Posts Tagged With: emperors

LOVE AND DEATH AND FORT AGRA.

A shimmering Taj Mahal in the early morning. When we visited the Taj, our guide was a man named Bibi which means dear one. The brochure of our trip did not match what was being said to us by Bibi. He told us about the building of the Taj Mahal by Emperor Jangir who built it as a memorial to his beloved wife, Agumam Bimo. (Phonetic spelling.)  She married at 19 and gave birth to 14 babies. She accompanied him everywhere, even into battles.  She died in his tent from a hemorrhage giving birth to another child. She was 39 years old. She asked two things of him, build me something beautiful and take care of my parents. She was Hindu. Jangir locked himself in a room for a week, then searched for a place to build a monument to the wife he loved so much. He chose the spot on the Yamuna River and began the building. When his sons grew to manhood, his ambitious middle son killed his older brothers and seized control. He put his father in a separate palace across the river where he could always view the Taj Mahal, but he was not permitted to leave.

Today’s Taj Mahal is a tribute to the son,  Khurram, who  named him self Shah Jahan, which means King of The World. He finished the building. It is his wife Queen Mumtaz Mahal who is enshirined there. He aggressively protected his domain as head of the Mughal Empire. He forbade Muslim/Hindu marriages and encouraged destruction of Hindu monuments. He was a soldier but his real talent was in the palaces he built. He was responsible for the jewel encrusted Peacock Throne which was later stolen and moved to Iran.  He designed the Red Fort, and the Jama Masjid Mosque.  ShahJahanabad, one of the seven cities of Dehli, he named for himself. He could look down upon the city from his Red Fort and enjoy his endorsement as King of the World.

The Agra Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is built on the Yamuna River, the seat of power of successive  Mughal Emperors. We crossed a bridge over a moat to enter this huge, sprawling place. It is located a couple of miles north of the Taj Mahal.

The moat no longer holds water except for rain it catches. A woman warrior died trying to make the jump from the fort to the wall you see. Her horse’s front hooves hit the wall and it fell back on top of her, its  back broken. She died trying to get out from under the horse.

Windows are decorated in different styles.

It is unclear to me if people can see through them like stained glass.

The fort presented several different architectural styles, most likely built in stages, or rebuilt for the satisfaction of the current ruler.

A tomb sits before this building of white marble arches. We bypassed it for the main, most decorated palace inside the fort. I’m curious and will try to find out who is buried there.

The four sided buildings face a square. The area now planted in British style formal gardens was once the playground of the concubines, their ladies in waiting, and their eunuchs. The last Emperor to live here was Mahadji Shinde.  He had 60 or more concubines, I’ve forgotten the number. He did not have relations with all of them, they were political alliances. Wealthy Emperors were glad to have their daughters under protection of a powerful Emperor. And the Emperor was guaranteed that his neighboring Emperor would not make war against him.

The queen lived in this building which had unique methods to stay cool in the searing Agra heat.

Open doors and windows facing the river provided some ventilation. The decorations are another incomparable feature of this palace.

The grates facing outside collect every little breeze and it cools as it passes over metal. At night, candles or a fire light up little mirrored pieces embedded in the walls and ceilings.

This ceiling had water pumped into four little nozzles in the ceiling creating a cooling mist as they spun around. Done without electricity.

A clever device, that looks like a shelf or storage place high on the wall. Notice how deep the adobe wall is which also helps keep things cool.

On the opposite side, it is actually an open vent from one room to the other. It lets in light from the lighter room as well. Everywhere, there was water from the river for multiple uses.

The Emperor’s quarters sat opposite the Queen’s Quarters.  The inside sandstone walls had a beauty of their own. Lavish carving, an art impossible to financially duplicate today.

A column foot.

A door with a drain at the bottom to shed water that ran through the  building in narrow canals.

The palace had entrances on all four sides of the building.

 

Such beauty with a closer look.

This is the entrance that we used, the main entrance across the moat.

Every little detail is there to please the senses.

Details like this are easier seen through the camera lens. If you walk in and out everyday, would you even notice something so high above your head?  I guess that is why they are wonders of the world.

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THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

Yesterday, our goal was to move to Leavenworth on the east side of the Cascades. A change of plans came as Jim studied the book and called Ford dealerships to learn all he could about transmissions. He settled on one of two transmission shops. The fix has waylaid us until we can get the Bronco repaired.  I’m returning to my China Journal and pictures.

We left the restaurant and enjoyed the street scenes as we walked to our bus. This cute family was mobbed by we tourists.  The wooden stroller is unusual to us and the boy in the middle with a bamboo backpack as well. Remember that you can click on any of these pictures to make them larger and see better detail.

This set of orange bonnets is a public phone booth;  I expect, like ours, soon to be obsolete.

I’ve seen pictures of the Great Wall and thought of it as a smooth brick-like roadway.  Up close, it is anything but smooth. Rugged, overpowering, stupendous, jagged, uneven, crooked, weathered. The section we visited is from 1400 A.D. The wall was started in 200 B.C. We are told the Chinese archeologists just discovered 500 kilometers more of rammed earth wall base previously unknown.

The soldiers/laborers who built it had varying  skill.  This rough,crooked stairway leads to one of the “guardhouses” that were built at regular intervals along the miles of wall. I had no idea the wall was manned. I thought just the height and steepness of it kept out intruders. The wall in various forms stretches over 5,000 miles.

The camera cannot take in the unbelievable reality of this wall undulating up and down the surrounding mountains for as far as the eye can see. It graces every mountain crest  on China’s Mongolian border.

Numerous gates and exits allowed the soldiers and their families to go for water, tend their gardens, and hunt for food and gather wood.  The guardhouses where they lived had very little privacy, no toilet or washing facilities, no doors and no windows, only openings that allowed the cold air to enter.  Life in the guardhouses  only sheltered them from rain and snow. Many stations were miles and miles from civilization.

Only some sections of the wall are maintained. In places, the bricks have fallen, have heaved and cracked or become overgrown with vegetation. The cost of maintaining the wall is enormous and thus neglected. Here we see the drainage system that carries  water away from the walkway.

Each section has an individuality about it as you can see where one worker differentiated his placement slightly from another worker just 30 feet away.

On the Chinese side of the wall are remnants of fruit trees and gardens. The fruit trees have self seeded. On the enemy side of the wall,  soldiers kept all vegetation cleared for 30 feet out from the wall so no enemy could approach unseen.

Seeing the Great Wall was  worth the whole trip. We walked about a mile from one station to another and another. We met a couple  with two children, all  burdened with  backpacks. They camped and walked the great wall for two weeks and saw many exciting sections that we on tours cannot see during our limited visit.  I had no idea that camping on the great wall was an option.

Visiting the Great Wall was an emotional and unforgettable experience for me. Wikipedia has more precise information about the great wall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Wall_of_China

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