25 January 2009

We are going to visit the Taj Mahal on our way down to Udayan. Be prepared for some stunning pictures!

The Taj Mahal, described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, has become the de facto tourist emblem of India. This poignant Mughal mausoleum was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife Mumtaz Mahal, whose death in childbirth in 1631 left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned grey overnight. Construction of the Taj began in the same year and was not completed until 1653.

Famed for its World Heritage Site, the magnificent Taj Mahal is sited on a bend in the river Yamuna. This has proven definitive of its history, making it easily defended. The city was a stronghold of the last Hindu Kings of the Lodi dynasty in the 16th Century but was subsequently taken as capital by the Moghul rulers Babur, Humayun and Akbar. The British also recognised the strategic importance of Agra. They established a mighty garrison here on the edge of the plains of Panipat, where India’s fortunes have so often turned foul or fair.