Fatehpur Sikiri…

…After getting up early and fighting enormous crowds to see the Taj, we were already tired by one o’clock. I also thought that nothing would seem impressive after visiting a wonder of the world. However, we rallied with the help of some pizza hut, hired a car, and took the hour drive west to Fatehpur Sikiri and were very pleased that we did. Fatehpur Sikiri is a hilltop walled city that was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1571 and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire for 14 years.

In case you are wondering, most of the major monuments, including the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort in Agra as well as the Red Fort and Jami Masjid in Old Delhi were all constructed by the Mughal Emperors (usually called Mogul Emperors in America), who ruled most of the Indian Subcontinent from 1526 until their decline from power in the early 1700’s, although they were officially ousted in 1858 by the British Raj.

List of the reigns of the prominent Mughal Emperors and the projects created under their control:

1526–1530 Babur
1530–1539, 1555–1556 Humayun (Humayun’s Tomb)
1556–1605 Akbar (Fatehpur Sikiri, Agra Fort)
1605–1627 Jahangir
1628–1658 Shah Jahan (Red Fort, Jami Masjid, Taj Mahal)
1658–1707 Aurangzeb

Emperor Akbar reigned here before moving control to Agra Fort. If you ever go to Agra, try to go to Fatehpur Sikiri as well. Here are some glimpses of palatial quarters in the 1570’s.

–Intricate carvings adorning one of the many sandstone buildings–

–Praying in Jami Masjid, the World Heritage Site alongside Fatehpur Sikiri–


The Taj Mahal…

…Finished 359 years ago, it is still considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the world. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and, after seeing it in person, I have no doubt as to why. Construction of the Taj Mahal (Crown Palace) began in 1632 and required the labor of 20,000 people for nearly 22 years. It is the paramount example of Mughal architecture and was heavily influenced by Persian, Turkish, and earlier Indian design. Made of white marble from the state of Rajesthan inlaid with semiprecious stones from throughout the Middle East and Asia, it is quite literally a massive jewel.

However, neither descriptions nor photos can properly convey the magnificence of this place. There is one element, however, that I believe the photos here do capture. From nearly every angle and at nearly every time of day, the Taj exists like some sort of optical illusion. Even in person, it looks like a pristine painting that is too perfect to be considered realistic.

As you can read on the inscription in the photo below, the Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate his third and presumably favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to her 14th child. The entire time that I was within the Taj and the surrounding gardens, I could not help but think what a powerful legacy this man left for himself and his wife. I doubt if anyone can properly describe the Taj Mahal and I am certain that I cannot, so I will just let the photos speak for themselves.