Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Great Moghul Buildings on a Indian Summer Roadtrip

Few things would be more fascinating than the moment when , what your boring history teacher taught comes to life before your very own eyes. I have always been fascinated by the history of(probably everything) moghul emperors who ruled India before the British. The grandeur of the palaces , the cities, gardens and the cuisine (biriyani, chicken tikka etc) that they have introduced have left an everlasting mark (both good and bad) on the history of India, especially in her medieval period.
I was keen to take a road trip in the northern part of India as a part of our annual north indian road trip with my inlaws. and after contemplating various choices like Gurukshetra (where Mahabharata epic war was-supposed to have been- fought), Jaipur, Mathura Brindavan etc we decided upon Agra and Fathepur Sikri as it would be a good chance to liven those dull pages of the histroy books depicting the moghul period.
Day 1
The Moghul history (as we all know) started with Babur and progressed with humayun, Akbar (famously) , Jehangir, Shahjehan (lavishly and lovingly) , Aurangazeb ( hatedly) and ended in a chaos with the last moghul Bahadur Shah. We started our exploration with Redfort and it was really “grand” in its truest senses. The very thought that you are walking among the places which altered or determined the due course of Indian history was exhilarating.
Brushing aside the ugliness/damage caused by those who want to be a part of the history by etching/sketching in the walls to leave their names (mostly their lover's as well) Redfort is well preserved and has well spoken about places like Diwanii-Am (the courtyard which hosted Peacock throne – taken away by Iran's Nadir Shah-) , Diwani-Khass (where Chatrapathi Sivaji was interrogated by aurangazeb), the Tajmahal view where shah jehan was kept prisoner by his own son Aurangazeb. Except for the disappointing guide that we employed who twisted the history to his own whims , it was a day well spent.
Day 2
Our next stop was Tajmahal, it would be a waste of time to add anymore words to describe it and all the good words (majorly romantic) in all the known languages have been spent to translate the awe inspiring Taj Mahal. The Industrialization has not spared its splendour and what used to be a White Marbled Taj and is almost yellow now and my uncle was joking that in the due course the pollution would automatically ful fill Shah Jehan's desire of building a Black Taj (he has infact laid the founding stones on the other side of the yamuna river) by converting its color from yellow to black.

Though Taj stands for an obnoxious (close to reckless) spending of people 's money by shah jehan's (even his son felt so and put him in prison for his last 8 years) , If one may consider the boost it has given to Indian Tourism and the innumerable people who make their living , starting from rickshaw-wallas , guides, to those interesting photographers (who make you feel/pose like shahjehan for 1000 Rs ) etc, I strongly felt , it was a nice investment for SJ for the Indian tourism.
Our Last stop was at Fatehpur Sikkri which was built by “Akbar the great”, as a mark of his grand victory, Akbar is believed to be the most tolerant (but some facts say differently ) moghul emperors of all. Interestingly he had a wife each from Muslim, Hindu (Jodah Akbar – she was talked about more than Akbar by everybody thanks to the recent hit hindi movie in her name) and christian religions, its no wonder that he created Teen-Elahi which he proposed as an amalgamation of the three religions.
I was really thrilled to roam around in his court where he would have been conversing with the great ministers like birbal and the lovely music court where tansen would have been rendering those immortal ragas.

Just to ensure that I get a proper dosage of Indian summer before starting my next travel , I visited a hindu temple in a place called Sripuram near vellore fully woven by gold by a self proclaimed god (man), it was huge , intricate, stunningly beautiful and people have been flocking like mad to have a glance of the god (presumably gold, I suppose) . One would definitely find it enjoyable as a tourist attraction, forgetting the I-AM-THE-GOD type stories. I had lots of questions on the pur pose of the building on the lines of Christopher Hitchens (“God is not Great”) , but kept them with in myself just to ensure I respect others sentiments.

Buildings start their life from the days of their conceptualization in the minds of those who had/have access to the huge kitty (of others) , carried on by the architects who gave life to the thoughts by their superior design (the use of trignometry principles in Redfort) and those poor builders who toiled for ages – Taj Mahal took 20000+ men and about 22 years-. Not all of them are completed and the lucky ones like Redfort, TajMahal etc stand as a proof of the “bigger than life” type imagination of those who wanted to outlive the time and be remembered by future generations. Visionaries like Akbar, Shahjehan have definitely achieved it evidently as no one is bothered about people like Jehangir (poor guy, built a huge library !), aurangazeb etc. Lets love buildings...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight into some of the history surrounding India and it's amazing buildings.