Mughal mosque

Kabutar and mosque

The mosque to the west of the Taj Mahal is a superb example of Mughal-era architecture. And it’s too often ignored by tourists who are focused on the gorgeous monument just to the east.

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You can’t stop staring


The Taj Mahal, western elevation, from the archway of the adjacent mosque.

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The world’s most beautiful building


My fourth trip to the Taj Mahal. It’s still overwhelmingly beautiful.

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Protected: You’re in India. Don’t say cheese.

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Fruited plains

Bazaar fruit. Not bizarre fruit.

Papaya, from the crowded bazaar lanes in Fatehpur Sikri, once the headquarters of the Mughal Empire on the hot Uttar Pradesh plains. The word bazaar, comes from Persian and subsequently Hindi, by the way.

The smoke in the photo is from the incense that many wallahs burn near their stalls.

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The cloistered life of wealth

Flight of the pigeons

An interior courtyard at the palace of Mariam-uz-Zamani, known today as Jodhabai, the Rajput princess who became wife to Mughal emporer Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, or Akbar the Great. Her palace today is a World Heritage site at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.

Today, the warrens of Fatehpur and nearby Agra are tourist nightmares. They represent the ghoul that arises when Western wealth and gullibility meet Indian poverty and aggressive entrepreneurship. The touts, the scams, the hawkers as well as the ignorance and self-rigteous behavior (from both sides, mind you). Oy. There are few places in India I like less.

But inside Jodhabai’s haven — and similarly inside the Taj Mahal — one finds respite. Of course, behind the peaceful walls, I’m not unlike a member of the Mughal court of the 1500s, cloistered safely away from the poor, common folk hustling and bustling in the dirt outside.

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