The Jasmine Tower, Samman Burj, or Musamman Burj or Octagonal Tower is one and the same building, which was built by Jahangir for his empress Noor Jahan. Later on it was remodelled by Shah Jahan for Mumtaj Mahal. It is a miraculus work of marble fulligral work, in laid with semi precious colorful stones. As there are so many jasmine pieces adorned in this tower – hence it is called Jasmine tower also. It is aslo the same place where Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, was kept as a prisoner by his son Aurangzeb. It is also his death place, where he breathed his last in the lap of his dear daughter Jahan Ara gazing towards the Taj, the tomb of his beloved consert. It is also the place from where the Taj Mahal is visible very clearly and appears like a shining piece of moon or the most beautiful palace of the heaven that has fallen on the earth.
From the Saman tower this is the only view we can see of the Taj Mahal, my very first one, in that foggy day.
To see such massive architectural works that has been standing for so many centuries is amazing enough, knowing the efforts and the transportation of the materials and peoples in that time, using camels, elephants and other beasts of burden carrying their imported jems and the stones to build the palaces and buildings, but what made us appreciate it in total awe is the inlaid works that seemed so intricate and delicate work of art by expert people of that time. Jewels and semi-precious stones were inlaid to the main stone creating colorful and beautiful pattern depicting their style in their era. It was really amazing considering the amount of work and man-hours those thousands of workers and slaves had to do for so many years to complete the fort and palaces. It is just a shame that those semi-precious stones were now gone as they had been stolen. But the remains of the structure is still the same in strength and beauty, you can’t help looking past the people that had done every intricacies to create such complicated designs.
There is a gate situated in the middle of the wall which is in the way of the Yamuna river. This gate is called the Water Gate. During the time of the Mughals, flowing waters of the river used to touch the walls of the fort. This gate was the entrance door of the bathing room and was used by the Harem ladies and maids. This gate is now closed.
After going through the Amar Singh Gate we walk over a ramp and enter the Great Courtyard. On the right hand sight, there’s the many pillared Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). It is really amazing that those people who did not have the precision of technology could do such geometrical works so perfectly, that every thing was symmetrical and aligned.
On the southern extremity of the fort is the gate opened for general public. Our tour guide told us that big portion of the fort is closed to public by the government and military. The Amar Singh gate was built by Shah Jahan after the name of the great Rajput hero, Amar Singh, who slew the emperial treasurer Salabat Khan after insulting him in the full court of shah Jahan in 1644 A.D. that turned the mughal army into him. Riding on his horseback, Amar Singh jumped of the high walls of the fort near the spot where the gate is now. His sincere horse was half in the ditch and half on the road dead on the spot. In memory of this marvellous incident a horse in red sandstone, the material majority of the fort is built into, was built.
After crossing the Amar Singh gate our attention was drawn into the beautiful building called Jahangiri Palace or Mahal. It is a double storied building of red sand stone which is believed to be built by Akbar the great for his son. Its walls and ceilings were painted with bright colors including golden paint in Rajput style. This palace is famous for its blend of Hindu and central Asian architectural style.
Place : Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Best time to visit : November to February
Timings : Open daily from 6 am to 5.30 pm
Admission: Child up to 15 years old free, adult 750Rs. ea
Agra has yet another important places to visit aside from the Taj. And since Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, we head up to the Agra Fort five minutes from the hotel. It is a very massive architecture spanning several square kilometers in area. the famous fort of Agra is basically constructed by mighty Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great. It is an amalgamation of buildings and palaces, which were built by Akbar, Jihangir, Shah Jahan and even Aurangzeb. Thus it is a vast museum of building of various tastes and natures of the Mughal rulers. This is the gate of the Fort with the drawbridge chain.
We finally arrived in Agra, the once a big capital of the country in Mughal times. Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, the 7th wonder of the world, and other very interesting culture and architecture of the old times, the last centuries that are somehow shadowed by the popularity of the Taj Mahal. That is why we came into Agra for. The hotel transport picked us up at the airport, we were the only passenger of the plane, so we were the only travelers in the airport in that evening. The city of Agra is under a military security, and besides, Agra is a military airport also, and later did we know about military fort, I will show later. Before entering Agra community we had to pass through a security gate. It is just a different place. Hubby said that we might see the true face of India here which is right, that i have fun and enjoyment, capturing beautiful photos, though I have to watch that it is allowed in a certain area.
The Mughal Agra is a a very nice hotel, only that we have to change room because of the AC, but besides that, everything was beautiful, the grounds are very neat and refreshing with all the water arts and plants. The people are very nice too and hospitable. One guard must have been enjoying greeting us every time we pass by, and he could also be our photographer but he should also be in one of the photos. But I really liked it. I had been wanting to take pictures of their attires and shoes, i think it’s beautiful.
Imagining the geolocation of the place, it is bearing north so as hubby’s Indian friend warned, it is so chilly cold in there. Very very cold, and we were fortunate that during our flights, it was not so foggy or we would have been stranded or further delayed. Upon arriving in the hotel Thursday, hubby arranged for the tour for two days and then we found out that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays! We still had Saturday so for Friday we will just see some other important and interesting places around the old place. While waiting for the tour guide and transport, we roamed around the hotel grounds in that chilly cold morning I had to wear several layers of clothing.
The Mughal Express train, as we had not tour guide that time, I assumed it a remain of the express train they had, the main mode of transportation in the Mughal era which was capitalized in Agra. It is run by conventional methods.