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Andrew Dispatch

The Things We Do for Love - The Story Behind the Taj Mahal
May 6, 2000

Map

The story of the Taj Mahal is one of the greatest love stories of all time. The Taj Mahal is one of the more awesome buildings I have seen on this trek. It is located in Agra, in Northern India. Many locals and others who have viewed it considered it worthy to be on lists of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Four Lists of Seven Wonders

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

1. Pyramids of Egypt at Giza
2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
3. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
4. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
6. Colossus of Rhodes
7. Lighthouse of Alexandria
source: World Book Encyclopedia

Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages:
1. Coliseum at Rome
2. Catacombs of Alexandria
3. Great Wall of China
4. Leaning Tower of Pisa
5. Porcelain Tower of Nanking
6. Mosque of St Sophia at Constantinople
7. Ruins of Stonehenge
source: Five Thousand Facts and Fancies

Seven Natural Wonders of the World:
1. Grand Canyon
2. Mount Everest
3. Ayers Rock
4. Matterhorn (not the one in Disneyland)
5. Victoria Falls
6. Meteor Crater
7. Great Barrier Reef
source: World Book Encyclopedia

Seven Wonders of the Modern World
1. Suez Canal
2. Dneproges Dam on the Dnepr River (USSR)
3. Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, England
4. Alaska (ALCAN) Highway
5. Golden Gate Bridge
6. Eiffel Tower
7. Empire State Building
source: Redi-Reference

It really is impressive. Upon seeing it, I had to wonder, "Who built this masterpiece, and why?"

Shah Jahan was the local ruler in the mid-1600's, and when his wife died, he was so heartbroken that he decided to build a huge, elaborate mausoleum to her.

Click image
for larger view
A young admirer of the Taj Mahal
Caption

When we arrived at the palace, braving the heat of the day, we caught our first glimpse of the beauty that is the Taj Mahal. It was better than we ever could have imagined.

It took 20,000 workers, working day and night, 22 years to complete the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was very pleased with the results.

Vocabulary

mausoleum - tomb where someone is buried
pristine - very clean

Unfortunately, the story of the Taj Mahal is not all a story of love and goodness. For one thing, the Taj Mahal is considered by some to be on the verge
Click image for larger view
The four minarets around the Taj lean outwards at a 6-degree angle to protect the structure in case of an earthquake
Caption
of falling down. Why? Well, the once pristine white marble building is now covered in cracks, and the stone has been yellowed after years of exposure to pollution. The Indian government is taking many measures now to protect and preserve the building, such as
Click image for larger view
Andrew and Monica say <em>namaste</em> and welcome to the Taj Mahal!
Caption
planting trees and limiting cars near the palace, but Agra still suffers from heavy pollution.

Every Monday the Taj is closed to the public so that master craftsmen can work on restoration and repair.

Andrew

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...andrewcote@bigfoot.com
 

Brian - Beginnings and Endings
Jasmine - Indiana Jazz and the Temple of Doom
Kavitha - Delhi -- A City I Love to Hate

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