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Popular Monuments in India

India possess a rich collection of monuments, known world over for its intricate architect and its ancient history. The Taj Mahal, Agra, built by fifth Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1648 is undoubtedly the epitome of Indian culture, heritage and civilization. Behind each monument is an underlying sense of mystery, intrigue and romance. Other popular monuments include Hazrat Nizamuddin, a tomb of medieval sufi saint and a place of pilgrimage and devotion for believers. Safdarjung Tomb, New Delhi is the mausoleum of a minister of emperor Ahamed Shah, and was built by his son in the year 1753.The Jama Masjid, built in 1650-56 by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan, is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in India.

Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi, is the mausoleum of second Moghul emperor built in the year 1564 by his widow Haji Begum. The magnificent Charminar, built in the year 1591, is the most important landmark in the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Looking back at five thousand years of Indian History, there are thousands of monuments across the country from north to south and east to west belonging to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

Famous Indian Monuments

Tombs & Mosques
– Taj Mahal
– Jama Masjid
– Humayun Tomb
– Qutub Minar

– Ajanta Caves
– Ellora Caves
– Elephanta Caves
– Udaygiri Kandhagiri Caves

Perhaps the greatest single building on earth designed to house human remains; Taj Mahal symbolizes love and romance. The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died in 1631The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra, about 210 kms from the Indian capital of Delhi. The tomb is surrounded by an enclosed garden with reflective pools. The Taj Mahal was named a United Nations World Heritage site in 1983

The Taj Mahal, built entirely of white marble, uses an architectural design known as interlocking arabesque. Each element of the structure can stand on its own and integrate with the main structure. The central dome, called the Taj, is 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet high. The marble walls inside the dome are covered with intricate mosaic patterns and precious stones. Within the dome lies the jewel-inlaid tomb of the queen. Four domed chambers surround the Taj. The main archways are chiseled with passages from the Holy Quran. The mausoleum is part of a vast complex with a main gateway, garden, mosque, guest-house and several other palatial buildings.

The Mosque was planed and designed by Ostad Khalil, a great sculptor of that era. Emperor Shahjahan built Jama Masjid at the cost of Rs 10 crore and it can be called as the replica of Moti Masjid in Agra. The premises of the South Minar are 1076-sq-ft wide where 25,000 devotees at a time may sit together for namaz. The structure was placed on a high platform so that its magnificent facade would be visible from all the adjoining areas. It’s an austere, yet, a beautiful building.

Just like other buildings of Shahjahanabad, this one was also built with red sandstone. White marble has also been used extensively, specially in the three domes and has been inlaid with stripes of black. The slender minarets grace the facade, one on each side, rising to a height of 130-feet. The eastern gate was reserved for the Emperor when he used to arrive here every Friday and on Id.

This tomb, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal. The first Mughal Emperor, Babur, was succeeded by his son, Humayun, who ruled in India for a decade but was overthrown. Eventually he took refuge with the Safavid shah of Persia, who helped him regain Delhi in 1555, the year before his death. Humayun’s Persian wife, Hamida Begum, supervised the construction from 1562-1572 of her husband’s tomb in Delhi.

The Tomb
The tomb sits at the center of a plinth, about 21feet (7m) high. The top of its central dome reaches 140 feet from the ground. The dome is double-layered; the outer layer supports the white marble exterior facing, while the inner one defines the cavernous interior volume. The rest of the tomb is clad in red sandstone, with white marble ornamentation. In Humayun’s tomb, each of the main chambers has in turn eight more, smaller chambers radiating from it.

Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutub Minar in A.D. 1193, but could only complete its basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more stories, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tuglak constructed the fifth and the last storey. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tuglak are quite evident in the minar.

Ajanta Caves
In 1819, a party of British army officers on a tiger hunt in the forest of western Deccan, discovered a series of carved caves, each more dramatic than the other. Constructed in a very detailed manner, these caves were monsoon retreats for Buddhist monks and was continuously lived in from 200 BC to about AD650. There are thirty caves, including some unfinished ones. Of the Ajanta caves, five are prayer halls and the rest monasteries.

Ajanta provides a unique combination of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Two basic types of monastic Buddhist architecture are preserved at Ajanta, the Chaitya or prayer hall and Vihara or monastery.

Udaygiri Kandhagiri Caves
Udaygiri Kandhagiri Caves are found in the hills, which are 6 km from Bhubaneshwar. One can reach these caves from Bhubaneshwar by bus or autorickshaw. The caves on the two low hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri give ample proof of Jain and Buddhist occupation of the region at least by the 2nd century B.C. Khandagiri means “broken hill” and Udayagiri means “hill of the sunrise.” These two hills rise 40m above the surrounding lateritic and infertile plain. The Archaeological survey of India has carried out major repair work-like supporting vital features of the caves and protecting important carvings of these coarse grained sandstone caves.

The Khandagiri Caves are reached via a steep path which divides halfway up the hill. To the right is Ananta Cave with its carved figures of elephants, and women which are worth a visit. It offers a fine bird eye view of Bhubaneshwar from its summit. The steep path up divides about third of the way up the hill. Further along there is a series of Jain Temples and, at the top, there is another Jain Temple dating fromthe 18th Century.

Elephanta caves
In Elephanta caves, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions in form of beautiful reliefs, sculptures, and temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Elephanta anciently known as Gharapuri, the island capital of Konkan Mauryas, is celebrated for its colossal image of lord Shiva, with three heads each representing a different form. Located 10 km away from the Gateway of India at Mumbai, these caves house rock cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE.

The Ellora
There are 34 caves, of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain. The caves all face west, so are best seen in the afternoon. The Buddhist caves are to your far right as you face the curve of the Charanadari Hill, then come the Hindu ones, and finally, the Jain cave temples to the far left. . The most impressive vihara is the three – storeyed cave called ‘Tin – Tala’. It has a large open-court in front which provides access to the huge monastery. The uppermost storey contains sculptures of Buddha. Compared to the Ajanta paintings and sculptures, the Ellora representations are more earthly, drawing elements from the Vajrayana school of Buddhism.


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