TAJ MAHAL- ELEMENTS OF BEAUTY (1)
The Mughal Era produced many exquisite examples of aesthetic beauty in the many monuments that were built in India.
The most perfect example of this aestheticism was achieved during the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. He has left us with the finest example- The Taj Mahal.
Not only is the architecture and gardens sublime- the decorative work on the facade of the monument will forever capture the beauty and craftmanship that Shah Jehan demanded when the monument was designed. Shah Jehan oversaw the building of the Taj, and employed craftsmen from Persia, Afganistan and Turkey for many of the exquisite Pietra Dura work.
The technique of PIETRA DURA
Originating from Florence, this technique was imported into India during the reign of Emperor Jahangir (father of Shah Jehan) in the 17th century.
The technique involved complex setting of precious and semi-precious stones, such as Lapus lazuli, Carnelian, Turqouiseand Malachite.The stones were broken into slivers, and set into the marble base. Floral motifs (lilies,poppies,tulips and narcissus) were depicted as sprays, in arabesque patterns. The almost 3 dimensional appearance of the designs were created by using stones with varying degrees of colour. Black slate was also widely used.
Fine examples can be seen in the arched doorways and on outer walls of the Taj.
The colour is still glorious, and the Indian government has imposed strict rules regarding pollution in order to prevent further damage.
double, triple, multiple fares for pathkar
the ticket-man on Taj: "hindi ati hai?"
@rie: "haan ji, koi problem nahin?" [in my mind i said 'jaaa, bitte', just like one of the dialogues in my fave tv series bandy -- band of brothers]
the ticket-man on Taj: "but you are pathkar?"
Nobby: "let me do this for you, @rie."
Nobby: "yaaa, koi problem hai?"
the ticket-man on Taj: "are you indian?"
Nobby: "yes, sure i am."
the ticket-man on Taj: "can you show me your passport, please?"
@rie: "bloody hell, he's indian, not pathkar!!!"
Nobby: "calm down." hmmm, the 'movie-scene' Nobby and I getting quarrel in front of entrance and ticket boxes counted as normal. i smile sometimes, since so funny. but at the same moment, i feel angry too. yeah if i counted as pathkar [foreigner], it's fine >> since the fact i am. but Nobby, he's truely non-pathkar!!!!
and well, about the entrance fee, i must pay Rs500 and compared with non-pathkar, it's just Rs20. something that i will never forget about visiting gorgeous-astonishing Taj Mahal and other historical buildings in India. bloody expensive :) [the day after, i counted, sending small package from India to my country = Rs180.30, still an entrance ticket more more expensive to be compared!!!]
LIFTING THE VEIL, the Morning Taj
Our first visit to the Taj was on a Sunday afternoon. Incredible and a memory forever... but definitely hot and crowded. In concert with our wonderful guide (Rajiv Rajawat - see my tip concerning him both here and on my Fatehpur Sikri page), we decided that we would re-visit the Taj on the following Monday morning. It opens at 7 am, and our plan was to be in line to enter at that time.
What an incredibly good decision! The Taj in the morning is entirely a different lady. And, she's the sort who looks gorgeous from the moment she begins receiving visitors. With the slightly cooler temps, and even a tiny little bit of mist in the air, it was as if the Taj were lifting her veil for the world to see her beauty. The sun had a bit of a cooler hue to its light, maybe a little more hint of blue playing off the glistening white marble. And, the natural sounds of the area - birds in the sky, the sounds of the river behind the Taj, even the gentle breeze - were so much more in evidence than the previous afternoon's visit.
On the morning visit, we chose to spend more time INSIDE the Taj, admiring the ornate perfection of the skilled artisans' decorative skills. EVEN in the morning, the inside of the Taj is a bit stuffy, but that's India in early October. I can only imagine how tough spending time indoors at a four-hundred year old monument would be in July.
There were also wayyyyyyyyy fewer people on the grounds during our morning visit. First of all, it was a Monday - a general work day in India. So many of the visitors on Sunday afternoon were Indian families out for the afternoon. Monday morning, there were probably 1/20th as many people there. This gave me a much greater opportunity for unfettered photography, the chance to really line and set up my shots the way I wanted them. The opening photo on my Agra page is a nice morning black and white study - with some red filter added for contrast. I am very proud of the way it came out, it seems to capture a bit of the timeless nature of the Taj Mahal.
Summing up, the Taj is, without a doubt, the world's most beautiful building... or at least I'd agree with that notion. She is breathtaking anytime.... But if you had to make only one visit to see the Taj (poor you!), then I'd choose to see her when she wakes up in the morning. It's a special and more intimate time, you'll feel the difference. The classic photo of the Taj Mahal includes the crystal image of its reflecting pool. On our morning visit, the reflection was almost perfect - like a mirror. The water was still and with the sun's morning position, the reflection was photographic gold.
Thank God for digital cameras and the opportunity to shoot shoot shoot until you get the perfect shot(s).
Promoting Agra part 1
Promoting Agra part 1 is my idea to stand here with a bottle of Agra mineral water on hand with background red fort plus some meaningless words here, just to have fun, who really care what you did, digital images are cheap anyway.
Photographing the Locals
A bonus of visiting the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort is that all the other visitors are busy taking their photographs as well.
As Indian families gather together for a shot, there are some lovely opportunities to capture the vivid saris, brightly-coloured sweaters and relaxed faces.
These young boys approached shyly to say hello. . .and stayed to pose for me.