Monday, December 8, 2008

Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

November 26, 2008
Prior to returning home, elders that have completed their mission, or are very close to it, get an opportunity to travel to Agra and visit the Taj Mahal. Sister Tanner and I were offered the opportunity to accompany 3 elders who were making the trip. We were all loaded and on our way by 7 AM and got home that night around 8:30 PM. But what a trip. I am sure people thought we were all crazies as we sang primary songs in the car on the way down, including the hand motions. What a hoot! Never a dull moment with Sister Tanner, that is for sure!

Not a lot of narrative with this post other than the basics. The Taj Mahal is actually a tomb built in the early 1600's, something I did not know before coming here. It was built by a Muhgal king (Muslim) for his beloved wife who had born him 14 children, 12 of them boys - a prized commodity even today in the Indian culture.
In the background is the east gate to the Taj. There are 22 white spires in 2 sets representing the 22 years it took to complete the whole complex.

Elder Vanjarapu, Elder Dasari, Elder Joseph, great young men and missionaries. We really enjoyed our day with them.

Going through the gate, this is the first view of the Taj. They say the color changes depending on the time of day and the light hitting the white marble.

Approaching the Taj. Note in the picture above the 4 towers on the corners of the plaza. The tower in this picture seems to be on an angle. Your eyes are not deceiving you. The 4 towers were all built with a slight outward lean so they would fall away from the Taj in case of an earthquake. And there had been an earthquake within memory of the builders.

We had a really good young man as a guide who could also handle the cameras. And yes, those are booties we put on over our shoes to go to the plaza level and inside.

It is an optical illusion if you look at the corner it seems to have more vertical edges than are there. It doesn't. It is flat. Look at the horizontal collars or small ledges and you can see what the sections above are like.

I adore my companion!!

The Taj Mahal is literally filled with this fine inlaid and relief stone craftsmanship. There are small flowers inlaid in the marble, some of which have 164 individual pieces to make a flower about 3 inches across. It was inside where we were not allowed to take pictues. We saw the method used in a shop outside and it is hard on the fingers and hands to grind stone so thin it can be inlaid and fit so perfectly.

There are matching buildings on either side of the Taj to balance the complex and grounds. This one is a Muslim mosque, still in use, and the one on the other side was a guest house.

After we finished our tour of the Taj, it was time for lunch. Sister Tanner saw an embroidery show room in the level under the restaurant and she disappeared after we ordered. Here is where I found her, doing embroidery. I think this guy just lost his job!

After lunch, we went to Agra Fort for our last stop. It was equally impressive. Also built in the 1600's.

After going inside and climbing up a level, this is a view of the inside of the wall section in the picture above. The fort covers over a 100 acres.
One of the residences inside the fort.
There were 2 moats around the fort. Only the inner moat is still visible. The outer moat has been filled in and a road is in its place now. When originally built, the moats contained crocodiles and tigers roamed the open space between the 2 moats.

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