National Monuments of India
The most important and the renowned monument in India is the Monument of Love-
The Taj Mahal – made of white marble signifying the eternal love between emperor Shahjahan and his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. There is no other monument in the world that can match the beauty and grandeur of Taj Mahal. Set amongst the serene ambiance of a well laid out garden, the massive marble structure of the Taj Mahal is awe-inspiring.
Taj Mahal building is constructed of semi translucent white marble carved with flowers and inlaid with thousands of semiprecious stones. It was completed in 22 years and employed twenty thousand workers. It is a symbol of love. The Taj is considered a must visited before death by many.
The Red Fort is another marvel of architecture and it could perhaps be singled out as yet another monument, which should not escape the tourist’s eyes. Known as Lal Qila (lal means red and qila means fort), it is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon.
It is surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 Kilometers in circumference and is built of Red Sandstone. The Mughal King Shah Jahan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and the fort was completed in 1648, nine years after the king shifted to this city.
The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahore Gate. It has the Diwan-e-am, where the king would grant audience to the public to listen to their problems. The other feature is the Diwan-e-Khas (khas means special) where the king would grant audience to important people. Besides this, it has the Rang Mahal, the water-cooled apartment for the royal ladies. In the basement of the fort is a market where several traditional Indian goods can be purchased at nominal rates. Another attraction is the Light and Sound show held in the evenings.
The 5 storeyed Qutub Minar is a remarkable instance of sculpture in India. The 72.5 m high Victory Pillar stands as a victory stand of a Muslim King Kutub-ud-din-Aibak in India. In 1199 Kutub-ud-Din started its construction and it was completed in 1236 by Iltutmish, the son-in-law of Kutub. However, there is a 2nd opinion. Some say, the construction came to an end around 1357-68 during the reign of Feroz Sah Tughlak.
However, the Kutub which was built in Afghan style underwent repairing and remaking for more than occasions. Revolving steps of flights are 367 in number. At the root, the radius is being 14.40 m which gradually reduced at its top to 2.44 m. In Kupee language it has been inscribed on Kutub that- The Tower was erected to cast the shadow of God over both East and West. Aayaat from Quran is also inscribed. At the foot of the Minar, a Mosque was built in 1197.
Charminar built by Quli Qutub Shah, in 1591 is a splendid piece of architecture standing in the heart of the Hyderabad city.The monument was built to commemorate the eradication of plague. Legends tell that the emperor Quli Qutb Shah prayed for the end of plague and took the vow to build a mosque on that very place. He ordered the construction of the mosque which became popular as Charminar because of its four characteristic minarets.
The Charminar is a beautiful and impressive square monument, with each side measuring 20 m, and each of the edges having a pointed high minaret.The four graceful minarets literally meaning ‘Four Minars’, soar to a height of 48.7m each, above the ground. Each minaret has four storeys, each looking like a delicately carved ring around the minaret. Each of the four arches has a clock which were put up in 1889. The top floor of the four-storeyed structure has a mosque which has 45 covered prayer spaces and some open space to accommodate more people in Friday prayers.
It was built with granite and lime-mortar. Charminar is often called as “The Arc de triomphe of the East” and it exudes a charm that is more than 400 years old. The Charminar looks spectacular particularly in the nights when it is illuminated.
Jaipur’s landmark building, the Hawa Mahal or the Wind Palace is a multi layered palace, built by Sawai Pratap Singh (grand son of Sawai Jai Singh and son of Sawai Madhoo Singh) in 1799 AD. The Palace was designed by Mr. Lal Chand Usta, a famous architect of the time.
Known for it’s beehive like structure, the Hawa Mahal is an interplay of red and pink sand stone, enthusiastically outlined with white borders and motifs. The intricately carved facades of the Hawa Mahal are as ornate as the interiors. The five storeyed facade encrusted with elegant trellis work on windows and small balconies have 953 niches. A part of the Jaipur city palace complex, the Hawa Mahal with pierced windows was purposely made to allow the royal women to watch the activities and the ceremonial processions while seated behind the small windows, without themselves being seen.
The Victoria Memorial, completed in 1921, sits on the banks of the Hugli River in the Maidan, a large park in the city of Kolkata. The domed marble structure was built to commemorate Queen Victoria, who ruled India from 1876 to 1901. It was erected on orders of the Viceroy of British India, Lord Curzon.
At the top of the dome is a 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Victory mounted on ball bearings. Though not a true weathervane, it rotates when the wind is strong enough. To this day, the museum at the Victoria Memorial is the best in India. Some of the marble for the Victoria Memorial is from the same quarry as the stone for the Taj Mahal.
Jama Masjid or the Jami Masjid was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, between 1644 and 1658 and is the final architectural piece built by him. Situated in the ancient town of Old Delhi, this pride of the Mughals was built by five thousand artisans. The mosque stands on Bho Jhala, which is one of the old Mughal capital cities of Shahjahanbad. Originally called the Masjid-i-Jahanuma, or “mosque commanding view of the world”, this magnificent structure is the largest and most exquisite mosque in India and is made up of alternate vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble.
On the east, this monument faces the Lal Quila (Red Fort) and has three gateways, four towers and two minarets. The gateways in the north and south are led by a fleet of steps. The main eastern entrance remains closed on most days of the week and was perhaps used by the Emperors. The main prayer hall is used on most days by worshippers and is made up of high cusped arches and marble domes.
The Shore Temple of the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram dates from the 8th century AD. This five-storeyed Hindu monument is a pyramidal structure 60 ft high and 50 ft square at the base.The temple is perched on a rocky outcrop and presides over the shoreline. The temple served as a landmark by day and a beacon by night. It was designed to catch the first rays of the rising sun and to illuminate the waters after dark. Thus the temple has an unusual layout.
Each has a garbhagriha in which the Sivalinga is housed, and a small mandapa, the whole surrounded by a heavy outer wall with little space between for circulation. At the rear are two shrines facing opposite directions. The inner shrine of Ksatriyasimnesvara is reached from the ambulatory passage while the other, dedicated to Vishnu, faces the outside. The outer wall of the shrine to Vishnu and the inner side of the boundary wall are extensively sculptured. The Shore temple is not a living temple. It is speculated that this edifice was constructed essentially as a work of art rather than as a place of worship. The Shore temple is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India.