A Handbook to Agra and the Taj eBook

Ernest Binfield Havel
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 98 pages of information about A Handbook to Agra and the Taj.

About a mile further along the road, on the left-hand side, is a curious statue of a horse in red sandstone, which, tradition says, was put up by a nobleman whose favourite horse was killed at this spot; the syce who was killed at the same time has his tomb close by.

Nearly opposite to this is a large dried-up tank, called the Guru-ka-Tal, which, with the adjacent ruined buildings, are attributed to Sikandar Lodi, one of the Afghan predecessors of the Mogul Emperors, who has given his name to Sikandra.

Akbar’s Tomb.

Akbar’s tomb stands in the midst of a vast garden, enclosed by four high battlemented walls.  In the centre of each wall is an imposing gateway seventy feet high.  The principal one, on the west side, has an inscription in Persian, which states that the mausoleum was completed by the Emperor Jahangir, in the seventh year of his reign, or 1613 A.D.  It is elaborately ornamented with bold but rather disjointed inlaid patterns, which seem to show that the designers were unaccustomed to this method of decoration.  Neither are the four minarets at the corners of the roof, which are said to have been broken by the Jats, contrived with the usual skill of the Mogul architects.  Above the gateway is the Nakkar Khana, an arcaded chamber with a balcony, where at dawn and one watch after sunrise the drums and pipes sounded in honour of the dead.

The mausoleum was commenced by Akbar himself.  It is different in plan from any other Mogul monument, and, contrary to the usual Muhammadan custom, the head of the tomb of Akbar is turned towards the rising sun, and not towards Mecca.  The whole structure gives the impression of a noble but incompleted idea; both in its greatness and in its incompleteness, it is typical of Akbar and his work.

The original design was somewhat modified by Jahangir.  He has stated in his memoirs that on his first visit to the tomb after his accession he was dissatisfied with the work which had been done, and ordered certain parts of it to be rebuilt.  Fergusson supposes that the original intention was to cover the tombstone and raised platform of the uppermost story with a domed canopy, and in this he is supported by a statement of William Finch, who visited the mausoleum when it was being built, that it was to be “inarched over with the most curious white and speckled marble, to be ceiled all within with pure sheet gold richly inwrought.”  Such a canopy is just what is required by aesthetic considerations to complete the curiously truncated appearance of the top story, and there is nothing in the structural design to make it impossible or improbable.

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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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