It is an epitome of love, a sheer poetry of passion, an artistic brilliance representing the ardour of love and the agony of lovers departed by the death and then commingled by the same. It is THE TAJ MAHAL.
Died in the fort of Asirgarh, the beloved wife of the fifth Mughal emperor- Mumtaj mahal was buried here years later.
Being a very non-romantic person, Taj was not on my “to-be-visited” list but being a student of history and a lover of beautiful monuments specially those representing the extravagant lifestyle of the Mughals; I had to visit the Taj. The architecture of the Taj is not only beautiful but also very unique and advance as compared to other structures of its era. On the entry from huge gate just before the Taj mahal, Taj looks as if it is floating in the sky and I thought I was the only one to experience that but going through many books regarding history, I got to know that it was the style adopted by its makers to make it look like that- floating in the sky as if it is a building that belongs neither to the earth nor to the sky. Turning around to see the interior part of the gate, I was glad to behold the incised work on the inner side of the red gate of sand stone and realized that it is something which cannot be ignored while entering the complex.
The fountain with bubbles of water in a straight symmetry in the center with the pathways both the sides leading to the tomb is imperial in its own way. Beautiful flowers and lush resembling green velvet carpet with red and grey stones on the pathway makes the whole experience very rich.
But the magnificence of this most beautiful building of India is experienced when you reach the main complex outside the mausoleum of Mumtaj Mahal-people coming from the huge main gate known as darwaza-i-rauza of sandstone with white marble, dome of Taj touching the sky, minarets on four sides of the main building, mosque on one side of the tomb and the building made for the pilgrims to rest-who would come to visit the mausoleum-on the other side….everything looks stupendous and spectacular.
But this is not enough; every inch of this structure tells the story of eternal love and every corner shows the beauty which doesn’t only have the random doodling and designing but has a meaning. The Persian verses in calligraphy on the marble walls around the entry door with black marbles inlaid are taken from the holy book of Quran.
The design of marble jali lattice and reflective tiles in and around the sarcophagus is ethereal.
Plant motifs here caught my special attention. They are designed as if are unfurling or swinging with the blow of wind. Flowers carved in the marble makes it clear that Shah Jahan wanted to make Taj mahal a replica of paradise on earth.
The intricate work is praiseworthy. The details of pietra dura jali inlay and intricate pierce work is spellbinding.
Filial on the top of the main dome also believed to be the tamga(stamp or seal) of the Mughal Empire which looks majestically grand and imperial in look must have made Taj look like a paradise in the sixteenth century with Koh-I-Noor atop of it.
In short, from the filial at the top in the form oftamga to the stones on the floor, every nook and cranny of the Taj is remarkably beautiful. Taj is not just a paragon of love but it is the love personified itself in the form of this beautiful white tomb. It is an epitome of exceptionally astounding prowess of the architect and the workers involved in making it as well as of their aesthetic sense.
All that I can say after visiting the Taj Mahal is that the archetypal beauty of Taj does not only compel us to praise it because it has a tragic quintessential love saga being told to us since centuries but also the effort and efficiency of the workers who left no stone unturned to make this monument of love the way it is and did their utmost in all the ways possible to fulfill the megalomania of a Mughal emperor. It is not only a love story which has made Taj a monument of love but also the other way round; it is this structure which has made the love of an emperor eternal and immortal and THAT probably is the reason why Taj Mahal is and SHOULD be visited by one and all- to experience an ethereal love story, to feel that two lovers and not an emperor and an empress are resting in peace here, to know how vulnerable we all are in front of love and death, to see how love can probably look if manifested in a form, to see the grandeur of the Mughal architects and workers and of course…..to feel the love in the air here…so pack your bags and get ready…to live the experience yourself and to feel the love.
Pictures courtesy- All the pictures were clicked by me and some are originally posted on my Facebook page Shekhar’s photography-www.facebook.com/Shekharsphotography001/
Hindu mythology has characters that are so formidable, impressively large and larger than life that it sometimes seems impossible to believe that such characters ever walked this planet or ever existed. Today I would write about such female characters of Hindu mythology who are not only considered magnificently strong but also had magnetic and extraordinary beauty and charm in terms of physical appearance. These beautiful women were not only mere objects of beauty but they also changed the course of Hindu mythology time to time.
Tilottama– In Adi Parva of Mahabharata, when Pandavas marry Draupadi, sage Naarad tells them that a woman can become a reason of quarrel between brothers and recites the story of two demon brothers Sunda and Upsunda who loved each other so much that when Lord Brahma refused to grant them boon of immortality, they asked for the boon that only they could kill each other for they knew the fact that they would never kill each other as there was no object that could come between the brotherly love that they had had. But a woman became the reason of quarrel between them. You are right. That woman was Tilottama!
When Sunda and Upsunda wreaked havoc in the universe, drove devatas out of heaven and started killing and harassing the sages and common humans, devatas witnessed that there is no reason of quarrel between these demon brothers and there is no hope of their death, they went to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma ordered the divine architect Vishwakarma to create a woman whose beauty is something never witnessed in the three worlds so that she could seduce them and bring them to their fate i.e. death by each other. Now Vishwakarma collected all the valuable gems he could possibly gather from the three worlds and created a woman who had the beauty unrivaled and unparalleled. She was sent for the task and she started plucking flowers at the bank of the river in Vindhya Mountains where the two brothers were relishing liquor. After witnessing the beauty they never had seen in the three worlds they both wanted to marry her but none of them wanted to hand her to the other. They eventually started the duel and ultimately killed each other. The reason of the contention between brothers was made and had won the battle from devatas’s side.
Name given to her was Tilottama. Now ‘Til’ means sesame seeds and ‘Uttam’ means of very high quality or best quality making the meaning of Tilottama=every bit (even the size of sesame seed) of whose body is perfect. Such was her beauty that even Lord Shiva who is known for his ascetic nature and no materialistic wish or desire was enchanted by her beauty.
There is a story that lord Brahma despite of the fact that she was like his daughter, was aroused by her charm and luster emanating from her body and hence sent her to mount Kailash so that she could offer her obeisance to lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was spellbound and since goddess Parvati was sitting beside him and he couldn’t see Tilottama because of her presence, faces emerged on all four sides of his head so that he could see Tilottama while she was circumambulating around him and goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati put her hands on his eyes veiling the universe in darkness and thus his third eye emerges.
Another version says that Shiva revealed himself to Tilottama as the five Brahmans, with his five faces. The east face signifying his sovereignty over the world, the north face to sport with Parvati, the west to ensure the happiness of creatures; the south face, to destroy the universe and the fifth face was invisible as it was beyond the comprehension of Tilottama.
At last, Lord Brahma granted Tilottama a boon that no one could stare at her for more than few seconds for her glittering luster and enchanting beauty and also that she could roam freely in whole universe without any restriction.
Urvashi– When Nar–Narayan(Nar later on took birth as Arjun of Mahabharata, and Narayan was of course Lord Krishna aka Narayan) were practicing penance and meditating in Badrinath region, Indra(King of demigods in heaven) got scared due to the intensity of their meditation of one thousand years and didn’t want them to acquire divine powers and hence, in order to break their meditation sent two celestial nymphs or apsaras–Rambha and Menaka along with other supporting apsaras. Indra was of course ignorant in knowing the reality of Nar and lord Narayan.
When apsaras told Nar and Narayan that Indra has presented Nar–Narayan the most beautiful apsaras of heaven and Narayan realized that she was supercilious about her beauty and was extremely proud of herself, he struck his thigh with a flower and from there emerged a woman whose beauty was more than enough to put the apsaras of Indra to shame. She was born from the ‘UR’ part of the thigh, and thus was named Urvashi by Narayan.
Narayan did so to make apsaras realize that physical beauty and materialistic possessions are not to be so proud of and then asked the apsaras to take Urvashi with them and to present her to Indra from his behalf. Apsaras finally realized their mistake and apologized to Nar–Narayan and left for the heaven.
Since Urvashi was born from the thigh of lord himself, her beauty is considered as unparalleled. After this incident, Urvashi became the glory or the most beautiful apsara of Indra’s court. Not only this but she is also considered as one of the most beautiful women in Hindu Mythology.
Mandodari-Mandodari(wife of demon king Raavan)is described in Ramayan as a ‘beautiful’ woman.
Though her beauty is not much discussed in the epic but her beauty can be understood by some versions of Ramayan which narrates that when Hanuman visited Lanka for the very first time to search Sita, he thought Mandodari to be Sita because the description of Sita’s beauty by Ram and others matched that of Mandodari’s appearance. That, in itself is sufficient to tell that Mandodari was extremely beautiful and virtuous lady.
Ahalya- What can be said of the woman who is considered as not born of a woman. Yes you read that right. According to Ramayan it is considered that Ahalya was created by Lord Brahma by molding pure creative energy.
According to Mahari dance tradition, Brahma created her with water as the most beautiful woman in order to break pride and arrogance of Urvashi whose beauty is already known to us and has also been stated above. Such was her beauty that Indra(king of demigods in heaven) couldn’t control his desire to get her and took form of her husband sage Gautam to seduce her, eventually getting a curse both for himself as well as her.
Ahalya is considered as one of the most beautiful woman ever created.
Damyanti- Princess of Vidharbha kingdom, Damyanti was extremely beautiful. It was her beauty that made demigods like Indra, Yama, Agni, and Varun come from heaven to participate and marry her in her Swayamvar.
But she fell in love with Nala of Nishad kingdom just by listening about his virtues. Described in VanaParva of epic Mahabharata, Damyanti is one of the most beautiful and revered woman in Hindu Myhtology.
Mohini- What can anyone say about the beauty of a woman who was god almighty himself who took form of a woman and that too to entice the asuras. After Samudramanthan i.e. the churning of the ocean when devatas and asuras got into a quarrel about the possession of amrit i.e. nector of immortality, lord Vishnu came himself for the solution taking form of a woman named Mohini(one who attracts) who was so beautiful that asuras couldn’t resist her beauty and forgot all about amrit giving Mohini the chance to present all the amrit to devatas. She also beheaded a demon named Rahu who, by deception tried to consume amrit.
But this is not enough. Known as an ascetic who is completely detached from the worldly affairs, Lord Shiva also got allured by Mohini’s beauty. According to many different versions of Mohini’s story, Shiva went completely mad and crazy about Mohini and wanted to consummate with her.
As per BrahmandaPuran, as a result of Lord Shiva’s love for her, two deities, Ayappa of Kerala and Aiyanar of Tamil Nadu were born. At last, Lord Vishnu revealed his real form to Lord Shiva and told him that even Lord Shiva could not escape his Maya(illusion).
Mohini, known as femme fatale and a beauty that brings doom to the seduced male, again comes in Hindu Mythology. This time to save Lord Shiva from demon Bhasmasur who at last met his end by using the boon given by Shiva on himself which said that anyone on whose head he would put his hand, would burst into flames and would turn into ashes. Mohini seduced and allured Bhasmasur and he forgot about boon and put his hand on his own head while dancing and imitating Mohini.
Known as an ultimate enchantress, Mohini is one of the most or some say, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN in Hindu Mythology.
Rukmini- Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi herself, Rukmini is considered as one of the two most beautiful women in Mahabharata. Daughter of king Bheeshmak, king of Vidarbha, Rukmini was a perfect princess. In Mahabharata, it is said that she was such a beauty of Dwapar yug that every king of that era wished to marry her but she was already in love with Lord Krishna whose virtue, valour, gallantry and charm was enough to make her fall in love with him.
Rejection of Shishupal by Rukmini was one major reason of hostility in his heart for Lord Krishna.
Draupadi- As I wrote above that Rukmini was one of the two most beautiful women of Mahabharata, its obvious to write about the other one as well who was none other than one of the main characters of Mahabharata i.e., Draupadi. Born out of sacrificial fire of Yagna, Draupadi’s beauty was fiery as well. Dark in complexion, Draupadi was a beauty whose swayamvar was attended by almost all the greatest warrior kings and princes of that era but it was the hero of Mahabharata, Arjun who won her in the swayamvar.
Draupadi’s virtue and beauty was known to whole world since she was born as an adult from sacrificial fire. According to Mahabharata, she was the most beautiful woman of Dwaparyug whose beauty could be matched only with Rukmini. It was her beauty which made Naarad recite Pandavas the story of Tilottama telling them how such a beautiful woman can make even brothers enemies of each other.
In Hindu Mythology, Draupadi is considered as one of the most beautiful women ever walked this earth.
Sita- We often talk about the best creation in any list of best people in the last and that logic applies here as well. Last but definitely not the least but in fact the MOST beautiful woman ever created or known to the creation of God in Hindu Mythology is undoubtedly Goddess or MaaSita. Unlike many other women stated above, Sita was neither created by god nor born of some divine course. She in fact was a self manifested form of Goddess Lakshmi in Tretayug to be with his divine consort Lord Vishnu in RamAvatar and was found from the womb of earth by King Janak of Mithila who raised her as his own daughter.
In Ramayan, it is said that her beauty was unparalleled and was second to none. It is even written that even Goddess Parvati and Goddess Lakshmi could not match her beauty as they had particular physical appearances and attires because of living in mountains and ocean respectively. But Sita was completely PERFECT in all the manners possible. If Mandodari’s beauty was not described in much detail in Ramayan then a reason behind it is the presence of Sita in the epic.
The beauty that she had can be understood by the fact that Raavan(demon king who had conquered the three worlds and who abducted her later) who had all the apsaras or heavenly nymphs, and all the most beautiful women from the three worlds as his maids was spellbound when he, for the very first time had the opportunity to behold her. Raavan who had become crazy for Sita just by the description given by Shurpnakha was speechless after witnessing it himself and ultimately abducted her.
In KambaRamayanam,Tamil version of the epic, it is written how Raavan got maddened by Sita’s beauty. When Raavan sees her for the first time he compares her hair with thunderbolt, he compares and asks himself if he is watching the second moon on earth! He feels so numb that he gets confused if it’s all a reality or he is under some kind of illusion. At last he convinces himself that she could only be the lady that her sister Shurpnakha had described to him.
But all this just describes Sita’s physical beauty. Sita’s inner beauty was many times more beautiful than her physical appearance. Her virtue, her morality, her motherly affection, her love for every single creature-living and non living, her nobility and all aspects in her nature can be compared only with her and not with anyone else born before or after her.
She forgave all those who pointed fingers on her chastity and her character. In fact, before leaving earth and going back to mother earth’s womb, she requested Lord Ram to forgive all those who questioned and blamed her character. Such was her love for all that all the creatures called her VanDevi (prime deity of forest)and considered her as their mother when she was in 14 years of exile with Ram and also when she was abandoned by Ram and lived in sage Valmiki’s hermitage.
Due to her persona and perfection, Sita is considered as an epitome of perfection of womanhood making all the women described above second to her and also making her the most beautiful woman in Hindu Mythology.
An actress of 42 is romancing an actor of 33! Isn’t it something we come across quite rarely in Bollywood? And even if we do, the movie is either an “artistic” one or it’s not shown in a very conventional manner like other b-town movies depict. In short we’ve never had an out and out commercial masala entertainer with this “older woman-young man” element before. Contrary to this, Karan Johar’s next directorial venture ‘Ae dil hai mushkil'(ADHM) shows our very own beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bacchan romancing our youth icon Ranbir Kapoor. The sizzling chemistry between Mrs Bacchan and Mr Kapoor is ready to break the stereotype that tells us that only a 50 plus male actor can romance a lady who’s in her 20s or even less than that. It’s not just the romance but also the passionate intimacy between them which is worth noticing as married actresses are always forbidden to show such intimacy on screen.
Now it’s not just that. Coming out of the reel world of cinema, it’s a kind of taboo for a man to have an affair with an older woman and vice versa in our society. Even if it’s been shown in the movies, the movies are either rejected by the audiences or it’s shown as illicit or a part of infidelity. But with this movie, I can’t see people even raising that point of age gap between the lead pair. In fact the pairing seems to be extremely fresh to us all. The hype and craze of the movie shows that audience is more than just ready to accept the lead pair ignoring the age factor which has been hitherto a very important aspect of our movies. If it’s not the changed perspective of our society on relationships then what else is this!
Also, it seems that this movie will touch more mature issues as seen in the teaser how four people and their lives are intertwined with each other. Keeping in mind all these aspects it is very much clear that we are evolving and so is our Bollywood which is seen as the mirror of our society. Showing such mature overtone in the movie proves that our society is growing up and accepting the fact that relationships are much more than age or other such factors.
Well that’s not a very astonishing fact actually as it’s a Kjo movie and he’s known to break stereotypes in Bollywood be it making a movie on terrorism like My name is khan, or on homosexuality like Dostana or Kapoor&sons. So kudos to Kjo and let’s just wait for ADHM to witness how many other stereotypes are ready to be broken in terms of relationships and their depth. Till then enjoy the beautiful heart touching soulful music of the movie and have fun. 😉😉😉
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