The Taj Mahal (photos 1-10) is epitome of Mughal architecture in India - famously described as a teardrop on the face of eternity. Even compared to the other wonders we had been fortunate to visit over the past few days, this World Heritage Site was breathtakingly stunning.Adapted from National Geographic: It remains a testament to the grief—and power—of an emperor. Shah Jahan, who ruled the Mughal Empire (with its capital in Agra) for 30 years, had the mausoleum constructed to honor his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after her death in 1631.
The main mausoleum of the Taj Mahal took more than 15 years to complete. (The site also includes a mosque and assembly hall The white marble dome soars 171 meters (561 feet) above a pink sandstone base. Four minarets frame the main mausoleum complex [interestingly these are purposely built 2 degrees at a slant away from the dome to protect the main dome in case of an earthquake].
The finial atop the dome is uniquely Indian, recognizing the region's religious diversity. The finial incorporates a crescent moon, the symbol of Islam (the religion of both Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal). But by placing the moon with its horns (points) pointing to the heavens in a U-shape, the moon and finial resemble a trident—a traditional symbol of the powerful Hindu god Shiva.
Legend has it that Shah Jahan intended to have a "Black Taj" constructed as his own mausoleum. Conflict on this matter with his son Aurangzeb resulted in the new emporer imprisoning this father for the last eight years of his life. Both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are buried beneath the dome of the Taj.
Photo 11 is taken at one of the emporiums outside the Taj Mahal in which marble artefacts are engraved and precious / semi-precious stones are inlaid.
Photos 12-24 are taken at Agra Fort. UNESCO describes " This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques."
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tokina 19-35mm and Minolta 70-210mm f4 lenses.