Friday, September 01, 2006

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, India, August 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/600 sec @ f5.4, ISO 50, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I know, I know, it looks just like a tourist photo, but I said I would post one, and I didn't really take any artsy ones. But the Taj Mahal warrants special note anyways -- it really is a beautiful building and landmark. And some of the stories surrounding it are rather interesting. For example ...

You can probably guess that the Taj Mahal is made out of marble, but did you know it is a unique nonporous kind of marble. That hardness both keeps the acid rain from destroying it, and also enables its embellishment with inlaid semi-precious stones over much of its facade. When you get close, you would think the designs and Arabic writing are painted on because they are as smooth as the marble, but in fact, they represent the inlay of millions of pieces of semi-precious stones and black marble.

The Taj Mahal is entirely symmetrical. There is even a mosque on the left side, and to keep the grounds symmetrical, they built a duplicate on the right side, but it isn't an actual mosque because it faces away from Mecca. Also, the king who built this tomb for his wife (she died in childbirth with her 14th child!), was going to build a contrasting duplicate of it totally out of black marble across the river, as his own mausoleum. But the king's son (and head of his army) felt that was just too extravagant, and instead had his father placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. So instead he was buried next to his wife, thus creating the only asymmetry of the Taj Mahal.

Anyways, I found it interesting, and worth the visit. Even though that did involve back-to-back four-hour drives between Delhi and Agra, and let me tell you, that is quite an experience.


slskenyon said...

That is an amazing building--and I am fascinated about the history you have learned about it. It must have been amazing to actually have seen it in person--many times, this kind of an image is the only exposure we have to something like it.

Steven Crisp said...


Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you like the stories attached to the building, for as you note, it is much more than its marble and symmetry.

Life is like that, isn't it? Really nothing is as separate as it seems. It is what our eyes perceive (and the lens captures), coupled with its sounds, its smells, its texture, and beyond that, with its feelings, its stories, its connection to all that have been similarly a part of its creation and being.

Nothing is as sterile as the photos would have us believe. We just need to open up to the rich complexity and interconnectedness of all of it.