Exploring Agra past the Taj

A lot earlier than you get to the Taj Mahal, you realise town has appropriated it in additional methods than one. Distributors are promoting mini replicas of the Taj; inns are boasting of the “greatest view”; cease to speak with an old-timer and you’ll seemingly hear how their forefathers labored on the tomb; and retailers, no matter what they promote—from mithai to bathware—are proudly branded Taj. After which while you stroll via the ornate purple sandstone gates, into the Mughal gardens, you really realise what it means. Nearly like a rising moon, the Taj grows greater and greater until you might be craning your neck to soak up the enormity of its central dome and towering minarets. Amita Baig, govt director, World Monument Fund, has labored on the restoration of the Taj Mahal together with different monuments within the metropolis. “Unquestionably, Taj is the top of Mughal structure in India,” she says. “However regardless of its magnificence, it’s tragic to make Agra a one-point vacation spot.”

A metropolis of monuments

Agra Fort

Picture: Aarohan Tiwari

Not removed from the Taj Mahal, inside its purple sandstone partitions, the Agra Fort homes the palaces of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. The fort appears over the long-lasting marble mausoleum, the most effective view provided by the Musamman Burj, the place Shah Jahan was locked up for eight years by son Aurangzeb. A well-known miniature portray by Abanindranath Tagore known as The Passing of Shah Jahan depicts a frail Shah Jahan at this very spot, wanting wistfully on the Taj Mahal. While you see the identical view nearly 300 years later, you possibly can really feel the pathos that should have weighed upon a as soon as highly effective ruler, imprisoned by his personal son. His solely solace was a view of the Taj Mahal, a permanent image of his love for Mumtaz Mahal. In distinction to the stark and purposeful Agra Fort is Itmad-ud-Daulah, the jewel box-like tomb of Noor Jahan’s father Mirza Ghiyas Baig, built-in 1628. Each inch of it’s adorned with dazzling pietra dura, a primary for India on the time. Positioned within the centre of a Mughal-style backyard, this tomb supposedly served because the inspiration for the Taj.

On this metropolis of grand tombs, one other one manages to face out for its magnificence and import. Akbar’s tomb in Sikandara lies inside 121 acres of sunken gardens, the place blackbucks roam free and birdsong echoes within the lush environment. Yet one more tomb rests within the shadow of the Taj. Within the small, serene Roman Catholic Cemetery, is the mausoleum of Dutch dealer John William Hessing, commissioned by his spouse. Constructed from purple sandstone, it’s also known as the Pink Taj.

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