You may have heard how Taj Mahal changes its colours but do you know from where you can see the precious stones on the monument sparkle?
The gems in fact dazzle your eyes, each of them reflecting sunlight just like a mirror does.
We wouldn't have known this until the guide told us about it and showed the place from where we could see the affect of the light on Taj.
We had just taken off our shoes inside the premises and had climbed the stairs to reach the platform of the mausoleum. On the left side is the mosque made of red stone and an exact replica of it--the jamatkhana [also called mehmankhana] is on the right.
The shine kept on growing. First we saw one or two stones reflecting light. Then more and more. It was an amazing experience. A lady with us was so excited that she began shouting in joy that how her eyes were bedazzled with the 'chamak' [shine].
|WAY TO SECRET UNDERGROUND CHAMBERS OF TAJ|
Had we come a bit earlier we might have seen the real impact. Also, had we been late, we wouldn't have seen the phenomenon at all.
The guide says that the effect of moon is also similar and the 'stones turn into bulbs emitting moonlight', also termed the 'pearl effect'.
From here we moved towards the Taj Mahal. We saw the amazing drainage system--star shaped holes on the floor and the 'parnalas' (spouts) on the building that aren't so easily visible unless someone draws your attention towards them.
It was breezy in the morning. The view of Taj with Jamna [Jamuna, Yamuna] river flowing behind was spectacular. The guide told us about the foundation of Taj. That there were wells dug below on which Taj Mahal was built.
WAY TO THE UNDERGROUND CHAMBERS OF TAJ
This was what we had earlier heard and also read. But now we were told the reason. One really marvelled for the wisdom of architects and engineers. Close to the boundary from where one could see the Jamna, there was the entry to the 'secret chamber' on the floor.
One could see the stairs going somewhere down into the basement. But it was locked. The passersby were throwing coins into it. Thousands of coins had gathered on the stairs which we could see through the mesh. The policemen who were present nearby looked at us and said, 'Ye hamara ATM hai'.
|Taj Mahal overlooks the river Jamuna [Yamuna now]|
They just do because they see others doing and hence follow it. [Later I saw coins thrown even inside the tomb at the mazaars' replica*].
And everyone has seen someone throwing the coins here just like they throw it from trains into the rivers while crossing over the bridges.
These secret chambers are closed and only the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials open it. They take out the coins on a regular basis but how far they go down these stairs is not known. I consulted books on Taj Mahal and later found that these were termed as 'sub-terranian chambers', which were intrinsic part of the structure.
TAJ MAHAL taller than QUTAB MINAR
In fact, even the height of minarets of the Taj can be discerned only when you reach close to the structure. Just because there are four minarets and the main structure in the midst being equally high, the visual impact of the combined structure is different, and one doesn't think of it in terms of just elevation.
MINARETS WITH 2 DEGREE TILT, TAJ MAHAL STANDS ON WELLS
Due to the tomb's vicinity to the river, the foundation had to be kept strong. Else, the structure could sink in mud or washed during the flood. Also, while the construction was going on, to keep the water away during monsoons, the conduits were built.
Series of wells were excavated in which bands of sal wood and masonry were stuffed. This is the first and last such example of hydraulic foundation anywhere in the world. Flowing river is must to survival of Taj. With Jamuna drying, the system [wood in the foundation rotting as it gets dried] would be affected.
The massive weight of the structure is distributed on this amazing foundation that has the wells beneath it. The Jamuna and the dampening effect is necessary to keep the foundation stable. Hence, it is being planned now a days to construct a dam so that the river stream could be kept at a level so that the monument's foundation remains strong.
(* The real graves are underground and were closed long back. Now only people see the replica of the mazaars above)