India has withdrawn a planned reopening of the Taj Mahal, citing the risk of new coronavirus infections spreading in the northern city of Agra from visitors flocking to see the 17th century monument to love.
AGRA. - While all major historical monuments across the nation are set to open on Monday, Taj Mahal and other world famous monuments in Agra will not reopen till further orders, as they fall in the buffer zone areas outside the containment zone.
Issuing an order in this regard, Agra DM Prabhu N Singh, said that at present there are 71 active containment zones in the city and Taj Mahal and some other monuments, including Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar tomb in Sikandra, Mariam tomb in Sikandra, Ram Bagh, Itimad-Ud-Daulah tomb and Mehtab Bagh, fall in the buffer zone. Any movement of tourists in these areas could spread Coronavirus infection.
Referring to the MHA's latest unlock 2.0 guidelines, implemented after June 30, the order states that within the buffer zone, restrictions that are considered necessary may continue by the district authorities.
According to officials, though Agra has more or less controlled the spread of Covid in the city for now with only 3 per cent of total tested samples turning out to be positive, the situation continues to be bad in Delhi and NCR from where a rush of tourists is expected.
“We expect crowds only from NCR and Delhi as trains and flights from other places remain suspended and this could prove a threat to the city” said a senior official.
The Union ministry of culture had last week announced reopening of ASI-protected properties from July 6 with SOPs and safeguards in place. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has however made all arrangements to follow social distancing norms by making circles outside the monuments in Agra.
The Taj Mahal of India symbolizes the love of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to his fourteenth son. The building is a funerary monument in honor of his wife. It is an exceptional architectural monument, impossible to repeat. Perhaps that is why it was awarded a place among the 7 Wonders of the Modern World in 2007 and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.
The adventure of this trip takes us from New Delhi to the city of Agra. There are 200km of a route full of postcards from rural India.
The entrance to Agra is as intense as the exit from Delhi. Cars, motorcycles, and the inevitable three-wheeled Tuk Tuk circulate through the streets where there are also street stalls, pedestrians and cows, which, when considered sacred, are the owners of the situation.
This destination of the Golden Triangle is mainly to visit the Taj Mahal.
The emblem of India is actually a symbol of love.
The Taj Mahal symbolizes the love of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to his fourteenth son. The building is a funerary monument in honor of his wife.
The Taj Mahal is an exceptional architectural monument, impossible to repeat. Perhaps that is why it was awarded a place among the 7 Wonders of the Modern World in 2007 and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.
The word "taj" comes from the Persian and means "crown", while Mahal is a short variant of Mumtaz Mahal, the formal name in the court of the princess, whose meaning is "first lady of the palace". Taj Mahal could then be translated as "Mahal's crown", in honor of Shah Jahan's beloved wife.
The construction of the Taj Mahal took about 22 years (between 1631 and 1654). It required about 20,000 people and a thousand elephants that were used as means of transportation.
The main material of the building is pure marble imported from Rajasthan, Tibet, Afghanistan and China. A curiosity is that it acquires different shades depending on the time of day and the intensity of the sun, so it can be perceived whiter, more pink or more golden.
Although the best known part of the place is the white marble mausoleum, the Taj Mahal is a 17-hectare building set also formed by a mosque, a guest house and large gardens.
The Taj Mahal and his romantic story:
The Taj Mahal story is considered a love story, as the emperor decided to create a posthumous tribute to his favorite wife. According to local legends, she was the only one to whom he was faithful.
Legend has it that they met in a market while she tried on a crystal necklace and Shah Jahan, who was a prince at the time, bought it. The differences between their political ranks did not allow the relationship to develop.
The emperor could have up to five wives. He married two women before deciding to take Ajumand Banu Begum as his third wife. She was designated as Mumtaz Mahal, the chosen one of the palace.
After enjoying some years of happiness, Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth number 14. He had already had 13 children of the emperor before, but the last birth was complicated.
It is said that on his deathbed he asked the emperor to build a grave for him, to be good to his children and to visit the mausoleum on each anniversary. Unfortunately, only one of the three requests could be fulfilled.
But the story does not end there.
Shah Jahan was locked up as a prisoner of his children, who had rebelled and murdered his brothers. He took power after the father triggered an economic crisis by spending more than convenient with the construction of the mausoleum.
The black Taj Mahal:
Shah Jahan had the desire to create a twin building at the Taj Mahal across the river. The second building would be black marble and would be attached to the original mausoleum through a gold bridge, but this dream could never be realized.
When the complex was ready, Shah Jahan thought about the construction of another identical mausoleum, but in black marble, on the other side of the Yamuna River, to house his grave. Both would be joined by a bridge with the perfect symmetry that characterizes the entire complex.
But his son, Aurangzeb, seeing that his father would waste all his fortune and could be left with nothing, decided to lock him in the palace of the Agra Fort and became the emperor who succeeded Jahan.
His room and cell had a balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal, to contemplate all the time and thus accompany the tomb of his beloved. He was imprisoned there for eight years, until he fell ill and lost his sight. According to legend, one of his daughters had a large mirror placed in his room so that from the bed of the patient he could see the Taj Mahal reflected.
After his death they placed his grave next to his wife's.
With the concurrence of the best talents of the time, between architects and craftsmen of different origins, the imposing mausoleum and the entire complex that surrounds it was built and decorated. The best translucent white marble and red sandstone transported on the back of a thousand elephants from about 300 kilometers were used. Oxcarts and buffalo carts that worked day and night were also necessary.
The decoration includes inlays made with gems and semiprecious stones; Punjab jasper, crystal and jade from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, sapphires from Ceylon and carnelia from Arabia.
All these materials absorb light and have their own brightness. Each flower and each inscription of the Koran are a piece made as the most exquisite jewel.
As a curiosity we can comment that the tomb that can be observed inside the main mausoleum is only a replica. The remains of the emperor and his wife are several meters underground.
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