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Ajanta and Ellora Caves – witness to the spirit of tolerance among faiths

Ajanta Ellora Caves

Ajanta Ellora caves are the two most famous caves of India that are included in the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage. These are situated in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. Ajanta caves are spread over 8,242 hectares, one of the finest examples of Ancient Indian Art that has survived so far. Let’s read about these astonishing caves to enhance your knowledge further.

The Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are situated north of Aurangabad in Maharashtra. They get their name from the village of Ajanta that is located nearby. The caves were discovered in 1819 by a British army officer. He stumbled on them by accident, during a hunting expedition.

The caves are carved out of a horseshoe-shaped rock surface that overlooks a stream, and this cliff is nearly 76 meters tall. There are 31 caves in all, and it is believed that they were carved in the 2nd century BC as a retreat for Buddhist monks during the rainy season. They were used as prayer halls for about nine centuries, and then abruptly abandoned. Today, the caves are an important tourist destination and are famous for their magnificent murals.

The Ajanta Caves are important because they include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art. Some paintings reflect the Theravada tradition of depicting the Buddha only in symbolic forms such as a throne or footprints. Others feature colorful murals and statues depicting the life of the Buddha and various Bodhisattvas.

There are also frescos that are reminiscent of the paintings found in Sri Lanka, and some of the caves depict scenes from everyday life and inscriptions. Inspired by faith and devotion, each figure has been carved by the monks using just hammer and chisel. The caves of Ajanta reflect the achievements of the Gupta and post-Gupta period in Indian history. They tell us the story of a rich and glorious past.

The Ellora Caves

The Ellora Caves are a series of ancient temples and monasteries hewn into the side of the Charnadari Hill in the Deccan Plateau. India is the birthplace of three world religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Historically speaking, the emergence of Ellora coincided with the decline of Buddhism, and a Hindu renaissance in AD 7th and 9th centuries in India.

The Ellora Caves fall into three distinct groups, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain. There are twelve Buddhist caves, and the first nine Buddhist caves are variations of viharas or monasteries, filled with figures of Lord Buddha, and scenes from Buddhist mythology.

Ellora Caves

The Hindu Caves are seventeen in number and represent the peak of Ellora’s development. They contain impressive sculptures of deities from the Hindu pantheon. There are five Jain caves. They are simpler than the other caves, but are just as inspiring, with elephants and lions coming to life in their depths. There is no doubt that the Ellora Caves bear witness to the spirit of tolerance among faiths.

Why are they Important?

The EIIora Caves are important because they follow the development of religious thought in India through the decline of Buddhism in the latter half of the 8th century to the Hindu renaissance that followed the return of the Gupta dynasty, and then the Jain resurgence between the 9th and 11th centuries.

The Buddhist caves are monastery halls, which the monks used for study, solitary meditation, and communal worship, as well as for their daily activities like eating and sleeping. The Hindu caves present another world. They are profusely sculptured with Shiva and Vishnu images. They begin with Shiva killing a demon and moving in a clockwise direction, they end with Vishnu as the man-lion Narasimha.

These caves lie in the center of the group and are the most numerous. The Jain caves are the simplest and radiate an aura of peace. The main idols in the Ellora Caves in all the three groups are larger than life-size. Ellora has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Tin Tala is the 12th Buddh ist cave in Ellora. It is at first glance, rather plain, with unadorned pillars and sculpted panels only on the inner walls. However, it is breathtaking in that this three-story structure was completely fashioned by human hands, without the aid of any machines. It is a monastery cum chapel that has been painstakingly carved to house forty monks. Its floors and ceilings are smooth and leveled, and it is, without doubt, a tribute to the architectural skill of the Buddhist monks in the 8th century.

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Architecture

Top 10 most famous landmarks in USA that everyone must visit

Popular-Places-Landmarks-in-the-United-States-White-House

Famous Landmarks in the USA: A landmark basically means something conspicuous that marks a place. It can be anything that’s easily recognized from a distance, that has historical, cultural, or aesthetic importance. It could be a natural feature of a landscape or even a man-made structure. We use the word ‘landmark’ also to mean a significant event to mark a turning point.

The United States is the world’s third most visited country in terms of tourists followed by France and Spain. In the U.S., tourism is among the three largest employers and it takes care of 1.19 billion trips tourists. There are around 2500 registered National Historic Landmarks (NHL) recognized by the United States government. We have listed here 10 Most popular tourist spots to visit in the United States. And yes, these are not ranked in any manner, just random picks by the editor.

Statue of Liberty

When you think of the USA, the first thing that comes to the mind is the Statue of Liberty – a colossal statue of Roman goddess- Libert as holding aloft a torch, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the citizens of the USA to celebrate the 100th year of the Declaration of Independence, which fell on the 4th of July, 1876.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island, in New York Bay and is one of the most famous landmarks in the USA. It is over 46 meters taiL It is made of pure copper, and holds a gold plated torch in one hand to welcome those arriving in America from across the ocean. The left-hand holds a stone tablet representing the Declaration of Independence.

There are broken chains representing freedom from bonds at the feet of the statue, and on its head, there is a crown with seven points. These seven points symbolize the seven seas and seven continents- and also the fact that people from all over the world are welcome in America. The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building in New York is 381 meters tall, and when it opened in May 1931, it was the tallest building in the world. It was the icon of New York City, the symbol of Man’s dreams to soar higher and higher. Since then, it has captured the attention of generations, as more and more tourists flock to see it every year.

Empire State Building

This skyscraper is 102 stories tall and was designed by William Lamb. There are 1086 steps from the lobby to the 102nd floor, and the building has 73 elevators and 6514 windows. The Empire State Building is considered to be an Art Deco masterpiece.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world’s most beautiful bridges and is an engineering marvel. Its soaring towers, sweeping main cables, and distinctive orange color have made it one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Golden Gate Bridge: Landmarks in USA

The bridge spans the Golden Gate Strait, which is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The total length of the bridge is 2737 meters. The dream of spanning the Golden Gate Strait had been around for well over a century before the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic in 1937.

The foundation piers had to be sunk into the violent, pounding waters of the open sea, something that was thought to be impossible. Today, the resulting bridge provides a connection between -San Francisco and the surrounding northern counties. The Golden Gate Bridge is an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and one of the most visited landmarks in the USA.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is located on the Colorado River, between Arizona and Nevada. The dam is named after America’s 31st president and is the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere, standing at more than 220 meters above the Colorado River. It is one of the country’s largest hydroelectric power facilities.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam. This means that the water load is borne by gravity action and horizontal arch action. Construction began on the Hoover Dam in 1930. About 21,000 people worked on the project, with about 3,500 people working at the site each day. There is enough concrete in the dam to cover a highway 4.87 meters wide from San Francisco to New York City.

Mount Rushmore

The Black Hills of South Dakota, USA is the backdrop for the world’s greatest mountain carving at Mount Rushmore. Here, the faces of four great American Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have been carved into the side of the 1745 meter mountain.

Mount Rushmore

Carved at a height of 152 meters, each face is an amazing 18-meter high sculpture of epic proportions. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 1745 meter high mountain in 1927 and took 14 years to complete the project.

The proportions of each face were worked out on scale models and then transferred to the granite rock face. Every year, millions of people visit this shrine of democracy at Mount Rushmore. It is considered to be a symbol of freedom all over the world and one of the most popular landmarks in the USA.

White House

The White House in Washington DC is a monument steeped in history. It was George Washington, the first President of the US, who chose the site for the White House. The cornerstone was laid in 1792, and a design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban was chosen.

White House: Landmark in USA

After eight years of construction, President John Adams moved into the White House in 1800, and it has been the home of American presidents since then. This beautiful white building has 132 rooms, and 35 bathrooms in, and is the only building in the world that is simultaneously the home of a head of state, the executive office of a head of state and is regularly open to the public for tours.

Yellowstone National Park: Popular Landmarks in the USA

Yellowstone Park is the world’s first National Park. It was established in 1872 to preserve the natural wonders of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone. The idea of national parks started with Yellowstone and spread worldwide.

The Yellowstone National Park is a truly enormous landmark in the USA. Its vast forests cover nearly 9000 square kilometers in three states. It is most famous for its geysers of which there are more than 300- this makes up two-thirds of all the geysers on the planet.

Yellowstone National Park

The extraordinary treasures of Yellowstone include, besides the world’s largest collection of geysers, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, numerous waterfalls, and great herds of wildlife as well. The park has thousands of hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles, and over 150 species of fossil plants, ranging from small ferns up to large sequoia, and many of her tree species. The park lies at the headwaters of three major rivers.

The Yellowstone River is a major tributary of the Missouri River that flows via the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. The Fire hole and Gibbon rivers unite to form the Madison, which also joins Missouri. The Snake River rises near the park’s south boundary and joins the Columbia to flow into the Pacific.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation in North America, while the Lower Yellowstone Falls is the highest of more than 40 named waterfalls in the park. The park’s bison are the only remaining wild, continuously free-ranging, herds that once covered the Great Plains.

In fact, Yellowstone National Park has become one of North America’s foremost refuges for rare plant and animal species. Magnificent scenery, rare plants and animals, awe-inspiring geysers, and immense diversity all combine to make Yellowstone Park one of the truly exceptional landmarks in the USA.

Grand Canyon

Over two billion years ago, Nature began to craft what is today one of the most dramatic natural wonders of this planet- the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, USA. Over 446 kilometers long, 1.60 kilometers deep in places, and 29 kilometers across at its widest, the Grand Canyon is a testimonial to the erosive power of water, ice, and wind.

Carved out by the Colorado River, its vastness takes our breath away, and the insights it gives us into the history of the Earth are invaluable. Here, temple-like buttes, high plateaus, plains, deserts, forests, cinder cones, lava flows, streams, waterfalls, and one of America’s great white water rivers create a spectacular panorama that is truly unforgettable.

Grand Canyon: Landmark in USA

Its geologic record spans all four eras of the Earth’s evolutionary history, as is seen from the numerous caves, fossils and animal remains. The canyon is a vast biological museum, stretching through five different life and vegetation zones.

Over 1,000 plant species have so far been identified as well as 76 mammal, 299 bird, 16 fish, and 41 reptile and amphibian species. The wonder of it all is that the drama that is the Grand Canyon is still going on, as the process of erosion continues.

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls, located on the border between the USA and Canada, may not be the largest, or the tallest waterfall in the world, but it is definitely the most famous. Niagara Falls was carved by centuries of melting glaciers and water erosion.

It is the second-largest waterfall in the world. Niagara Falls is actually made up of three separate falls that are all close in proximity. They are the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls. The American Falls are located in the US.

Niagara Falls

The Horseshoe Falls are located in Canada. The Fallsareextremelywide. The largest, Horseshoe Falls, gets its name from its shape. The water itself is a beautiful blue-green in color, and 6 million q.lbic feet of water hurtles down every minute.

Together, the Falls presents a wondrous spectacle, as great bands of water plummet over the edge, and create a resonating roar down below. Even in winter, when the flow is partially hidden and the edges freeze solid. Niagara Falls reminds us just how amazing our natural world is.

Bryce Canyon: Famous Landmarks in the USA

Bryce Canyon is not a canyon at all but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters that are found on the South-Eastern edge of the Paunsagunt Plateau in South Western Utah, USA. It was named after Ebenezer Bryce, a pioneer who settled in the area in 1874.

Bryce Canyon: Famous Landmarks in USA

Bryce Canyon is famous for its delicate rock spires called hoodoos that have been formed by the forces of erosion. For millions of years, water has carved Bryce’s rugged landscape. Water splits rock as it freezes and expands in cracks. In summer, runoff from cloudbursts etches into the softer limestones and sluices through the deep clefts.

This erosion has resulted in the creation of colorful pinnacles called hoodoos. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks make them a spectacular sight indeed. Some local Paiute Indians believe that animallike creatures that changed themselves into people once lived here. But these creatures were bad and were punished by being turned into rocks. The creatures still huddle together here with faces painted just as they were before being turned to stone!

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Architecture

6 Mughal Architecture in India that are UNESCO World Heritage

Mughal-Architecture-in-India---UNESCO-World-Heritage-Sites

There are a total of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, out of which 6 belongs to Mughal Architecture.

There are more than 1120 World Heritage sites today. They include 869 cultural sites, 213 natural sites, and 39 sites that are a combination of the two. The first two sites in India that made the list were the Agra Fort and the Ajanta Caves. Over the years, 36 more sites have been added.

Of the total of 38 sites in India, 30 are cultural sites, 7 are natural wonders, and one is mixed property. The latest site to make the list is the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai. 6 Mughal Architecture on the list includes Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri, and Red Fort. Here we go, and check out this one by one.

Agra Fort

The city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh has a history that goes back more than 2500 years. It is famous for two magnificent monuments- the Taj Mahal, and the Red Fort of Agra- that reflect the grandeur of the Mughals. The Red Fort of Agra, or the Agra Fort as it is usually called, is located about 2.5 km from the Taj Mahal. It was the imperial city of several Mughal rulers and contained many priceless treasures.

Did you know that the famous diamond that is now known as the Kohinoor diamond was a part of this treasure? This fort of red sandstone is a walled city enclosing many palaces, audience halls, and two mosques. There are four gates on its four sides, and one of the gates was called ‘khizrigate’ or the watergate because it opens to the riverfront. The fort has survived through the onslaught of time, nature, and men, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Agra Fort - Mughal Architecture in India

Old History

Agra Fort was originally a brick fort built by the Rajputs, the Hindu kings who ruled the land. Later, the first Sultan of Delhi, Sikander Lodi shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. It was during this time that Agra became important as the second capital. His son Ibrahim Lodi held the fort for nine years until he was defeated and killed in the battle of Panipat in 1526 by the Mughal ruler Babur.

However, it was Akbar who made Agra the capital of the Mughal Empire and who rebuilt the fort. It was rebuilt in red sandstone, and 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years. It was completed in 1573. Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, also made some changes to this fort. Shah Jahan was later imprisoned, and it is believed that he died in a tower in Agra Fort that had a view of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal.

Agra Fort is spread out over 94 acres, with walls that are 21 meters high. The river runs alongside, and it has four gates built of red sandstone. Delhi Gate is the grandest of the gates that face the city on the western side. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble and has a wooden drawbridge that spans a moat. The other important gate is the Lahore Gate, which is also known as the Amar Singh Gate.

At one time, there were five hundred exquisitely designed buildings inside the fort. Some of them were demolished by Shah Jahan, and replaced with palaces of white marble. Usually, Islamic architecture has decorations limited to calligraphy and patterns. The Agra Fort, however, is an interesting blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture as there are images of dragons, animals, and birds, as well.

Taj Mahal – Most Flawless Mughal Architecture

The Taj Mahal is an inspiring monument built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1 631 and 1648, as a tribute to the memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. It is believed that thousands of workers from several countries toiled for 17 years to complete it. Built completely of white marble and exquisitely designed, it is more than a ruler’s achievement or a nation’s pride.

History

Shah Jahan became the Emperor in 1628 after a bloody battle for the throne. He gave his favorite wife the title of Mumtaz Mahal, which means ‘jewel of the palace’. In 1631, Shah Jahan went on an expedition to the South. Mumtaz Mahal always accompanied him, wherever he went, and this journey was no exception. Tragically, she died during childbirth at Burhanpur. She was the mother of 14 children, of whom only seven survived. She was just 39 at the time of her death, and Shah Jahan was heartbroken. He went into mourning for two years, during which there was no music or any kind of celebration in the court.

The emperor, a passionate builder, then decided to give his beloved a memorial that would express his love for her. So, the Taj Mahal took shape, besides the Yamuna River, set amidst splendid gardens. The site was chosen because Shah Jahan could gaze at it from the Agra Fort, his palace. Skilled architects, more than 20,000 workers, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone carvers, and masons from lands as distant as Persia and Turkey toiled to create a masterpiece that stuns the world to this day.

Tajmahal - Mughal Architectures in India

Architecture

The Taj Mahal is one of the most flawless architectural creations of all time. For the past five centuries, travelers from all over the world have gazed in awe at its incomparable beauty. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal gleams like a jewel in the perfect setting of its vast gardens. The purity of the white marble, and the intricacy of the floral arabesques, as well as the decorative bands, all highlight to perfection the exquisite calligraphy. The materials for its construction came from all over India and Central Asia. The pristine white Makrana marble came from Jodhpur. Precious stones for the inlay were brought from Baghdad, Punjab, Egypt, Russia, Golconda, China, Afghanistan, Ceylon, Persia, and the countries in the Indian Ocean. The Taj Mahal, without doubt, is considered to be the finest and most sophisticated example of Mughal architecture.

It incorporates and expands on many design traditions, particularly Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. Known for its symmetry, the Taj Mahal sits on a raised platform surrounded by four minarets The massive red sandstone Taj gateway was completed in the year 1648 and stands 30 meters high. The gateway is topped by small cupolas or chhatris. Symbolic of the divide between the material and the spiritual, the gateway is decorated in calligraphy with verses from the holy Koran.

Tomb of Mumtaj Mahal

The tomb of Mumtaj stands on its own marble plinth, which rests on a red sandstone platform. Four tall pillars rise up from the corners of the white marble plinth. They are topped with eight windowed cupolas. Immediately below the dome, is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, which is centrally lined with the main entrance. Besides Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb, is the tomb of Shah Jahan.

The crypt and the cenotaphs at the Taj carry decorations of fabulous elegance. As many as 35 different types of precious stones have been used on a single bloom-turquoise, jade, agate, coral, lapis lazuli, onyx, bloodstone, cornelian, jasper, garnet, and malachite have been used to fashion blooms of fuchsias, lily, honeysuckle, and more. The beauty of the Taj Mahal is enhanced by the garden laid out in the Persian Charbagh or four garden plan style.

The Taj Mahal houses the tombs of Murritaz Mahal and Shahjahan himself. The actual tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jehan are in the basement, while in the main chamber, there are false tombs surrounded by lacelike marble screens. These screens transmit light into the actual burial chamber. Both tombs are exquisitely inlaid with semi-precious stones. Calligraphic inscriptions of the ninety-nine names of Allah can also be seen on the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan’s tomb lies next to Mumtaz Mahal’s but was not a part of the original plan.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar in 1571. The work, supervised by Akbar himself, was completed in 1573. Fatehpur Sikri derives its name from the village of Sikri, which occupied the spot earlier. The prefix Fatehpur, or ‘city of victory’, was added in 1573 after Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat.

The city comprised of a series of palaces, public buildings, and mosques, as well as living areas for the court, the army, servants of the king, and for his people. It was built on a rocky plateau, near an artificial lake, and the monuments were constructed of red sandstone, in a blend of Hindu, Persian, and Indo-Muslim traditions. In 1585, however, Akbar abandoned Fatehpur Sikri to fight against the Afghan tribes and chose a new capital. Though it had a short life of splendor, Fatehpur Sikri has remained to date as one of the most magnificent Mughal architecture and well-preserved heritage sites in India.

Fatehpur Sikri

History

Akbar chose to build his city in the village of Sikri out of reverence for Sheikh Salim, a religious mystic of the Chisti order, who prophesied that he would have three sons at that site. Akbar moved his pregnant wife to Sikri where she had two sons. In thanksgiving, Akbar decided to build an imperial mosque and palace at the village of Sikri. After 1573, it was regarded as the capital of the Mughal Empire. However, after the city was abandoned by Akbarin 1585 to fight a campaign in Punjab, it seems to have declined just as rapidly. By 1610, it was completely abandoned. The reason for the sudden decline of the city is usually given as the failure of the water supply system. However, the real reason may have been the emperor’s loss of interest, since he had built it on a whim in the first place.

Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas

Fatehpur Sikri is regarded as Emperor Akbar’s crowning architectural legacy. His creative and aesthetic impulses have found exquisite expression in its numerous palaces, halls, and masjids. The Diwan- i-Aam is the first enclosure of the palace as one enters. It is a vast courtyard that was used by Emperor Akbar for the daily public audience called ‘Jharokha’. It was also used to dispense justice.

The Diwan-i-Aam gave access to a second magnificent enclosure that is called Diwan-i-Khas. This is undoubtedly the finest building in Fatehpur Sikri and was used for private audiences and other court activities. This inspiring chamber is dominated by a massive carved pillar that has thirty-six brackets supporting a balcony for Akbar. If you ever get a chance to visit Fatehpur Sikri, let. your imagination soars, and in your mind’s eye, you will see Akbar granting audience to his subjects, and dispensing justice.

Humayun’s Tomb

The Mughal Emperor Humayun was the son of Babur who established the Mughal dynasty in India. Most of Humayun’s time was spent in continuous warfare, and he had little time for intellectual or cultural pursuits. Humayun ruled India for a decade but was exiled. Eventually, he took refuge with the Shah of Persia, who helped him regain Delhi in 1555, the year before his death. He died in 1556, and his Persian wife, Hamida Begum, supervised the construction of her husband’s tomb in Delhi, from 1562-1572.

The architect, Mirak Mirza Ghiyuath, was also a Persian. Humayun’s tomb is the first distinct example of the pure Mughal style, which was inspired by Persian architecture. It is also the first of a series of grand tombs surrounded by exquisite gardens. The Taj Mahal has been inspired by Humayun’s tomb, and in many ways, this magnificent red and white building is as spectacular a monument as the Taj Mahal.

Humayun Tomb

Humayun’s tomb stands as a landmark in the development of Mughal architecture, and also represents the earliest example of the Mughal concept of a garden tomb, with causeways and channels. This awe-inspiring monument took almost nine years to complete, and cost nearly one and a half million rupees. The mausoleum is a 42 meters high structure with a central dome. The double-layered dome has a white marble exterior, but the rest of the tomb is made of red sandstone, with white marble ornamentation. It is set in a geometrically arranged garden, crisscrossed by numerous water channels. Such typical Persian gardens had been introduced into India by Babur. Later, they would be found in the Red Fort in Delhi, and at the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Architecture

The architectural form of the building is Persian, and this tomb is the first Indian building to use the Persian double dome. The most obvious Indian features of the Mughal architecture are the small kiosks or chhatris on the roof. The building is also noteworthy for its inlaid tile work. It embodies both Indian and Persian decorative elements and its carved stone screens. Located on the banks of the River Yamuna, this structure was declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1993.

There are many other small monuments inside the compound of Humayan’s tomb. There is an impressive square tomb, with a double dome, that was believed to have been built for the Emperor’s favorite barber. A picturesque gateway leads to a walled enclosure called Arab Ki Sarai. It was built by Humayun’s widow for the 300 Arab merchants that had returned with her, from her pilgrimage to Mecca. Other monuments include the tomb of Isa Khan, a nobleman, and Bu Halima’s garden. The Afsarwala tomb and Masjid are also a part of the complex. Both the masjid and the tomb are in honor of an afsar, or officer. The Afsarwala tomb has a grave with the date 974 marked on it, which corresponds to 1566-67.

Qutb Minar

The Qutb Minar was built by Sultan Qutbu’d Din Aibak. It is mostly pronounced as Qutub Minar. The work started in 1202 and was completed by his successor Muhammed bin Sam. It is 72.5 meters tall, and to reach the top, one would have to climb 379 steps, five times a day! The conical tower is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture. The base of the Qutb Minar measures 14.32 meters, and the top of the structure measures 2.75 meters. It is five stories high.

Each story has a different design theme, and balconies project from each story. These balconies are supported on elaborately carved and inscribed brackets. Verses from the holy Koran are carved on its sandstone walls. The Qutb Minar was the symbol of the might of the Turko Afghan Slave Dynasty- a dynasty whose first kings were slaves who later became kings. The Qutb Minar is a World Heritage site and has survived the ravages of time impressively.

Qutub Minar and other mughal monuments

Ancient History

A famous iron pillar, belonging to the 4th century, stands in the courtyard of the Qutb Minar. The Sanskrit inscription tells us that this pillar was originally set up as a flag pole, or ‘dhvajastambha’, of Lord Vishnu on the hill known as ‘Vishnupada’. lt was a tribute to King Chandragupta II of the Gupta dynasty. It is also suggested that a deep hole on the top of the pillar was used to fit the image of ‘Garuda’ as the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

The iron pillar is believed to have been brought to Delhi by Anangpal, the Tomar king. The base of the pillar is tied to its foundations by small pieces of iron. It rises to a height of 7.20 meters, with 93 centimeters buried below the present floor level. What is truly amazing about this pillar is that the iron has not rusted despite the seventeen centuries that have passed. The pillar is an excellent example of advanced metallurgy of those times and is a marvel in itself.

Red Fort Complex

The fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan built a new capital which he named Shahjahanabad. Its palace fort was the Red Fort complex, which was so-called because of its massive walls of red sandstone. The Red Fort is a tribute to the outstanding creativity of the Mughals, and each of its many pavilions reflects different aspects of Mughal architecture. There is a harmonious blend of Persian, Timurid, and Hindu elements – and the result is breathtaking.

The Red Fort is considered to be of outstanding universal value, because it is representative of the architectural development initiated in 1526 AD by the first Mughal Emperor, and splendidly refined by Shah Jahan with a fusion of three traditions. It has been a witness to many historic changes, and has been the setting for many stirring events that have had a long-lasting, and sometimes permanent impact on the history of the nation.

Red Fort - Mughal Monument in India

Architecture

The Red Fort Complex is different from other monuments in that it reflects both Mughal architecture and planning, as well as the manner in which the British used the forts. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, when the fort was used as a headquarters, the British army occupied and destroyed many of its pavilions and gardens. One of the dramatic changes made by the British was the transformation of a river into a major road. And in the way, they built a railway line that divided the Red Fort from the Salimgarh Fort. Today, the only structures remaining are those chosen for -preservation by the British.

The Red Fort is a veritable treasure house of magnificent buildings. The entrance to the Red Fort was through gateways, each of which was named according to the famous city that they faced. Thus, the gates had names like Lahori gate, Kashmiri gate, Kabul gate, and Ajmeri gate. Inside, the fort was a city in itself, with its own shopping arcades, and gardens.

Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas

Amongst the buildings, the Diwan-i-Aam was the hall of the public audience. The Diwan-i-Khas was the hall of the private audience where the Emperor gave a private audience to the courtiers and important guests. The Nehri-e-Behisht was a continuous channel of water that ran through the pavilions of the imperial apartments. Water for the channel was drawn from the Yamuna, from a tower known as the Shah Burj. The imperial private apartments lay behind the throne. The zenana was the women’s quarters. It consisted of the Mumtaz Mahal and Rang Mahal. The Moti Masjid or pearl mosque was a later addition, The Hayat Bakhsh Bagh, was a large formal garden.

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