And More of Agra

It might seem like there could be little left to do in India after the Taj Mahal, but in fact most of our itinerary was still ahead of us, including a few more sites in Agra.
The Red Fort, palace of Shah Jahan, and the beginning of a parade of forts we'd visit over two weeks. By the end of Week 1 Jason would declare that he was "all forted out."Over the entrance, the zig zag stone work represents a garland welcoming guests in, a thoughtful and pleasant detail. The modern day welcome brigade is actually hawkers drawn to arriving tourist vehicles like magnets, shoving their peacock feather fans and jewelry in your face.

Inside, there's more inlaid marble as seen at the Taj Mahal, featured on many another tourist souvenir.And here is also the courtyard where Taj Mahal craftsmen could later come to sell their wares to the emperor's family and friends. The perimeter features round brackets to hold the torches that illuminated the space, a detail that helped me imagine the nights at the Fort.A later guide during our visit to India asked us, "What was your favorite place in India? -- BESIDES the Taj Mahal!" For me, it was Fatehpur Sikri, Emperor Akbar's Palace. An ornately detailed, expansive, sixteenth century complex, which you learn was only occupied for 10 years. The palace tells a good story through its buildings, particularly that Akbar's vision was to unite the religions, as well as create his own form of Unitarianism. Here I am at the Astrologer's Seat, with its bracket supports representing elephants. (Upside down.)Among Akbar's methods was to marry three women, one Muslim, one Christian and one Hindu. Each woman had her own quarters on the property, of different sizes but the same cost to construct, each reflecting her own religion. We toured and compared all three, which began to feel like "House Hunters International - Sixteenth Century." "I love the details, but it's a bit small." Here's a photo from another traveler, and far, far better photographer Stuck in Customs, that captures the amazing details of Fatehpur Sikri.(Two observations: 1. I love the internet because if you forgot to get a photo, inevitably someone else on flickr captured it. 2. I should take a photography class. My pics look so dull compared to a professional's!)

The exterior of the kitchen building features a motif of women's earrings. Amongst the pastiche of other crazy details! It might have been mostly women who lived here, since we also later passed the dorm-like quarters for Akbar's 300 concubines. Among their duties was to lift Akbar to his eight-foot-high bed every night! A story Jason and Tushar enjoyed immensely. That was also when the court's women weren't being used as game pieces on the outdoor Parcheesi board. Now, just another drowsy dog mans the game board.


jck said...

human parcheesi! I love it!


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