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1) The Taj Mahal (/ˈtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl/ often /ˈtɑːʒ/;

,
[2]
from Persian and Arabic,
[3][4]
"crown of
palaces", pronounced ˈːdʒ ˈ; also "the Taj"
[5]
) is a white marble mausoleum
located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in
memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the
jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the
world's heritage".
[6]
Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal
architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and
Indian architectural styles.
[7][8]
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component
of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction
began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and
craftsmen.
[9]
The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects
under imperial supervision, including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and
Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
[10][11]
Lahauri
[12]
is generally considered to be the principal
designer.
[13]

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was
grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess, died during the birth of
their 14th child, Gauhara Begum.
[15]
Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632.
[16]
The court
chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for
Taj Mahal.
[17][18]
The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings
and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these
words:
[19]

1. The Moonlight Garden to the north of the Yamuna.
2. Terrace area: Tomb, Mosque and Jawab.
3. Charbagh (gardens).
4. Gateway, attendant accommodations, and other tombs.
5. Taj Ganji (bazaar)
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.
The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian architecture and earlier
Mughal architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings
including; the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in
Samarkand),
[20]
Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj),
and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily
constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-
precious stones, and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.
[21]

Western viewed, late in the day
The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. This large, white marble
structure stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-
shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements
are Persian in origin.

2) Hampi (Kannada: ಹಂಪೆ Hampe) is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is
located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre,
housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old
city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at
Hampi.
[1]

Etymology
Hampi traditionally known as Pampa-kshetra, kishkinda-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra is derived
from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose southern banks the city
is built.
[2]
The name "Hampi" is an anglicized version of the Kannada Hampe (derived from
Pampa). Over the years, it has also been referred to as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura (from
Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers).
History
The emperor Ashoka's minor rock edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district) leads
one to believe that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BC. A
Brahmi inscription & a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century AD were also discovered from
the excavation site.
[3]

The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
[citation needed]

Immediately before the rise of the Vijaynagar kings, the region was probably in the hands of
chiefs of Kampili, now a small town, 19 km east of Hampi.
[3]

Hampi formed one of the core areas of the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1343 to
1565, when it was finally laid siege to by the Deccan Muslim confederacy.
[1]
Hampi was chosen
because of its strategic location, bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra river on one side and
surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides.
The site is significant historically and architecturally. The topography abounds with large stones
which have been used to make statues of Hindu deities. The Archaeological Survey of India
continues to conduct excavations in the area, to discover additional artifacts and temples.

3) Spread over an area of approximately 20 square kilometers on the north
eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is a major tourist and
archaeological site in Madhya Pradesh.
Khajuraho at times referred to as the Kamasutra temple is world renowned for its
sculptured temples dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Jain deities, and the sexually
explicit carvings both inside and outside the temple. A UNESCO world heritage site
Khajuraho is believed to have had over 75 temples of which 22 remain today.
Khajuraho temples are divided into three sections or zones, namely, western, eastern
and southern, according to their location. The western complex is the largest of the
three and comprises of some of the most popular temples at Khajuraho.
The temples in Khajuraho are divided into three complexes. The most popular temple
complex in Khajuraho of the three is the western complex on the western side as the
name suggests, which houses the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple - the largest temple at
Khajuraho.
The eastern group of temples of Khajuraho is about half an hour away from the
western temple comples. Brahma Temple, Vamana & Javari Temples and the
Parshvanatha Temple the largest Jain temple in Khajuraho is in the eastern
complex.
The southern group of temples in Khajuraho comprises of Duladeo temple and the
Chaturbhuja temple


4) The Ajanta Caves (Ajiṇṭhā eni; Marathi: ) in Aurangabad district of
Maharashtra, India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the
2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.
[1]
The caves include paintings and sculptures
described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as "the finest surviving
examples of Indian art, particularly painting",
[2]
which are masterpieces of Buddhist
religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.
[3]
The caves
were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BCE, with the second group of
caves built around 400–650 CE according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460
to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink.
[4]
The site is a protected
monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India,
[5]
and since 1983, the Ajanta
Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon and just outside the village
of Ajinṭhā 20°31′56″N 75°44′44″E), about 59 kilometres (37 miles) from Jalgaon railway station
on the Delhi – Mumbai line and Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai line of the Central Railway zone, and
104 kilometres (65 miles) from the city of Aurangabad. They are 100 kilometres (62 miles) from
the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples as well as Buddhist caves, the last dating
from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the
south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura), and although they are
now along and above a modern pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by
individual stairs or ladders from the side of the river 35 to 110 feet below.
[6]

The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were
covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party.
They are Buddhist monastic buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct
"monasteries" or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to 28 according to their place along the
path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely begun and others are
small shrines, included in the traditional numbering as e.g. "9A"; "Cave 15A" was still hidden
under rubble when the numbering was done.
[7]
Further round the gorge are a number of
waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves.
[8]

The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; other survivals from the area of
modern India are very few, though they are related to 5th-century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri
Lanka.
[9]

[10]
The elaborate architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of
the many figure sculptures is highly local, found only at a few nearby contemporary sites,
although the Ajanta tradition can be related to the later Hindu Ellora Caves and other sites.
[1


5) Fatehpur Sikri (Hindi: फतेहप

र सीकरी, Urdu: یرکیس روپحتف ) is a city and a municipal
board in Agra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The city was founded in 1569
by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571
to 1585.
[1]
After his military victories over Chittor and Ranthambore, Akbar decided to
shift his capital from Agra to a new location 23 miles (37 km) W.S.W on the Sikri ridge,
to honor the Sufi saint Salim Chishti. Here he commenced the construction of a planned
walled city which took the next fifteen years in planning and construction of a series of
royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings.
[2]
He
named the city, Fatehabad, with Fateh, a word of Arabic origin in Persian, meaning
"victorious." it was later called Fatehpur Sikri.
[3]
It is at Fatehpur Sikri that the legends of
Akbar and his famed courtiers, the nine jewels or Navaratnas, were born.
[citation needed]

Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal architecture in India.
[4]

According to contemporary historians, Akbar took a great interest in the building of Fatehpur
Sikri and probably also dictated its architectural style. Seeking to revive the splendours of
Persian court ceremonial made famous by his ancestor Timur, Akbar planned the complex on
Persian principles. But the influences of his adopted land came through in the typically Indian
embellishments. The easy availability of sandstone in the neighbouring areas of Fatehpur Sikri,
also meant that all the buildings here were made of the red stone. The imperial Palace complex
consists of a number of independent pavilions arranged in formal geometry on a piece of level
ground, a pattern derived from Arab and central Asian tent encampments. In its entirety, the
monuments at Fatehpur Sikri thus reflect the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional
architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own.
[5]

The Imperial complex was abandoned in 1585, shortly after its completion, due to
paucity of water and its proximity with the Rajputana areas in the North-West,
which were increasingly in turmoil. Thus the capital was shifted to Lahore so that
Akbar could have a base in the less stable part of the empire, before moving back
Agra in 1598, where he had begun his reign as he shifted his focus to Deccan.
[6]
In
fact, he never returned to the city except for a brief period in 1601.
[7][8]
In later
Mughal history it was occupied for a short while by Mughal emperor, Muhammad
Shah (r. 1719 -1748), and his regent, Sayyid Hussain Ali Khan Barha, one of the Syed
Brothers, was murdered here in 1720. Today much of the imperial complex which
spread over nearly two mile long and one mile wide area is largely intact and
resembles a ghost town. It is still surrounded by a five mile long wall built during its
original construction, on three sides. However apart from the imperial buildings
complex few other buildings stand in the area, which is mostly barren, except of
ruins of the bazaars of the old city near the Naubat Khana, the 'drum-house'
entrance at Agra Road. The modern town lies at the western end of the complex,
which was a municipality from 1865 to 1904, and later made a "notified area", and
in 1901 had a population of 7,147. For a long time it was still known for its masons
and stone carvers, though in Akbar time it was known anArchitecture of Fatehpur
Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri sits on rocky ridge, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) in length and 1 km (0.62 mi) wide, and
palace city is surrounded by a 6 km (3.7 mi)
[4]
wall on three side with the fourth being a lake at
the time.
[9]
Its architect was Tuhir Das and was constructed using Indian principles. The
buildings of Fatehpur Sikri show a synthesis of various regional schools of architectural
craftsmanship such as Gujarat and Bengal. This was because indigenous craftsmen used for the
construction of the buildings.
[citation needed]
Influences from Hindu and Jain architecture are seen
hand in hand with Islamic elements. The building material used in all the buildings at Fatehpur
Sikri, palace-city complex, is the locally quarried red sandstone, known as 'Sikri sandstone'.
[10][11]

It is accessed through gates along the five-mile long fort wall, namely, Delhi Gate, the Lal Gate,
the Agra Gate, Birbal's Gate, Chandanpal Gate, The Gwalior Gate, the Tehra Gate, the Chor Gate
and the Ajmere Gate.
[12]


Elephanta Caves
Elephanta anciently known as "Gharapuri" or the Fort Town, the island capital of
Konkan Mauryas, is celebrated for its colossal image of Maheshamurti with three heads
each representing a different form. Later the Portuguese took possession of the island
and as they first found a monolith elephant the island was named Elephanta.

Many Faces Of Shiva - Elephanta Caves
There are seven caves out of which the most important is the Mahesha-Murti cave. The
main body of the cave, excluding the porticos on the three open sides and the back isle,
is 27 metres square and is supported by rows of six columns each. The gigantic figures
of Dvarapalas, or doorkeepers here are very impressive.

The cave temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was excavated sometime in the 8th century
by the Rashtrakuta Kings who ruled the area between AD 757-973. Elephanta
closelyfollows the pattern of the Dumar Lena cave in Ellora.

There are sculptured compartments in this cave with remarkable images of
Ardhanarisvara, Kalyana-Sundara Shiva, Ravana lifting Kailasha, Andhakari-Murti
(slaying of Andhaka demon) and Nataraja Shiva.

Elephanta - A Tourist Spot
Elephanta also makes an ideal holiday spot with plenty of pretty nooks and corners as
well as pleasant picnic spots to visit. For the ones interested in archaeology and
architecture Elephanta caves provide a fascinating study in the rock architecture and
sculptural art of India.



Red Fort (Lal Qila)
About Red Fort
Shah Jahan, famed not only for his leadership capabilities but also for his great
architectural accomplishments, was one of the greatest rulers of the Mughal Dynasty in
India. In 1638 when the emperor moved the capital of India from Agra to Delhi, a new
royal palace was constructed. Known as the Red Fort (Lal Qila), it was begun around
1640 and completed by 1648.

Architecture of Red Fort
The name comes from the massive red sandstone walls, some up to 110 feet high,
which surround this magnificent piece of Mughal architecture. The palace is made of
white marble and decorated in gold and precious stones. Shah Jahan's throne lay in the
middle of the palace, and on the ceiling above was written in gold lettering "If there is a
paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this." The Red Fort is one of the most
magnificent palaces in the world. India's history is also closely linked with Red Fort

Attractions within the Red Fort
The Red Fort served as the center of the Mughal Empire for more than 200 years. Lal
Qila (Red Fort) is actually a series of individual pavilions, each with a specific purpose.
The Khas Mahal served as the emperor's private quarters and was the most exquisitely
decorated of all the pavilions.

The Diwan-i-khas in Red Fort was designed to reflect heaven and served as the private
audience hall. All public audiences were held in the Diwan-i-am, and secret meetings
took place in the Royal Tower, or Shah Burj.

On the north of the Diwan-i-Khas lies the bathroom set or Hammam, consisting of three
apartments separated by corridors. The floors and dados of these apartments are built
with marble, inlaid with floral patterns of multicoloured stones. The two rooms on either
side of the present entrance were used.

To the west of the Hammam lies the small mosque, called the Moti-Masjid (Pearl
Mosque), built by Aurangzeb for his personal use. The prayer-hall of the mosque is
inlaid with outlines of 'Musallas' (small carpets for prayers) in black marble, and it stands
at a higher level than the courtyard.

Qutub Minar
Qutub-Minar in red and buff standstone is the highest tower in India. It has a diameter of 14.32m
at the base and about 2.75m on the top with a height of 72.5m. Construction & Restoration
Work
Qutb-u'd-Din Aibak laid the foundation of Qutab Minar in AD 1199 for the use of Mu'azzin (crier)
to give calls for prayer and raised the first storey, to which were added three more storeys by his
successor and son-in-law, Shamsu'd-Din IItutmish (AD 1211-36). All the storeys are surrounded
by a projected balcony encircling the Minar and supported by stone brackets, which are
decorated with honeycomb design, more conspicuously in the first storey.

Numerous inscriptions in Arabic and Nagari characters in different places of the Minar reveal the
history of Qutb. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firoz Shah
Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517). Major R. Smith also repaired and
restored the Qutub Minar in 1829.

Attractions Within The Qutab Minar Complex
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the northeast of Minar was built by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak in AD 1198.
It is the earliest extant -mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a rectangular courtyard
enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Hindu
and Jain temples, which were demolished by Qutbu'd-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription
on the main eastern entrance.

Later, a lofty arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged, by Shamsu'd- Din
IItutmish (AD 1210-35) and Alau'd-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard bears an inscription
in Sanskrit in Brahmi script of 4th century AD, according to which the pillar was set up as a
Vishnudhvaja (standard of Lord Vishnu) on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty
king named Chandra. A deep socket on the top of the ornate capital indicates that probably an
image of Garuda was fixed into it.

The Tomb of IItutmish (AD 1211-36) was built in AD 1235. It is a plain square chamber of red
sandstone, profusely carved with inscriptions, geometrical and arabesque patterns in Saracenic
tradition on the entrances and the whole of interior. Some of the motifs viz., the wheel, tassel,
etc., are reminiscent of Hindu designs. Ala 'i- Darwaza, the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-
Islam mosque was constructed by Alau'd-Din Khalji in AH 710 (AD 1311) as recorded in the
inscriptions engraved on it. This is the first building employing Islamic principles of construction
and ornamentation.

Alau'd-Din Khalji commenced Ala'i Minar, which stands to the north of Kutub-Minar, with the
intention of making it twice the size of earlier Minar. He could complete only the first storey,
which now has an extant height of 25 m. The other remains in the Qutab complex comprise
Madrasa, graves, tombs, mosque and architectural members.

Agra Fort
The Fort in Agra is one of the earliest surviving Mughal buildings in the city. Agra Fort
also represents the first major building project of Emperor Akbar, though remains of only
a few buildings built by him now survive.

Agra Fort was built on an earlier castle site in AD 1565-75, apart from other important
units the massive fortress contains 'Jahangiri Mahal', 'Khass Mahal', 'Diwan-i-Khass',
'Diwan-i-Am', 'Machchhi Bhawan' and the breathtaking Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque.
Many extant buildings were erected later on by Shah Jahan (AD 1630-55).

Irregularly triangular on plan, Agra Fort is enclosed by a double battlemented 70-foot
high wall of red sandstone, which is about 2-km in perimeter and interrupted by graceful
curves and lofty bastions. Of its four gates, the most impressive is the Delhi Gate on the
west.

Attractions Within The Fortress - Agra Fort
Stone fortifications were used to replace the older brick foot. Many buildings were
constructed within the Agra Fort to which very few remain till date. But enough remains
to give the visitor a flavour of the past. What makes it more interesting is the fact that
one can easily trace here the architectural styles of the three emperors who ruled from
the Agra Fort.

One of the most significant buildings of Agra Fort is the multi-storeyed Jahangiri Mahal
overlooking the river. Built by Akbar for his wife, Jodha Bai, the Mahal is reached
through an impressive gateway.

Later, Akbar's grandson Shahjahan dismant;led all the structures that Akbar and
Jahangir had built inside the Agra fort and replaced them with white marble pavilions
covered with inlay work such as the Diwa-i-khas, the Mausam Burj, the Shaha Burj.
Away from the waterfront he built the Moti Masjid and Diwan-i-Am.

Travellers visit Agra for the Taj Mahal.. however, it is also famous for the Agra Fort.
Agra fort is the second most attractive monument of Agra city and worth a visit for any
art and history lover.

Charminar
Charminar, a splendid piece of architecture standing in the heart of the hyderabad city
built by Quli Qutub Shah, in 1591. This magnificent monument is the unique symbol of
Hyderabad. Charminar is often called as "The Arc de triomphe of the East". It is
considered as the legendary masterpiece of Qutub Shahi's.

Charminar derives its name from four intricately carved minarets, The four graceful
minarets literally meaning 'Four Minars', soar to a height of 48.7m each, above the
ground. It is located amidst the colourful shops of Lad Bazaar with its glittering
traditional bangles in the old city. Enormous in its size, this imposing monument of India
exudes a charm that is more than 400 years old

The Qutub Shahi Reign
The history of Hyderabad begins with the establishment of the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
Owing to the inadequacy of water and frequent epidemics of plague and cholera Quli
Qutub Shah established the new city with the Charminar at its centre with four great
roads fanning out in four cardinal directions.

The plan is a square, each side 20m long, while the four arches are 11m wide and rise
20m from the plinth. The four-storeyed minarets rise 20m from the roof of the massive
monument and measure 24m from the plinth. The western section of the roof contains a
mosque, ranking among the finest the gifted Qutub Shahi artisans ever built.

There are 45 prayer spaces with a large open space in front to accommodate more for
Friday prayers. To the east of this space is a lovely verandah with a large open arch in
the centre, flanked by smaller ones on both sides.

A Representation Of Indo-Sarcenic Tradition - Charminar in India
The Charminar was built with granite and lime-mortar. It is a blend of 'Cazia' and Islamic
style of architecture. The intertwined arches and domes are examples of typical Islamic
style of the architecture. The graceful floral motif atop the Charminar is enchanting. The
Charminar depicts the Indo-Saracenic tradition - a symbiosis of the Hindu and the
Muslim traditions, which has woven the magic of a rich Deccan culture. The Charminar
looks spectacular particularly in the nights when it is illuminated.

It offers an excellent panoramic view of the city and Golconda Fort, which makes the
mind go back into time and recapitulates the past glory of Hyderabad during the Qutub
Shahi times. Charminar has become an inseparable part of the history of Hyderabad.