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Born Emperor-Akbar

The great emperor of India in the Mughal Dynasty is still remembered as “Akbar the Great”. But do you know how was his destiny forged into such marvelous era of the country. The ruler of maximum of India then, was a kid when he sat on the Throne of Mughal kingdom. None of his ancestors and the then rulers would have imagined his success. His father Humayun ran into many battles and was defeated several times. Once when he was on a exile and run after a war, Akbar was born to his wife Hamida Banu Begum.

Mohammad Jalaluddin was the childhood name of Akbar and he was also called Jalal by his mother. His upbringing was done by another lady known as Maha Manga. She was known as the Dai Maa of Jalal. Akbar could never complete his theoretical studies and even couldn’t read or write. But as a religious person he always learnt the writings of Kuraan by poets reciting it for him. He though loved art and that can be seen from various singers, poets and artists which flourished in Mughal courts.

When Humayun passed away the kingdom fell apart in hands of Raja Hemu. Under the extremely astonishing supervision of Bairam Khan, General of Mughal army, Raja Hemu was defeated and the throne once again was captured by Mughals. The new emperor took his first step on 14 Feb 1956 towards a long journey of 49 years to rule the kingdom. Whenever its a matter of supreme power and throne, bloodshed is common among rulers and even in relations. Many of his brothers like Hakim Mirza from Kabul attacked akbar several times to occupy more land. Adham Khan, son of Maha Manga, also had a lust for power and rose against the emperor. Many times Akbar curbed the revolts done by Adham Khan, but one day when he killed the most honorable minister of the court, Adgah Khan, he was threw from fort by Akbar himself. Akbar shifted from Delhi to Agra and made this city as his capital. Agar was a beautiful place, rich in culture, connectivity to all provinces and money.

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Despite of these rebels, Akbar maintained a vast empire north of river Godavari, which stretched over on almost whole of India from Kabul. His grandfather (Babur) invaded India from that part of the land. Akbar fought many battles against the prominent rulers of Mewar (Rana Uday Singh and Maharana Pratap) and lately succeeded in capturing Chittor- capital of Mewar. Akbar loved Elephants and always had them in war.

Akbar was a face of change in the Indian history. He ruled up to 1605 until his death and in this reign of 49 years as a ruler he changed a lot. He himself got married to a Rajput princess from Aamer and promoted Hindu-Muslim unity. He introduced Din-e-Ilahi, which meant giving equal respect to all flourishing religions and customs in the country. He imposed off the tax on Hindu pilgrimage then known as Jajiya. He treated every men equally and even got his son Salim (Jehangir) married to a Hindu Rajput princess. His court was full with both Hindu and Muslim patrons. He had Raja Maan Singh of Aamer as his chief of army, Raja Todar Mal as chief of finance, Raja Birbal, Abul Fazal, Tansen etc. These people were like gems to Mughal court and to Akbar personally. Women were also in power in his reign. His court always had women to attend important matters and they possessed right to give their views to the king. Women learnt fighting skills and also literature. Humayun Nama was the book of his father written by Gulbadan Begum. Ain-I-Akbari was written by Abul fazal. He started Diwaan-e-Khaas for personal and important political matters and Diwaan-e- Aam for public matters. He was so well connected to his people that due to their king’s courtesy they named him “Akbar”.

He also encouraged Persian architecture in buildings and maintained trade relations with west including guns, gun powder and spices. He laid down the foundation of Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. Agra fort in itself is a great example of Mughal architecture. After the rebellions from his own son Salim and grandson Khusrau, he was less interested in politics and was tired. He eventually fell ill and died in 1605. The circumstances in which he became a king, the way in which he created an emperor of the whole kingdom out of him, the way he ruled it for 49 successful years, the relations he laid within the country and with western world, the extreme changes he brought to society for its betterment, the promotion of art, literature and architecture which he encouraged, and with all ups and downs the way he ruled, he surely was a Born Emperor.

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Taj Mahal- An exquisite piece of architectural engineering

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In 17th century, the mighty Mughal empire was under the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan. It is stated as one of the most glorious period of Indian history for its architectural achievements. The credit for this goes to the marvelous marble mausoleum of the era- Taj Mahal. But do you know the engineering aspects and the scale which it involved was at par for that time. It may be easily possible in the present technological world, but during those time, constructions like these were a symbol of excellence.

Taj Mahal (crown of the palace) was built as a symbol of love for the beloved wife of the emperor, Mumtaz Mahal. She was considered the “chosen one of the palace” and the bond that this couple shared was far beyond words. Taj Mahal was built to amaze and be a testimony for a combination of grace, scale, power and beauty. Taj was the final resting place for the queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It contains her tomb at the center of the building beneath the ground and an exact replica above for the visitors. Underneath she lies in peace.

Some of the interesting facts that make this building a masterpiece of architectural engineering are:

  • Thousands of artisans, craftsmen and labourers were called in to the capital city Agra to build this monument.
  • Elephants were used for carrying the heavy materials and slabs required.

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  • Taj Mahal was to be located at the banks of river Yamuna. The problem with such a terrain was that there was no solid ground to lay the foundation. Hence the engineers came up with a brilliant solution. They dig deep wells in the ground below the water table and then filled it up with rocks and mortar. Pillars were laid on these wells and were connected via arches. This provided a rock mountain for Taj to be built upon it. Today it is known as Well Foundation technique.

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  • The mighty dome of the building was created without any external architectural support as beams or pillars. This was achieved by laying down the layers of bricks one above the other in such a way that whole stress was distributed on the base foundation. It is still admired by engineers for the excellent “stress calculations” involved.
  • The minarets were kept to lean a little outwards so that it can be seen upright straight along with center building. It was also an advantage during earthquakes, if happened, minarets will fall outside sparing the central structure.
  • The frame gate made in red sandstone was built at such a place that it creates a perfect illusion. If you move closer, Taj gets smaller in view and as you move away, it gets bigger.

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  • Million of bricks were required and hence baked on the site itself.
  • White Marble used for structure to be covered was brought especially from Makrana, Rajasthan.
  • Channels in the garden represents the River of Paradise represented in holy Kuran and the center meeting point quenches the thirst with holy water.

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  • Pietra-dura” art was astonishingly applied for this structure. It was an Italian art which was performed by cutting marble into grooves and the finishing gems with perfection and then these gems were stuck into those grooves with special paste as adhesive. This art still prevails and the work is marvelous.

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 The scale at which this project was done was the biggest in the century and when the final outcome of this building has a remarkable impact on history. In terms of engineering, it explored the methodologies which were never implemented before. Surely the structure deserved to be in Seven Wonders of the World.

Before Paper was in India

When paper was discovered it marked an era of storing knowledge and facts in form of manuscripts. Later with bindings it became books. Do you know how it all started and what was the techniques used before it.

Paper was first found in China among the people of Han dynasty. This new technology gained its height by getting popular throughout the globe. The paper technology traveled from China to Muslim states and countries in west via Silk road. The main center of this was in Samarkand and from there it flourished over India and to the Western world.

Before paper was founded in India and was in use all kinds of preaching was just recited by teachers to their pupils. This was known as “Shruti” era. Once paper came into existence, everything changed. Before that, Indians used stones to write on hard surfaces as other stones or rocks by engraving and sculpturing. All form of emotions and sayings whether religious or technical was conveyed in this form. Even today many temples and monuments in India are an exquisite example of it. Other than this, bark of tree known as bhauj/bhoj patra, tad patra, leaves and clothes were used to write with colors from natural spices, cereals and flower extracts in powdered/paste form. These spices had Lal Mirch (Red Chilli) , Haldi (Turmeric) and flower extracts included marigold and mustard mainly. Instead of pen, woods or stems with sharp pointed nibs were used and the preferred woods were of Rose and Setha. This was used to write certain literature and official records. All main manuscripts and rest of the important documents were written on clothes and preserved with rolls of metals or glass casing.