An Unending Love Saga Crafted in Stone – Taj Mahal

There are three things that will intrigue you about India – its vibrant culture, the lip-smacking food and of course, the Taj. Such is the aura of this excellent piece of architecture that will keep calling you to Agra. My love for the stunning mausoleum kept on growing every time I saw it.

A live example of dedication, love and purity, Taj Mahal has been carved out of pure marble and semi-precious stones with perfection. A pathway along the reflecting pool full of fountains will take you to the breathtaking tomb where the Queen, Mumtaz Mahal, lies to rest in heaven along with her beloved, the King, Shah Jahan under the cenotaphs. Taj Mahal recites an unending saga of pure love, far more interesting than a romantic tale based on fiction.

Different shades of the Taj

It is truly the beauty personified at its best and reflects various shades. If you get lucky enough to keep staring it while it changes colours, then the shades of pink at dawn, the milky white shade at dusk and its golden colour under the moonlight will leave you speechless. Also, there are different overlapping variants, which are reflected throughout the day as well as during the cycle of seasons.

Poetry in stone

A fine blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture, this wonderful masterpiece seems to be a poetry expressed in marble. The tomb is not just a universally admired symbol of love, but also, an example of scientific excellence and an architectural marvel.

I recollect my story of admiring the Taj with accounts of its detailed craftsmanship and exquisite calligraphy, not to forget, the references to its structure. From the minarets carrying a slightly inward tilt to the structural symmetry or the perfect inlay work, everything catches attention to detail and nothing can be replicated again.

The imposing edifice

It is said that the entire monument complex took almost 17 years get completed in 1648. The complex comprises the mausoleum itself, the mosque, along with the guest house as well as the main gateway towards south and the cloistered outer courtyard. Ustad Ahmad Lahori played the main architect in the construction of this great building that grew worldwide in magnanimity and popularity.

Standing tall on the banks of the Yamuna River and amidst a sprawling mughal garden, the main monument capped by a huge dome; is enclosed by four minarets tilted inwards, making it appear like a white blossoming flower.

A symbol of undying romance

The splendid building was erected as a result of the efforts of around 20,000 workers who toiled day and night to help the King Shah Jahan realize his dream of immortalizing his love for his favourite wife. He left no stone unturned in commemorating the unfortunate demise of his wife. The sculptors were called from Bukhara, stone cutters were required from Baluchistan and calligraphers were invited from Persia and Syria to construct the grand tomb. His efforts bore fruit finally when the grand edifice took shape with the help of numerous carvers, calligraphers, inlayers, painters, masons, stone cutters and dome builders.

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The Bold and Revered Konark Sun Temple

If you are a traveller wandering in Konark, all roads may take you to one of the architectural splendours in India, The Sun Temple. This place carries an air of mystery as the Sun God seems to have descended on earth exuding the matchless aura while riding his huge solar chariot. Even the time stops here to pay obeisance to the presiding deity sitting atop his chariot with 12 pairs of wheels, which depict the 12 months of a year. The seven horses pulling it refer to the seven days in a week.

The Kalinga style architecture takes you back in time when you explore the temple complex including natamandira (the Dancing Hall), bhogamandapa (the Hall of Offerings) and jagamohana (the porch). It is not just a wondrous place of pilgrimage but a masterpiece that has been intricately carved with details. Here, you will seek solitude to understand the unspoken language of stone and to hear the silent music that reverberates through the timeless ruins. The sweet melodies playing in the air can turn any tourist into a poet and make him scribble verses showering praises on the magnanimity of the carvings, which are scattered all over the temple walls.

This travel destination is an eclectic mix of spirituality and sexuality, which are juxtaposed in such a manner that there is merely a sign of vulgarity as the holy site is full of images sculpted with Kama Sutra lessons. Most likely, the imposing structure gives away a message that conveys the pure bliss experienced by a soul during its union with the divine. The monument exterior consists of the life-size sculptures of voluptuous women who strike seductive poses symbolizing an indescribable charm and delicacy that cannot be mistaken for feebleness. The seductively posing figures mark the overlap of erotic art and the spiritual atmosphere, which leads to an amazing contrast. The art work was a bold and innovative move in the 13th century when sex was a forbidden subject and which continues being a well-kept secret even today.

This revered spot is inscribed with colossal statues comprising deities, humans, mysterious beasts, floral designs and aquatic monsters. Call it a place of worship for Hindus, a site to explore for historians, a humble muse for poets or an unending inspiration for art lovers, Konark Sun Temple seems an eye treat for all.

A fine instance of craftsmanship belonging to the reign of King Narasimhadeva, this magnificent monument was once known as Black Pagoda, owing to its dark appearance and the frequently occurring shipwrecks along the coastline, which is in the vicinity. The splendid edifice was gradually eroded and buried under the sand but later on, it was reinstated to its present form during the British era.

The British archaeologists restored this stupendous piece of architecture that continues to enthral the tourists till date. Though, the turbulent sea waters and the fierce winds played havoc with the ageless structure; still, it withstood the test of time to tell tales of the popular legends associated with its construction.