Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trove Tuesday - Taj Mahal

Today should find Mr Geniaus and I at the Taj Mahal in India. Before I set out on my holiday I took a look at Trove to see what early articles I could find about the Building.

I wonder if the building will still appear as described in this article from The Hobart Mercury on 15 January 1878 and which was subsequently published in several other regional newspapaers around Australia.

The "Taj-Mahal" at Agra is no doubt the mostwonderful building in the world. Probably, too,it is the costliest for its size. Standing alone uponthe Plains of India, in the midst of a perfeot deso-lation of rugged sand and mud flats, scarred andscored _by the periodio floods of the great JumnaRiver,"it lifts towards heaven a monument thatseems more heavenly than earthly. It is the tombof the great king Shah Jehan and bis wife, tbeniece of Nourmahal, light of the harem of " LallaRookh." The River Jumma washes it on one side ;on two other sides are two beautiful mosques of redsandstone. A garden of glorious green and ex-quisite flowers forms the fourth side, and at thatend is a stupendous entrance gateway, Burmountedby 26 white marble cupolas. The Taj itself standson a platform of red sandstone, 964 feet by 329,On this platform stands also the two -mosques andfour lofty towers. From this platform rises a superbterrace of .white marble, 313 feet square, in the centreof which the beautiful building stands. A loftminar of white marble, 150 feet high, is placed oneach corner of the terrace. The plan of the Taj isan irregular octagon, the sides which face the fourcardinal points, and contain the entrances, beingeach about 130 feet long. The roof ia about 70 feetfrom the terrace, and each angle is surmounted bya slender minaret. From the centre springs themarble dome, 70 feet in diameter and 120 feot high.The gilt orescent an the top is about 2C0 feet fromthe ground. The whole is of the finest whitemarble, and is as pure in colour as when it was firsterected. On each side there is a grand entranceformed by a single pointed arch': Every partbasement, dome, and minarets-is most elaboratelyinlaid with coloured stones, in exquisite designs.The great body of the dome itself is not inlaid,but deep borders of flowers and scrolls run roundit and up the entire walls of the building. Withinthis building, under the centre of the dome, reposethe remains of Shah Jehan and Noor Jehan. Theyare in sarcophagi of the purest white marble, mostrichly and beautifully inlaid with agate, carnelian,bloodstone, lapisl├ízuli, and other precious stones.These are in the forms of flowers of every device,and there are also inlaid inscriptions in Arabio inblack marble. As many as thirty pieces of stoneare in the petals of the flowers alone. Thesemonuments lie in a dark vault, to which youdescend by a marble staircase. Above, on a levelwith the terrace of the building, is the real monu-ment, placed exactly over the two sarcophagi below.Here are two more marble tombs, even more elabor-ately and exquisitely inlaid than the other thoughthey do not contain the ashes of the dead. Aroundthese is erected a most glorious screen of whitemarble, with panels about six feet high and threewide. Each of these ia of one piece of stone, and is cutand carved out in flowers and scrolls, cut through, bothat it has the effect of open tracery work in marble.One has been left out, and this forms the entranceto the screen. The whole of this screen is on the
solid framework, as carefully inlaid with preciousstones as are the tombs ; the sides of the hall arealso inlaid to the very spring of the dome, and thebasement squares of the walls are out in bas-reliefs,being lilies and other flowers in great variety and ofgigantic size. The various coloured stones used inthis great work were brought from all parts ofIndia, from Persia, Arabia, and Ceylon. In thedome is an echo, so sweet, so pure, and so ever-lasting, " that you seem to hear it after it is silent."
-Golden Hours. .
1878 'THE TAJ-MAHAL, AGRA.', The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), 15 January, p. 1 Supplement: The Mercury Supplement., viewed 9 March, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8958903

This picture below was published in 1902 in The Kalgoorlie Western Argus. 

1902 'THE TAJ MAHAL, FROM THE RIVER CEGRA, INDIA.',Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916), 11 February, p. 23, viewed 9 March, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32608114
As the accompanying text is too small to read I will paste it here:


This extraordinary and beautiful Mausoleum was built by the Emperor Shah Jehan, for himself and his favorite wife, who died in 1629; and 20.000men were employed incessanptly on it for 22 years. The building of this tomb cost over £5,ooo,oo. The complexity and grace of the general design, andthe elaborate perfection of the workmanship, are alike remarkable. The main features of the building are the Mausoleum, in the centre, on a raised platform surmounted by a beautiful dome, with smaller domes at each corner, and four graceful minarets 133ft. high. The principal parts of the building areconstructed of white marble, and the mosaic work of the interior is singularly rich and. beautiful.

In 1993 The Canberra Times reported that the Taj Mahal was sinking. I hope it keeps its head above water until after our visit.

1993 'No title.', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 21 July, p. 11, viewed 9 March, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127241065

These articles from long ago have given me an idea of what to expect, I will have my camera batteries fully charged so that I can capture my own images of this edifice.

If you pop over to my personal/travel blog in a day or two I may have posted some pictures there.


Anne Young said...

I am sure you will enjoy it. One of those places more beautiful than the pictures. I enjoyed the 1902 description, it brought back great memories. Regards Anne

Jill Ball said...

We had a stunning day at the Taj - it lived up to its promise.

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