ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “emperor

DAY 9 (2/4): AGRA FORT, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2018.12.02

Similar to the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List since the 1980s, making it one of the three must-see attractions in Agra.  Known as the Red Fort of Agra, the Agra Fort served as the royal residence of the early Mughal emperors until 1638 when the capital was moved to Delhi.  It was constructed during the golden age of the Mughal Empire under two prolific builders: Emperor Akbar the Great and his grandson Shah Jahan.  While Akbar is well known for founding the short lived capital Fatehpur Sikri, Shah Jahan is perhaps best known for erecting the most perfect Mughal architecture ever, the Taj Mahal.  On the ruins of an earlier fort, Akbar rebuilt the Agra Fort with red sandstone.  Akbar’s Agra Fort was completed in 1573 but was later transformed by Shah Jahan into its current mix of red sandstone and white marble buildings.

After visiting the Taj, we dropped by Joney’s Place, the local eatery where we had dinner the night before for breakfast.  We had a few hours to spare before our walking tour at 2:30pm.  Agra Fort was the obvious choice for us.  An auto rickshaw brought us to the busy fort entrance in no time.  Just like the Red Fort in Delhi, Agra Fort was very popular with local tourists.

IMG_2458Despite served as the royal residence, the Agra Fort appeared like a heavily fortified complex from its exterior.

IMG_2472Inside Agra Fort, Diwan-i-am was the main audience hall in the complex.

IMG_2478Built between 1631 to 1640, the 201′ by 67′ Diwan-i-am was the hall where Emperor Shah Jehan addressed the general public and his guests.

DSC_2780Constructed by Shah Jahan in 1637, the Anguri Bagh (Grape Garden) was used as a vineyard to make wine for the emperor.

DSC_2787Stone colonnade flanked three sides of the Anguri Bagh.

DSC_2852Khas Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his daughter Jahanara and Roshanara.

DSC_2807Adjacent to the Khas Mahal, covered verandahs and the marble terraces offered visitors a fantastic view of the Yamuna River.

DSC_2870The Musamman Burj is one of the most splendidly crafted buildings in the complex.

DSC_2902 While Akbar built his buildings with sandstone, his grandson Shah Jahan preferred white marble just like another of his other project, the Taj Mahal.

IMG_2556Musamman Burj, an octagonal tower with great views of the Yamuna River, was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

IMG_2533Together with his daughter Jahanara Begum, It was here that Shah Jahan spent his last few years as a captive of his son Aurangzeb.

IMG_2507From here, Shah Jahan spent his final moments on his death bed facing the Taj Mahal, the tomb of his beloved wife.

IMG_2546Tourists love to take pictures against the beautiful marble lattice work.  This woman didn’t even notice the approach monkey as she posed for photo.

IMG_2563Known as the Gem Mosque, the Nagina Masjid is a small marble mosque built by Shah Jahan.

DSC_2820Built by Emperor Akbar, the Jahangiri Mahal Palace was the primary zenana to house his Rajput wives.  Compared to his grandson Shah Jahan’s buildings, Akbar’s buildings were mainly built with red sandstone.

DSC_2822Jahangiri Mahal Palace is one of the oldest surviving building in Agra Fort and also the largest part in the compound.

DSC_2836A beautiful dome ceiling at the Jahangiri Mahal Palace.

DSC_2904Only 30 out of 500 buildings of the Jahangir Mahal Palace survive to the present.  Many had been destroyed by Shah Jahan and later the British.

IMG_2590After the visit, we returned to the main entrance and hopped on an auto rickshaw to return our hotel.

 

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DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China

We chose the historical city wall to end our visit of Xian.  Constructed upon an earlier imperial fortification network of the Tang Dynasty, the First Emperor of Ming Dynasty, Hongwu (洪武), erected the 14km city wall in the 14th century.  Today, this Ming city wall has become one of the most well preserved of its kind in China.  Our taxi dropped us off at the West Gate, also known as Andingmen (安定門).  There was a belt of public park running along the city wall where the locals engaged in all kinds of activities from dancing to playing badminton.  After walking around the area for several minutes we finally found the ticket office and the stair going up to the city wall.  Up on the wall we reached another network of public space where people strolled and cycled.  Against the background of the cloudy sky and charcoal grey bricks, rows of crimson lanterns began to lit up as we walked towards the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).  It turned out to be less than an hour of leisure stroll.  Our two friends opted for cycling to complete the journey, while we chose to take our time to walk, take photos, and watch the city below gradually lit up.

dsc_8153Our taxi dropped us off at Andingmen (安定門).

dsc_8167Dusk had fallen upon Xian as we began our walk from Andingmen (安定門).

dsc_8180Signage on Xian city wall.

dsc_8191Xian city wall is a popular for cyclists.

dsc_8207Vivid lighting and red lanterns turned the city wall into a focal point of Xian at night.

dsc_8216Atmospheric dining in traditional houses seemed common along the city wall.

dsc_8243It was interesting to watch the busy street scenes as we walked.

dsc_8263Traditional architectural style is still commonly used for restaurants and hotels in Xian.

dsc_8268After slightly less than an hour of walk, we finally reached the archery tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8281Archery Tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門)

dsc_8290Man played with his kid in front of the flood light of the Archery Tower .

dsc_8313The South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門) is perfectly aligned with the Bell Tower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8319Closer up of the Archery Tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8307Descending down the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8331The South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8333Looking back at the Archery Tower from the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked through the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門) to enter the city centre.  We ended up having a fast food dinner and finished the day early.  We needed time to pack our stuff and get ready for our morning flight the next day to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟).

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Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

 

 


DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China

In the morning, we headed to the main railway station of Xian.  At the station’s  east plaza, there were a number of municipal buses designated for major tourist attractions near the city.  We hopped onto one of the several buses heading to the Terracotta Army (兵馬俑).  The bus ride took roughly an hour to arrive at the parking lot, which was about 15 minutes of walk from the gate of the archaeological site.  On our way to the gate, we passed by an alleyway full of vendors.  An elderly woman selling baby woolen shoes beautifully handcrafted in traditional styles caught our attention.  From the ticket hall it was another 15-minute meandering through a park until reaching the main site, where four exhibition halls housed the most important archaeological discovery in China in the 20th century.  We started from Pit 1, the biggest and most impressive exhibition hall where about 2000 terracotta warriors were on display in rows of excavated ditches.  There were over 6000 warriors in this pit alone.  It was unbelievable that no two warriors have the same face.  At Pit 3 a number of high ranked terracotta generals were unearthed, prompting archaeologists to believe that it was the vault for the commanders.  However the pit had been partially damaged.  We then moved on to Pit 2 that offer close-up encounter with different types of warriors: archers, infantry, chariots, troopers, etc.  The extraordinary details of the warrior’s hairstyles and armour were captivating, leaving us plenty of clues to piece together an impression of what being one of the thousands of warriors protecting the mighty First Qin Emperor (秦始皇)might be like 2200 years ago.  Before leaving, we dared not to miss the “Qin Shi Huang Emperor Tomb Artefact Exhibition Hall”, in which two bronze chariots and horses unearthed near the mausoleum were on display.

We have learnt about the Terracotta Army since early childhood in Hong Kong from books and school.  We had seen an amazing traveling exhibition of the warriors at London’s British Museum back in 2008, but none could compare with seeing the real excavation site of the army.  Discovered in 1974 by a well-digging farmer, the Terracotta Army belongs to the outer part of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.  Famous as a cruel tyrant, the First Qin Emperor was also widely recognized for his contributions on unifying China, not only militarily, but also the language, culture, economy and measurement units.  Built between BC 208 to 256, the mausoleum construction began in the first year of his throne when the First Qin Emperor was 13 years old.  The 8000+ terracotta warriors unearthed revealed the high level of sculpting skills and artistic craftsmanship of the Qin Dynasty, as well as the selfish personality of the First Qin Emperor.  Legend had it that the First Qin Emperor had huge fear of mortality.  Not only he sent out travelers to look for the medicine of immortality, he also commissioned a build a terracotta army to safeguard his tomb from his uncounted enemies in the Afterlife.  Ancient texts also described the exquisite construction of the mausoleum, including river streams filled with mercury so they would never dried up.  Before the actual digging of the mausoleum may take place one day in the future, our generation could only imagine the exquisite of the emperor’s underground mausoleum from ancient depictions and archaeological studies of the excavated terracotta army.

dsc_7267Like many railway stations in the country, Xian Railway Station is a huge building.

dsc_7273The old woman making traditional woolen shoes near the parking lot of the Terracotta Army.

dsc_7288Aisles of the Terracotta Army in Pit One.

dsc_7286No visitors were allowed to go down to the aisles, except archaeologists and occasional VIP.

dsc_7307Looking at the warriors, it was hard to imagine all of them were once fully coloured.

dsc_7342Built in 1976, the huge building covering Pit One felt like a railway station.

dsc_7349The terracotta warriors seemed like they were queuing for a train, but in fact, the warriors were facing eastwards and battle-ready to guard the Emperor’s tomb from enemies of the east, namely the six nations that Qin had conquered before unifying China into a single nation.

dsc_7353A number of the terracotta warriors were in different stages of conservation.

dsc_7361Terracotta warriors and horses at Pit 2.

dsc_7437Overview of Pit 2.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScattered pieces of warriors and artefacts at Pit 2.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotographs of the coloured warriors during excavation.

dsc_7394Several terracotta warriors were displayed in glass boxes at Pit 3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll of them had different hairstyles, dresses, postures, and faces.

dsc_7407Terracotta statue of an high ranked official.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABelly of the high ranked official.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArcher without the bow.  Some of the weaponry were also on display.

dsc_7414Cavalry and his beautifully carved horse.

dsc_7421The details of the horse’s headpiece was magnificent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACloseup of a warrior’s head showing unique hairstyle of that time.

dsc_7460Two bronze chariots were discovered near the mausoleum.  They are roughly half the size of the real objects.  The chariots were unearthed in 1980 and took archaeologists years to put back together the broken pieces.  These chariots are one of the fifty or so designated artefacts that can never leave the country.

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Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

 


DAY 7: RED FORT, Delhi, India

Before returning home, we had one last day of exploration in the Indian capital, Delhi.  It wasn’t the best time to visit Delhi because of the pre-monsoon heat, we did manage to check out a little bit of Old Delhi to get a taste of what many travelers described as a bustling city full of chaotic streetscapes, persistent touts, crazy traffic, tourist scams, conditions of poor hygiene, etc.  Due to the fact that it was our first time to Delhi, we selected two of the most popular attractions in Old Delhi: Red Fort and Jama Masjid.

Red Fort was the former royal palace of the Moghal Empire from the 17th to 19th century.  In the 103 hectare of land many former buildings survive inside its extensive walls.  Because of the red sandstone used for the defensive enclosure,  there comes the name of Red Fort.  Despite the noontime heat, we took our time to wander around the former royal courts and the splendid architecture from the late Mughal Empire.  We entered the complex through the famous Lahori Gate, walked through the covered bazaar Chhatta Chowk, visited the small Indian War Memorial Museum at Naubat Khana (Drum House), admired the former audience hall Diwan-i-Aam among tourist crowds, and lastly checked out the marble buildings at the inner court, including the Diwan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal, Rang Mahal, and Mumtaz Mahal (Red Fort Archaeological Museum).  The surviving buildings of Red Fort introduced us the concept of beauty and design ornaments commonly found in traditional Indian architecture.

dsc_6569Heading into the Red Fort through the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6573Local visitors at the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6564The Chhatta Chowk, which literally means the “covered bazaar”, is a unique covered market with 32 arches dated back to the 17th century.

dsc_6735The Naubat Khana (Drum House) was a common feature in an Indian palace.  Music was played several times a day at the Naubat Khana in the old days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA local visitor walking through Naubat Khana.

dsc_6605Inner facade of the Naubat Khana (Drum House).

dsc_6602The Diwan-i-Aam (Audience Hall) was the building where the Mughal royal members received guests and the public.

dsc_6609The Diwan-i-Aam was consisted of 27 square bays of arches made of red sandstone.

dsc_6620The throne covered by a marble canopy (jharokha) is the focus of Diwan-i-Aam.

dsc_6631Beyond the Diwan-i-Aam stand the inner court and residence buildings of the Mughal royal family.

dsc_6662The Khas Mahal serves as the royal residence of the Mughal emperor.

dsc_6665Local visitors walking by the Khas Mahal.

dsc_6674Beautiful details made of marble and gemstones at Khas Mahal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocal visitors dressed in vivid colours.

dsc_6677Local visitors at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6682Magnificent window screen at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6688Door handle at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6699Khas Mahal

dsc_6707Exterior view of Khas Mahal.

dsc_6711Much of the Red Fort was covered with green lawns.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi