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Tag Archives: Monuments

Legacy of Mughal Era – Tomb of Humayun

The impression of mughal heritage can be seen in the form of the great monuments in north India. Cities like Agra in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi are two such examples of it. While Agra boasts the grandest of grand monuments, the Taj Mahal, Delhi also has many tombs and monument that are worth visiting. Humayun’s Tomb is one such attraction of Delhi that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and glorifies the mughal architectural style.

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Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (Photo credit: Een Ar, on flickr)

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Humayun was the second emperor of the mughal empire in the Indian subcontinent. Humayun died in 1556 and his first wife, Bega Begum, commissioned his tomb. She hired a Persian architect named Mirak Mirza Ghiyas as the chief architect for Humayun’s Tomb. The architecture and design of this tomb were unique for that time. It was the first tomb in the Indian subcontinent with a garden, and also the first grand monument made up of red sandstone. The excessive use of red sandstone is one of its prime features. The tomb follows the early mughal architecture that was mostly influenced by Islamic style but also included few Indian designing elements.

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Photo Credit: Ameen Ahmed Tumkur on Flickr

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Inside the main chamber, there is a cenotaph of Humayun’s Tomb while the original grave lies in the basement below it. There are many symbolic elements inside the main chamber like a mihrab design over a marble lattice or jaali that is facing Mecca in the West. Also, there are four main octagonal chambers on two floors. Some of the smaller chambers contain cenotaphs of other mughal family members like Bega Begum, Hamida Begum (wife of Humayun and mother of Akbar), and Dara Shikoh (Humayun’s great-great grandson).

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Path from West gate to Humayun’s Tomb

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There are many big and small monuments around Humayun’s Tomb. Char Bagh (literally four gardens) is a Persian-style four layouts garden, which are subdivided into smaller squares with pathways. Another prominent attraction is the Babar’s Tomb. It is a tomb of the royal barber and is also called Nai-ka-Gumbad. Then, there is Tomb and mosque of Isa Khan that was built before the Humayun’s Tomb. Other smaller buildings include Bu Halima’s Tomb, Afsarwala Tomb and Nila Gumbad. Humayun’s Tomb and many other buildings have gone under restoration to preserve them for the future generations to see.

Isa Khan

Isa Khan Niyazi Tomb

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Glimpses of Erotic Sculptures at Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Khajuraho Group of Monuments is located in Madhya Pradesh, India. These groups of monuments are the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples which are basically famous all around the world for their erotic sculptures. The temples were built during the Chandella Dynasty that reached its peak point between 950 and 1050 AD.

Khajuraho Temple

Kandariya Mahadev Temple in Khajuraho Group of Monuments
Image by John Ubinger on flickr.com

Total area of the complex is enclosed by a wall with eight originates and each of them bordered by two golden palm trees. Originally, there were 85 temples but now only 25 temples remain that falls into three distinct groups namely eastern, western & southern and follows Hinduism and Jainism styles. They scattered in an area of over 20 square kms. A perfect balance displays between the architecture and sculpture of the temples.

Sculptures at Khajuraho Temple

One of the many erotic sculptures at Khajuraho Temple
Image by GrandecapoEstiCazzi on flickr.com

The whole complex of Khajuraho illustrates a unique artistic creation, surprising quality, variety of scenes of amusements, sculpted decor of mythological repertory or amusements. All the temples are elegantly decorated on the outside. These temples are world famous for their exceptional art due to which they have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Devi Jagadambi Temple

Some of the temples like Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and Vaidyanatha belong to the period of King Dhanga, who was the successor of Yasovarman. The Jagadambi, Chitragupta, are the most remarkable among the western group of temples of Khajuraho. Other temples are Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and Duladeo, are the smaller temples but designed elegantly.

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Lakshmana Temple

The Khajuraho group of monuments and temples are esteemed for soaring terraces and functionally effective plans. The sculptural adornments include besides the clan images of parivara, avarana devatas, dikpalas, apsaras and sura-sundaris and all win universal applause for their exquisite, adolescent female forms of enchanting beauty. The apparel and embellishments embrace the winsome elegance and charisma.

Ercotic Sculptures at Khajuraho Temple

Ercotic sculptures of women
Image by east med wanderer on flickr.com

These temples serve as finest example of Indian architecture that have gained popularity mainly due to their precise depiction of sexual life during medieval time period. These erotic sculptures can be easily locate by anyone on Kandariya Mahadev Temple. The sexual art is located outside the temple or even near the deities. It has been said by many people that the erotic art suggests Tantric practices. Many sculptures, i.e. around 10% display the sexual activities between people rather than among deities. The rest of the sculptures depict the everyday life of the people including women putting on makeup, potters, musicians, farmers, etc.

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Sculptures on outside walls of one of the temples

The temple complex also offers an evening light and sound show. The show covers the history, philosophy and the art of sculpting of these temples and so enjoyed by most of the people. Two languages are preferred in the show, i.e. English and Hindi. One can choose according to their comfort and understanding of the language. Thus, nobody forgets any moment spent in Khajuraho temples for their whole life.

 

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A Mausoleum Dedicated to Love – Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is such a popular monument that almost everyone in the world knows about it. It is located in the Agra city of Uttar Pradesh, India and is a major tourist destination. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and an iconic structure of India. Due to its beautiful architecture, it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its beauty is unmatched and has never been surpassed by any other building. This timeless monument was built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved life Mumtaz Mahal. It is made-up entirely of white marble. Its dazzling architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and dusk. It glows more in the light of the full moon and in the foggy morning, it looks pure white structure, which is placed among the clouds.

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The timeless beauty – Taj Mahal

This monument is referred as “elegy in marble”. It is a mausoleum that houses the grave of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Later, the grave of Shah Jahan was added up to it. This marvel of India took twenty-two years to complete its construction with the help of twenty thousand workers. More than 1,000 elephants were employed in transportation of the construction material. In 1648 C.E. the whole structure completed perfectly. Total cost of 32 Million rupees was used for the construction purpose. The master architect of the mausoleum was Ustad Isa. He was the renowned architect of his time. Expert craftsmen from several places of India like Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore and Multan were employed. Also, renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on specialized tasks to build it perfectly.

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Graves inside Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

The monument stands on a raised and a square platform with its four corners truncated that forms an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept in which the each element erects on its own and integrates perfectly with the main structure. Its central dome is 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet in height. It is encompassed by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets outside the main chamber are about 162.5 feet high. The entire mausoleum is decorated with veneer design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems namely agate and jasper. Main archways are chiseled with passages from the holy Quran and the engrossing work of flowery pattern that captivate charm to its beauty.

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Reflection of Taj Mahal in Yamuna River

The Taj Mahal complex is vast and full of several other palatial buildings like mosques, garden, gateway, reflecting pool, etc. Behind the complex, there is the Yamuna River that reflects the beauty of this marvelous wonder throughout the day. Many replicas are modeled on the Taj Mahal like the Taj Mahal of Bangladesh, Bibi Ka Maqbara in Maharashtra, Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But, none of them were able to get even close to the beauty of Taj Mahal.

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Bibi ka Maqbara in Maharashtra
It was created by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb and grandson of Shah Jahan, to rival the beauty of Taj Mahal

Thus, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of mixed Indian and Muslim art and architecture as it combines the elements of both Persian and Indian architectural elements. A large number of visitors choose the Taj Mahal tour only to see this white marvel. Some tourists across the globe come to India only to visit this elegy in marble. So, a curiosity to visit this marvel of India only makes the Golden Triangle tour popular in India.

 

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Intricate Inscriptions on Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

Sanchi is a village in Madhya Pradesh, India. Basically, it is known in India for its popular Buddhist Stupa and its monuments. It is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Many monasteries, temples and pillars are located around the famous Sanchi stupa. The intricate carvings on the stupa illustrate the events from the life of Buddha. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site in India.

Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa 1 or the Great Stupa
Image source: wikipedia.org

The great stupa is the oldest stone structure in India and was commissioned by the emperor Ashoka. There are a number of monuments at this place namely Stupa 1, Stupa 3, Pillar 10, Temple 18, Temple 17, Eastern Area Temple, Southern Area Temple, Western Area Monastery, Chetiyagiri Vihara and Archaeological Museum. They are the unrivaled masterpiece of early Buddhist Art. Also, there are ruins of about 50 monuments. Among the ruined monuments, 3 are large stupas, temples, a monastery and monolithic pillars.

Sanchi Pillar

Pillar at the northern gate of Stupa 1
Image source: wikipedia.org

Stupa no. 1 is the Great or Principal monument of the place. It has many porticos with stone railings. Decorative work or Torana on the four gateways give it a stunning look. The illustrations located in the decorative work depict the former lives of Buddha. Numerous themes are illustrated there that taken from legends and history. The wonderfully carved inscriptions of plants, animals and humans show the unrivaled skills and art of the earlier times of Buddha.

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Buddhist Monastery in Sanchi
Image source: wikipedia.org

All the stupas are crowned with a chhatra. Chhatra is a parasol type structure that symbolizing high rank, peace and honour to the relics of Buddha. Also, temple 17 & 45 and monastery 51 are among the most sojourning structures.

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Temple 17 (front) and Temple 18 (behind)
Image source: wikipedia.org

So, the monuments of Sanchi are the worth visiting site and have great historical importance. Emperor Ashoka built many Buddhist monasteries and stupas all over India to spread Buddhism. Many pilgrimage sites are there that correlates with Buddhism and a large number of pilgrims visit them throughout the year.

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Shalabhanjika – The most well-known sculpture of Sanchi Complex
Image by jamyang190 on flickr.com

 

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Qutub Minar- The Altitudinous Minar of India

The tallest minar in India that attracts people from across the globe is the Qutub Minar. It is located in the capital city Delhi and can be seen from most of the parts of the city. It was built to such a great height (237.8 ft) to commemorate the victory of the Mughals. Being listed in the UNESCO Heritage Site, it is visited by a large number of people. It is made of red sandstone and marble with total 379 stairs, base diameter of 14.3 meters and top diameter 2.7 meters. Its construction was started in 1192 AD by Qutub-ud-din-aibak and was completed by Iltutmish. Several ancient and medieval structures are around it and is collectively called the Qutub Complex.

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Qutub Minar – Image by Sharkawi Che Din on flickr.com

Qutub Minar

Image by AnkurDauneria on flickr.com

The monument is intricately carved with verses from the Quran and Parso-Arabic & Nagari characters that reveal the history of its construction. Qubbat-ul-Islam Mosque which is located at the northeast of this Minar was also built by Qutub-ud-din-Aibak in 1198 AD. This mosque was earliest built by the Delhi Sultans but after some time a coffee arched screen was erected. The mosque was enlarged by Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish and Allaud-din Khilji. Other remains in the complex are the madarasa, graves, tombs and mosque.

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Qubbat-ul-Islam Mosque Entrance Image by varunshiv on flickr.com

The Iron Pillar that is located in the courtyard has an inscription over it in the Sanskrit Brahmi script of the 4th century AD. This pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja on the hill known as Krishnapada in the memory of a mighty king named Chandra. According to traditional belief, anyone who encircles the entire pillar with their arms while standing with their back against the pillar, then their wish will be fulfilled. But, now it is fenced by all around for the safety purpose as it was corroded by the sweat of visitors.

Iron Pillar

Iron Pillar – Image by gwashley by flickr.com

The Minar was used as a watch tower in ancient times. Due to several earthquakes and lightening, it was damaged, but had been repaired by the various rulers of that time. The Minar’s two top floors were damaged due to lightening during the rule of Firoz Shah. He repaired and renovated it perfectly. Similarly, many rulers repaired it after the damages.

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Alai Minar in Qutb Complex

This pristine Minar tilts over 60 cm from the vertical and is considered to be within safe limits. But experts monitoring is needed in case of rainwater seepage as it weakens the foundation of the Minar. With the great history, the Minar is also used by Bollywood directors for their movies. This is the first monument in Delhi having e-ticket facility.

Qutab Minar and Alai Darwaza

Alai Darwaza (Alai Gate) is entrance to Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque

The general public access in the narrow building was end up in the 1981 after the incident of stampede due to the electricity failure on the staircase inside the tower. Around 45 people were killed and most of them were children as tickets for school children were free at that time on Friday and most of the school groups take advantage of it. After the incident, it was prohibited to enter inside the minar. All in all, it is one of the many important tourist attractions in Delhi that are not to be missed.

Trying my luck at ABC Wednesday blog

 

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Konark Sun Temple –The Black Pagoda

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Konark Sun Temple in Odisha

The Konark Sun Temple located in Konark town of Orissa (Odisha) is a popular tourist attraction that is in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in India. This temple was built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1250. Most of the part of the temple is in ruins now. It is called the Sun Temple because it is dedicated to the Sun God Surya. The shape of the temple is of a gigantic chariot which has carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels and is pulled by seven pairs of horses. It was once mentioned as the Black Pagoda by the European sailors.

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Statue of Sun God Surya

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Stone Wheel of the Chariot carved on Konark Sun Temple

The architecture of the temple depicts the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. The orientation of the temple is towards the east due to which first rays of sunrise strike the main entrance. It has 128 feet tall audience hall that stands even now. Other structures that survive today are the dance hall and dining hall also known as Nata Mandira and Bhoga Mandapa. Two ruined temples have also been discovered some times ago namely Mayadevi Temple and Vaishnava deity. A Konark Archaeological Museum is also located there having a collection of all the fallen structures.

Carvings on walls - Konark Sun Temple

Carvings and Sculptures on the walls of Konark Sun Temple

Many kinds of images are sculpted on the walls of the Sun Temple. Some of them are of animals such as snakes, giraffe, elephants, etc. Religious figures are also covering the walls of the temple. Also, one can see the intricately crafted images of God Vishnu, Lord Shiva as well as Goddess Shakti. Women and men are also drawn over the walls of the temple in seductive poses of various kinds. Its fine figures that carved on the walls of the temple made it superior to other temples.

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Animals carved on the walls of Sun Temple

So, visiting this temple dwells anyone in its architecture, pictographic sculptures, serene environment, mythological temples, etc. After visiting that, it will remind you in your life as a nice experience. Nearby attraction of this temple is the Jagannath Puri temple. One can also visit this popular temple as it is one of the famous sightseeing in Odisha.

Simha-gaja sculpture at the entrance

 

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The Deserted Mughal City – Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is an added attraction among the popular destinations of the Golden triangle circuit tour in northern India. This city lies just outside Agra and is a major tourist attraction while traveling from Jaipur to Agra or visa versa. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar during the second half of the 16th century. Emperor Akbar built many buildings during his empire and his unique architecture renowned even now by the people due to which it is in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

Panoramic view of Fahpur Sikri

Panoramic view of Fahpur Sikri Palace

This historic site was founded by the Akbar who was searching for a new capital for his empire. He took a keen interest in the designs and construction of the buildings. Red sandstone was extensively used in the construction of this city because of its easy availability in the nearby areas of Fatehpur Sikri. The resulting city after fifteen years of hard work was a grand beauty in red stone but was soon deserted due to the lack of water system. It remained untouched for more than 400 years and remains of Mughal heritage are available there even now.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri – Image by Siva Vasanth on flickr.com

Some of the important buildings located in Fatehpur Sikri that are worth visiting sites are as follows:-

Buland Darwaja: – It is the largest gateway 550 meters high in the world. It is sometimes called the Gate of Magnificence. The central portico comprises of arched entrances and the largest arch is placed in the center, so known by the local people as the Horseshoe Gate. Outside the Darwaja, there is deep well. It is an astounding piece of architecture of Mughal Empire.

Buland Darwaja

Buland Darwaja

Tomb of Salim Chisti: – It is a white marble tomb located within the Jama mosque’s courtyard. This single storey structure was built around a central square chamber and within which there is the grave of the saint.

Tomb of Salim Chishti

Tomb of Salim Chishti

Naubat Khana: – Naubat Khana is basically a drum house located near the entry point where significant arrivals are announced.

Naubat Khana - Fatehpur Sikri

Naubat Khana – Image by Glee Bean on flickr.com

Diwan-e-Aam: – It is a famous hall of public audience where the rulers meet the general public and resolve their problems.

Diwan-e-Aam

Diwan-e-Aam – Image by SuprateekaHegde on flickr.com

Diwan-e-Khaas: – It is a hall of private audience and popular for its huge central pillar as it has thirty-six volute brackets supporting a circular platform. It is said that here Akbar had different representatives of different religions who discuss their faiths over there.

Diwan-e-Khaas

Diwan-e-Khaas

Raja Birbal’s House: – Birbal’s house is the house of Akbar’s favorite minister who was a Hindu and a wise man. The building has a unique architecture, the horizontal sloping sunshades or chajjas give it a unique look.

House of Raja Birbal

Raja Birbal’s Palace – Image by rustyproof on flickr.com

Mariam-uz-Zamani’s Palace: – This building shows Gujarati influence and is built around a courtyard and special care is being taken to ensure privacy.

Mariam-uz-Zamani's Palace

Mariam-uz-Zamani’s Palace – Image by octopuzz on flickr.com

Panch Mahal: – It is a five storied structure consists of intricately carved columns especially on the bottom floor. On the ground floor, it has 176 carved columns that make it a unique structure.

Panch Mahal

Panch Mahal – Image by Walwyn on flickr.com

Jama Masjid: – It is a mosque which is the first building that built in the whole complex of Fatehpur Sikri. A notable feature of the mosque is the row of chariot located there for over the centuries.

Jama Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri

Jama Masjid – Image by xiquinhosilva on flickr.com

Other buildings of the city include Taksal, Daftar Khana, Karkhanas, Khazana, Turkic styled Baths, Darogha’s Quarters, Stables, Caravan Sarai, etc. So, visiting this city give you the feeling that it’s a ghost city as it is totally deserted and nobody lives here. After visiting that you will never forget the city’s architecture that is famous all over India and visited by a large number of people.

 

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