it becoming dull because of pollution etc.  Though the monument is given mud pack etc. for cleaning it, part by part, it looked good for me even now.  Work is still going on, you can notice from the minaret being covered with scaffolding.  Detailed story with more photographs will come later, in another post!

A close up shot of the Taj! People look so tiny beside the structure!
We visited this place twice that day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Visited the Baby Taj in the afternoon. The entrance to the Baby Taj was beautiful and seeing the main building,  I was stunned by its beauty.  I felt it was the most beautiful building I have ever seen! Lot of intricate art work could be seen on the walls ...Hmmm...I had taken many many pictures of the  beautiful designs in my Mi5 mobile, but it was stolen that evening at the Taj Mahotsav festival there near the Taj:( The camera was very good in that mobile...

 'Mausoleum of Itmad-ud-Daulah' Agra....the most beautiful building! Every inch is with beautiful designs carved and studded with coloured gemstones. This was built by another Mughal Emperor Jahangir's wife, Nur Jahan for her father around 1628.

A close-up shot of the tomb! This is called the 'Jewel Box', 'Baby Taj' and also as the 'Taj of Deccan'!

This is also described as a draft of the Taj Mahal.  The walls are made up from white marble brought from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations like cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx and topaz formed into images of cypress trees and wine bottles or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light penetrates to the interior through delicate jaali  screens of intricately carved white marble. The interior decoration is considered by many to have inspired that of the Taj Mahal, which was built by her stepson, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. More details are available here!

Every inch is colourfully decorated!

Bibi ka Maqbara (Tomb of the Lady), Aurangabad, built for Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's wife by her son Azam Shah around 1661. The majestic building was built without much stone/gem work but looks simple and elegant.  Our guide said that this was built by Aurangzeb who was against spending his subjects' money unnecessarily!
The above structure resembles the Taj but in a simple way.  The architect of the tomb, Atah Ullah was the son of Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the principal designer of the Taj Mahal. More interesting details can be read here!

My son took this panoramic shot....the place looks so beautiful!
I tried to club all the three mausoleums in this post! More pictures and details of the Taj will be written in the next post!


P.S.: Part II is here!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Movie That Made Me Emotional Today - McFarland USA!


I watched this movie, 'McFaland USA', which was recorded from TV, just now! Felt emotional and wanted to write about it immediately!  As my readers know by now, I am a sucker for 'based on true story' movies! Have written a few posts on them too! This one also goes into that list!

I first watched Kevin Constner, long back, in 'Tin Cup' which was based on another sport, golf:) I liked him a lot then and used to call him 'Tin cup' actor, since I was not watching too many English movies then and was not familiar with the actors' names!

In this movie, Kevin Costner (as Jim White), plays as a football coach in an American school.  He loses his job because of his short temper and pushed to take a job in a small town High school, McFarland, California.  The Principal of the school also knew his background but needed a football coach very badly, offered the job to him.  The town was very backward, full of immigrant population,  so the school was getting second grade teachers who were reluctant to stay in the town and teach in the school.  Jim White's wife and their two grown up daughters were very reluctant to shift to an old small house.  They faced some goondas also when they tried to have lunch at a local restaurant on their first day of shifting.  They settled down reluctantly.

The children in the school were mostly Spanish immigrant children.  Insecurity made them rude to people/teachers.  They helped their parents who were mostly pickers (fruit & vegetable pickers in the fields) and the children helped them in the morning and evening.  The parents were of the opinion that the children can finish school and join them in their job full time. One father tells his son that too much reading will spoil eyesight! Jim White notices a boy, Thomas, running in full speed to school in the morning and run back home/fields in the evening. He was running like an athlete.  He talks to him but he is rude.  Jim White meets the Principal and asks him to give permission to coach children for the upcoming Inter-school cross country race.  The Principal says that they had never participated in those sports before.  Jim assures him that the children are good in running than any other, so they will win the race.  Jim thinks that the Spanish food which is full of carbohydrates and their hard physical work in the field plus running, will help them win the race.  The Principal agrees reluctantly.

Some parents are not happy to send their children for coaching classes since the time they spend in the field will come down.  Jim himself one day joins in cabbage plucking and experiences the difficulty in bending down and doing the work.  He is convinced once again that these children are very healthy and mentally strong too.  Then the team forms with 4 brothers from one family and others.  Jim buys them the first set of shoes, shirts and shorts, though he is not well off.  The white man and immigrant gap comes down because of Jim's friendliness with the children and their parents.  Slowly Jim shows them by blending with the locals that he was not like others who want to leave the town as early as possible.  He tells them that he will train the children to win the race and many more in the future. The locals are very innocent people and take Jim's family into their fold.  He forgets to get a cake on his daughter's birthday, but later on, the locals celebrate her 15th birthday grandly.

I loved the way Jim gave the children the reasons to join the team and participate in the race.  This will get them scholarships for joining colleges too (and they did join colleges in real life later!). I liked the way the locals raised funds to help the children buy shoes, dress etc. to participate in the race.  The whole town was celebrating the participation of their children in the race.  It was interesting.

They win this race (naturally!) and 9 more races later on. Jim was the coach for all the races. The story never got bored till the end.  Well, we have seen some sports oriented movies earlier too, but this one was very realistic.

Have a look at the trailer.  Watch it when it comes again in TV!

Believe in yourselves, team work will win the race, were the slogan for the game!
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