Temples frk) Mahabodhi Temple Complex : The Mahabodhi

Temples of Khajuraho are world famous for their architecture and have been declared world heritage by UNESCO. The Vishvanatha, Parshvanatha and Vaidyanatha Temples belong to the time of king Dhanga, the successor of Yasovarman.

The Jagadambi, Chitragupta, are noteworthy among the western group of royal temples of Khajuraho.

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The largest and grandest temple of Khajuraho is the immortal Kandariya Mahadeva, which is attributed to king Ganda (1017-29 CE.).

The other examples that followed viz., Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and Duladeo, are smaller but elaborately designed.

The Khajuraho group of temples is noted for lofty terraces (jagati) and functionally effective plans.

The sculptural embellishments include, besides the cult images; parivara, parsava, avarana devatas, dikpalas, the apsarases and sura-sundaris, which win universal admiration for their delicate, youthful female forms of ravishing beauty. The attire and ornamentation embrace the winsome grace and charm.

(Also refer it Chandella frk)

Mahabodhi Temple Complex :

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodhgaya is located at the place of Lord Buddha’s enlightenment.

It is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment.

The first temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries.

It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely with brick (still standing in India) from the late Gupta period.

The site of the Mahabodhi Temple provides exceptional records of the events associated with the life of Buddha and subsequent worship, particularly since Emperor Ashoka built the first temple, the balustrades, and the memorial column.

The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural relics in stone.

Meenakshi Temple :

The ancient city of Madurai, was built by the Pandyan king, Kulashekarar, in the 6th century B.CE., But the reign of the Nayaks marks the golden period of Madurai when art, architecture and learning flourished expansively.

The most beautiful buildings in the city including its most famous landmark, the Meenakshi temple, were built during the Nayak rule.

Located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva.

The sculpted pillars are adorned with the exquisite murals that celebrate the ethereal beauty of princess Meenakshi and the scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva.

At the Sundareswarar temple across the courtyard, Lord Shiva is represented as a lingam. The pillars depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. There are 985 richly carved pillars here and each one surpasses the other in beauty.

Mehrangarh Fort :

Mehrangarh fort is about 5km from Jodhpur Town in Rajasthan. Guarding the city below, crowning a perpendicular cliff, the fort was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459 CE. when he shifted his capital from Mandore.

Standing sentinel to the city below, it overlooks the rugged and rocky terrain and houses a palace intricately adorned with long carved panels and latticed windows exquisitely wrought from red sandstone.

The apartments within, have their own magic – the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana with a rich varied collection of palanquins, howdas, royal cradles, miniature paintings of various schools, folk music, instruments, costumes, furniture and an impressive armoury.

The display of cannons on the ramparts near Chamunda temple is among the rarest in India.

The Mysore Palace :

The Mysore Palace, once the residence of the Wodeyars, is one of the largest palaces of its kind in India, and one of the most splendid.

Built in Indo-Saracenic style with domes, turrets, arches and colonnades, the palace is often compared with the Buckingham Palace of Britain because of its grandeur.

Henry Irwin, the British consultant architect of Madras state, designed it. The palace was built by the twenty-fourth Wodeyar Raja in 1912 on the site of the old wooden palace that was gutted in the year 1897.

The palace has now been converted into a museum, which treasures the souvenirs, paintings, jewellery, royal costumes and other items, which were once possessed by the Wodeyars. It is said that the palace displays the largest collection of gold items, quantity wise.

The Golden Royal Elephant Throne, the Durbar Hall, and the Kalyan Mandap (wedding hall) are the main attractions here.

The entry to the palace is through a beautiful gallery featuring Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects.

Halfway along is the Elephant Gate, which is the main entrance to the centre of the palace.

The gate is decorated with floriated designs, and bears the Mysore royal symbol of a double-headed eagle.

To the north of the gate the Royal Elephant Throne is displayed which is embellished with 84 kilogram of 24-carat gold.

Walls leading to the Kalyanmandapa are lined with intricate oil paintings, illustrating the royal procession of the Mysore Dussehra Festival.

A unique thing about these paintings is that seen from any direction, the procession seems to be coming in one’s own direction.

The hall itself is magnificent and is decorated with huge chandeliers, and multicoloured stain glass arranged in peacock designs.

The historic Durbar Hall of the palace has an ornate ceiling and sculpted pillars which are said to have been painted with gold.

It is also a treasure house of rare paintings by some celebrated artists. This hall, which is up the stairs, offers wonderful view of the Chamundi Hills that towers over the city and houses a temple dedicated to the Goddess Chamundeshwari, the royal family’s patron deity.

Taj Mahal :

Taj Mahal is a Sheer poetry in marble. Majesty and magnificence, unrivalled, the Taj Mahal is the only one of its kind across the world is one of the wonders of the world.

The construction of this marble masterpiece is credited to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who erected this mausoleum in memory of his beloved wife, Arjumand Bano Begum, popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in A.H. 1040 (1630 C.E.).

Her last wish to her husband was “to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before”. Thus emperor Shah Jahan set about building this fairytale like marvel. The construction of Taj Mahal was started in 1632 C.E. and completed at the end of 1648 C.E.

For seventeen years, twenty thousand workmen are said to be employed on it daily, for their accommodation a small town, named after the deceased empress-‘Mumtazabad, now known as Taj Ganj, was built adjacent to it.

Amanat Khan Shirazi was the calligrapher of Taj Mahal, his name occurs at the end of an inscription on one of the gates of the Taj.

Poet Ghyasuddin had designed the verses on the tombstone, while Ismail Khan Afridi of Turkey was the dome maker. Muhammad Hanif was the superintendent of Masons. The designer of Taj Mahal was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The material was brought in from all over India and Central Asia. The central dome is 187 feet high at the centre.

In all 28 kind of rare, semi precious and precious stones were used for inlay work in the Taj Mahal. The chief building material, the white marble was brought from the quarries of Makrana, in district Nagaur, Rajasthan.

To the left of the Taj is a mosque made of red sandstone. It is common in Islam to build a mosque next to a tomb, as it sanctifies the area and provides for a place for worship. This mosque is still used for Friday prayers.

An identical mosque is also built to the right of the Taj and is known as the Jawab (answer). Prayers are not held here as it faces west i.e. away from Mecca, the holy city of the Muslims. It was built to maintain symmetry.

The Exterior :

The Taj itself stands in a raised platform. The four minarets at each corner of the plinth provide a perfect balance to the tomb.

The minarets measure 41.6 m high and each has a deliberate slant outwards so that in an unlikely event of an earthquake, there would not fall on the tomb but away from it.

The bulbous dome of the Taj Mahal rests on an extraordinarily high drum and rises to a total height of 44.41 mt. From the base of the drum to the apex to the finial.

The central dome, irrespective of the angles of the view. There is only one point of access to the plinth and tomb, a double staircase facing the entrance.

One has to remove shoes over or can put on the shoe covers which are provided at a nominal cost by the staff stationed here for this purpose.

Interior of the Taj :

The interior of the mausoleum comprises a lofty central chamber, a crypt immediately below this and four octagonal corner rooms originally intended to house the graves of other royal family members.

In the centre are the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is to the left and is higher than that of his beloved which rests immediately below the dome.

The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal stands in the centre of the marble screen, it has inscribed on it in Persian with texts from the Koran.

The cenotaph has the single epitaph inscribed on it-“Marqad Munavvar Arjumand Banu Begum Mukhatib bah Mumtaz Mahal Tanifiyat ferr sanh 1040 Hijri” (Here lies Arjumand Bano Begum called Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1040 A.H. or 1630 CE.).

The cenotaph of Shah Jahan is inscribed in Persian-“Marqad Mutahar Aali Hazrat Firdaus Ashiyani Sahib-qiran Saani Saani Shah Jahan Badshah taab surah sanh 1076 Hijri” (The sacred sepulchre of his most exalted Majesty, dweller of Paradise, the second lord of constellations, the king Shah Jahan, may his mausoleum ever flourish, 1076 A.H. (1666 CE.)].

Above the tombs is a Cairene lamp, the flame of which is supposed to never burn out. Marble screen of trelliswork surrounds the graves. Both tombs are exquisitely inlaid with semi precious stones.

The acoustics of the building are superb with the domed ceiling being designed to echo chants from Koran and musician’s melodies.

It is suggested that one walk around the outside of the tomb, before retrieving your shoes, to appreciate it from all sides.