The Taj Mahal India

Yellow Indian Jasper Indian/Pakistani Black Onyx

The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra in the western side of Uttar Pradesh; approximately 5 hours drive south of Delhi or a 2 hour train ride. Agra is a fairly nice place but entirely circulated around the mausoleum and the tourist crowds venturing to see it, so my advice is keep it to one night if that.

The Taj Mahal’s famous white marble and the endless river of tourists

Ok so we all know about the Taj. Nothing new to see here!

 

One of the seven man made wonders of the world and apparently a must see for all travellers to India. There is a legend floating around that the Mughal Emperor of India Shah Jahān (in ruling from 1628 –1658), cut the hand off every worker who contributed to the construction of the Taj to prevent his masterpiece from ever being replicated. When I heard this story on my first visit to India I used it as an excuse not to visit. Dramatic? Yeah, but I thought it was a pretty grim story and the truth is I couldn’t think of anything worse than venturing HOURS out of my way to pay 800INR as opposed to the local charge of 20INR to see a giant tomb disguised as a palace. I wasn’t on a tourist trip I was there to travel, and travel cheap for as long as I could. Four months in fact, so the Taj was out. On my second time around I was convinced to go and yeah you know what its pretty marvellous. Not as much as what people make it out to be but I do agree the entire structure is pretty brilliant, and yes it does play tricks on your eyes depending what angle you look at it. We had a tour guide filling in all the gaps for us and the one thing that really intrigued me was the craftsmanship of the floral detail that has been chiselled into the famous white marble. So instead of giving you the history of the place and lets face it… send you to snoozeville from a story you’ve already heard and pictures you’ve no doubt already seen. I’m going to give you the low down on the floral embellishments.

Oh and by the way I quizzed our guide and he advised me the story of the hands being cut off is nothing more than a fairytale and metaphor for the signing of an agreement by the architects never to replicate the design. But who knows, maybe our tour guide was trying to protect the reputation of the Taj and its creator.

Mughal Architecture and the Floral Embellishments

So here’s the creative stuff…

The Taj was built using Mughal Architecture, a combination of Hindu and Islamic styles, with a system of symmetry running through the entire building and surrounding garden.

The floral design derives from Islamic culture, where they are not allowed to recreate living creatures (anything considered to have a soul) within their artwork, so they decorate using patterns from nature. They were individually sculpted using stone materials from across China, India and Pakistan, then chiselled into the Taj’s marble walls to ensure they would last through the centuries. These materials include:

Yellow: Indian Jasper 

Black: Indian/Pakistani Onyx

Red: Chinese Coral

Green: Indian Jade

Mixed (red): Indian Achet

On the inside of the Taj surrounding the tombs, you can find lotus flower designs made from Cornelian, a semi precious stone. Each lotus is around 2 inches wide and handcrafted using 64 stone pieces to make up the whole flower. This was by far the most gorgeous part of the entire thing for me and the most impressive. If you shine a light on the stone the entire flower lights up with an orange glow. It’s crazy beautiful! Unfortunately they don’t allow cameras into this part of the mausoleum so you’ll just have to see for yourself.

If you’re the type of traveller who loves to tick things off your list of worldly sites then of course you will visit the Taj. It is a beautiful piece of work after all, and there are many reasons why people visit. If you have a passion for history and architecture then definitely this is a must see for you also. As for me, I’m not massive on over the top tourist attractions, but when you arrive at iconic locations such as this thinking you know all there is to learn and then discover little stories hidden in the walls, it truly is rewarding and what travel is all about 

Yellow Indian Jasper
Indian/Pakistani Black Onyx

Yellow: Indian Jasper
Black: Indian/Pakistani Onyx
Red: Chinese Coral
Green: Indian Jade
Mixed (red): Indian Achet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.