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Taj Mahal As I Saw

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For first-time visitors to India, it’s almost impossible to skip the bucket list-worthy Taj Mahal. The mausoleum in Agra is India’s most famous monument, and a sublime shrine to eternal love. Built from between 1632 and 1647 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal was dedicated to Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. But despite its iconic stature, much of its history is still shrouded in mystery. Here are a few things about the marble-clad marvel you might not have known.

#1 Optical illusions can be spotted everywhere

The architects and craftsmen of the Taj Mahal were masters of proportions and tricks of the eye. When you first approach the main gate that frames the Taj, for example, the monument appears incredibly close and large. But as you get closer, it shrinks in size  — exactly the opposite of what you’d expect. And although the minarets surrounding the tomb look perfectly upright, the towers actually lean outward, which serves both form and function: in addition to providing aesthetic balance, the pillars would crumble away from the main crypt in a disaster like an earthquake.

 

#2 The most famous myth is probably false

According to a popular legend, Shah Jahan wanted desperately for the mausoleum to be an exquisite masterpiece without an equal. To ensure no one could recreate the Taj Mahal’s beauty, Shah Jahan supposedly severed the hands and gouged the eyes of the artisans and craftsmen. Despite the prevalence of this gruesome tale, historians have found no evidence to support the story—though it does heighten the drama of the romantic tragedy.

 

#3 It’s (almost) perfectly symmetrical


The Taj Mahal is the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, constructed with impeccable symmetry according to the doctrines of the period’s style. Minarets flank the domed tomb, and a central pool reflects the main building. The gardens—an earthly representation of paradise—are divided into quadrants, and twin red sandstone buildings (an east-facing mosque and a west-facing guesthouse) give the mausoleum complex a balanced harmony. There is, however, one exception. Shah Jahan’s cenotaph is peculiarly positioned west of the central axis, throwing off the equilibrium. The odd placement has led many to believe he never meant to be buried there at all.

 

#4 The Taj gets regular facials

Age and pollution has taken a toll on the Taj Mahal’s gleaming white marble façade, which has turned brownish-yellow under the sooty conditions. Occaionally, the monument is given a spa day. Specifically, a mudpack facial called multiani mitti. This traditional recipe used by Indian women to restore radiance is applied, and then washed off with brushes, after which the Taj’s blemishes vanish, and its glow returns.

 

#5 It is as much of a symbol of power as it is of love

Accounts have shown that, as a leader, Shah Jahan was more ruthless than romantic. For all its associations to devotion and ardor, the Taj was also a source of propaganda. The complex’s ordered symmetry symbolizes absolute power—the perfection of Mughal leadership. And its grand scale and extravagance (crystal, lapis lazuli, makrana marble, turquoise) only brought glory to Shah Jahan’s reign.

 

#6 It changes color throughout the day

One of the allures of the Taj Mahal is its constantly changing hue. From dawn to dusk, the sun transforms the mausoleum. It may seem pearly gray and pale pink at sunrise, dazzling white at high noon, and an orange-bronze when the sun sets. In the evenings, the Taj can appear translucent blue. Special tickets are even sold for full moon and eclipse viewings.

 

#7 A second, black-marble Taj Mahal was being planned

Remember the haphazard placement of Shah Jahan’s cenotaph? Local lore says that Shah Jahan wanted to construct a shadow image across the Yamuna River—an identical, but opposite Taj Mahal hewn from black marble—where he would be entombed. It was said that construction came to a halt after Shah Jahan was deposed by his son (ironically, a child of Mumtaz Mahal) and imprisoned at the nearby Agra Fort. Some historians have dismissed this story as folklore, too.

 

Originally published on Facebook  wall of Harshawardhan Vira Shahani, the writer of this post.

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Happiness

The Hero – The Bollywood story

A short-film that feels like 2-hour long Bollywood for good.

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We have watched lots of Bollywood films and series touching upon the theme of struggle of middle-class man to find a recognition in Bollywood. This short-movie“The Hero – The Bollywood story” is also in around the similar story line about a man who once was aspired to make his name and fame through Bollywood but could not because of his personal obligation and circumstances.

It is an Google India sponsored short film starring Vicky Kaushal,notable Bollywood actor, just risen up from the fame of critically acclaimed movie Masan and Sanju, in the role of Son; Morali Desai, notable Gujarati actress, and Nandu Madhav, a notable Marathi actor, in the role as dad. This short film has tried touching the emotional dynamic of father-son relationship and has tried beautifully depict how a man’s dream never really dies even long after the dream is forgotten.

The story starts with the son talking with his mom about his job in Mumbai and how he wanted both their parents to come visit him. Then mom told him about the time when his father went to Mumbai to be an actor and somehow landed upon a small role in a movie too. She talked about his father’s aspiration and dream but how he was forced to return back home since his father insisted him to get back to home leaving his budding career in Bollywood. Listening to the story and moved by the fact that his father’s dream could not be fulfilled then, the son with the help of Google search system found out the details about the movie his father played a role in. To surprise his dad, he plans a trip to the shooting location and takes him there to give a taste of joy from the past and his unfulfilled dream.

With the simple plot revolving around the man in his late 50s/60s, who once dreamt of making big in Bollywood and how his family pressure ruined his dream but despite how after many years the son motivated him to get feel his desired life through short trips around the country was depicted quite nicely in it. The casts were phenomenal too, with Vicky Kaushal again flaunting his impeccable acting skills and so Mr. Nandu Madhav as dad.

Sound is spot on throughout the scene, with touch of sad music when mom is telling her son about shattered dream of his father and when they reach the location where Sholay was shot, we get to hear the cheerful Bollywood music. With lyrics from legendary lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya, this 5-minute actually feels like watching 2 hours of Bollywood movie.

Some annoying parts to me in this movie is it the direct push ad of Google making experience bit cringe, but hey! they sponsored for this beautiful short film, so deserve the discount.

Anyway, overall it is worth investing 5 minutes of your life over this short film. Loved it!

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Documentary

Who will be a Gurkha

Who Will Be a Gurkha shows the 200 years old selection process of Nepalis youth into British Gurkha.  Directed by Kesang Tseten, the documentary shows the selection process, sentiments and emotions of young candidates, their struggles and dreams, along with the recruiters and their duties, which otherwise is less known world for others. 

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Who Will Be a Gurkha shows the 200 years old selection process of Nepalis youth into British Gurkha.  Directed by Kesang Tseten, the documentary shows the selection process, sentiments and emotions of young candidates, their struggles and dreams, along with the recruiters and their duties, which otherwise is less known world for others.

This documentary can trigger some disturbing questions in any mind with bit of nationalism and patriotism.  Also, can strike emotional chord in any sentimental mind.

In the end, you will only add huge respects and love for those Nepalis serving British Army because by now, you will have already learned the hardship they must have gone through to get there.

This documentary was released in 2012.  It has been screened at many national and international film festivals and has won numerous jury and viewers awards.

https://www.facebook.com/kaagmandumagazine/videos/564087254389925/

Also check this out, 

A small click on what happens as these selected guys reach to UK.  A small video clip overloaded with cuteness.

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Arts & Literature

Anime is not only for kids

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Comic books was part of my growing up, and then came English movies and series. I am that “Government school guy,” which means my English was terrible (it still is but it was worst). Thanks to the subtitles, I would watch anyway and with time, things started getting smoother and easier for me as English didn’t seem that hard. Until now, I was still a Hollywood fanboy. It’s only after meeting that one friend in college, who happened to be a big fan of anime, that I learned about that thing. At first, like everybody else, I thought anime is cartoons made for kids. The friend introduced me to anime world, and through him, I learned that there is this one anime called “One Punch Man” that anime community is going gaga about. So, I got curious by the title and gave a shot. Guess what? I got hooked with anime like magnet to iron. And here I am giving my opinion about anime and why it is superior form of entertainment in this world filled with movies and TV shows. Yes, SUPERIOR!

So, what is anime?

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Anime is just the animated motion picture version of comic book called Manga. Manga is the original source materials for the anime. It is a picture book with all the actions, dialogues, and everything that a comic book contains produced by exceptionally good and creative artists. It can differ from simple kid shows to shows which deals with heavy real world politics too.

The original source of these mangas and anime are from Japan but nowadays it’s spreading into other countries like Korea and China too. Mangas and anime are so popular in Japanese culture that it is part of school curriculum.

My recommendation

There are lots of high quality animes out there. Some of my favourites are:

One Piece

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This is my favourite among all the favourites. This was first published around the year 1999. The storyline is about pirates and their shenanigans. It’s kind of light hearted with touch of comedy but it actually sends out the message related to an oppression of the people by those from a higher power; it covers racism, slavery; shows what real freedom feels like, so for people who like deep characterization, value of friendship, value of dream and tackle of real world problems, then this show is definitely for you.

Death Note

copyright to filmaffinity.com

This is another boundary breaking show. It gives the message that if you do bad things with good intention for good of the people, it’s still bad. This anime is about hero who wants to save others, and a psychopath who will kill all for achieving peace. It is detective-type story with main character being Kagami Light and Detective L. So for people who like cat-mouse race story, this show is definitely for you. This anime generally falls under starter pack for new comer in anime world.

Demon Slayer

copyright to denofgeek.com

It’s not boundary breaking in terms of characterization or in a story too but its boundary breaking in animation. When it first came out, people lost their mind over its animation. With awesome cinematography using excellent animation, this anime defined the new era in anime world. So, those who like to feel the evolution of anime world should not miss this one to feel the differences and how anime world changed with time.

The Promised Neverland

copyright to cbr.com

This anime belongs to the horror genre and took the genre to a whole new level. It has simple story with no as such monsters like creature, but it deals with a bunch of kids from age 4/5 to 12 years old, who are kind of genius for their age and are trying to run away from their orphanage which they found out is the place meant to harvest these kids for the monsters living out in the world. If you like horror genre then this shows is definitely for you and its animation is also of topnotch.

Okay, I am done! Now go check out on your own some of the best animes available and you know will what I meant. All I can say for now is, if you are multimedia entertainment fan then anime is something you have been missing for a long time. Containing entertainment of every genre, with topnotch cinematography using crisp animation and dealing with real world problem in a very subtle and metaphorical way, then anime is what you need to watch right now. Go watch it.

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