Posts Tagged With: Heritage

Why Mughals had Harem Quarters?

Harems were quintessential part of the Mughal’s palace. Last time I went to the Akbar’s Tomb in Agra, I observed the Harem Quarter was outside the immediate premises, I have seen Harem Quarters in other Mughal palaces too like the big one in Fatehpur Sikri. But the one in Akbar’s Tomb was small and it intrigued me as to why there’s a quarter in the mausoleum? Though the panel outside the structure said it was a Harem but later was used as ‘Hunting Lodge’ by Jahangir.

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The Kanch Mahal (Harem Quarters) outside the Akbar’s Tomb near Agra

And, in a quest to find out more here is what I discovered and it’s worth sharing.

‘Harem’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘haram’, which literally means sacred or forbidden / sacrosanct. Harems were separate quarters (proper living spaces) for women and the entry to these quarters was strictly prohibited for men other than the Emperor. The Emperor was the only adult male who entered the harem freely.

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Ain’t it beautiful enough to catch your attention! Just observe the intricate work executed with Jharokas, borders, balconies; To have such Mahal as your home, not a bad idea I say 🙂

There has been a lot of speculation about this part of the palace as first hand information was never available to historians. The second hand information was was laden with exotic notions, whims and fancies. This was because the outside world couldn’t fathom the arrangement of having separate living area for women folk under the same ceiling. Here is more about the subject :

  • Harems primarily composed of wives, female relatives, concubines, and were arranged in regard to their proximity to the Emperor.
  • The Emperor’s mother and chief wife enjoyed special position. Even foster mothers were given a position of importance. The rulers followed preferential treatment.
  • A large Harem was often considered testimony to King’s supremacy. Hence the more the merrier. It is believed at one time more than 5,000 women lived in Harems in Akbar’s palace (i.e. Fatehpur Sikri near Agra) however only about 300 were his official wives or concubines.
  • The Harem of the Mughal Empire was guarded by Eunuchs, as well as female warriors called Urdubegis. All the harem officers would be women or eunuchs.
  • Akbar was the first emperor to lay down rules for it and turn it into an institution. The harem was called Mahal and the chief officer of the harem was called Nazir-e-Mahal (in-charge of women quarters), there were daroghas (supervising officers) and other supportive staff. It was run as an administration within itself.
  • The Mughal women were very well educated not just in the religious texts but arts, sciences and warfare. And, apart from wives and concubines, lot of women played role of servants and hence the number of women in Harem at any given time was huge.

The Architecture Continue reading

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Categories: Akbar, Art and Culture, Experience, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra – Where Akbar rests in Eternal Peace!

Akbar’s Tomb is nestled since time immemorial in Sikandra, Agra. The architectural wonder evokes awe and reverence alike. Akbar’s tomb is an impressive illustration of the art, inspiring in many ways than one – the architecture, design, exquisite inlay work, crafted ceilings and walls decorated with calligraphy, placed beautifully in the huge expanse of 119 acres.

Akbar was buried at Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra in the mausoleum that was commenced by him while he was alive, and after his death finished by his son and successor, Jahangir in 1613 AD.

The story of history of Agra and it’s connection to Mughal Empire in India is incredibly gripping……Let’s rediscover together.

The ancient city (Agra) is referred to as ‘Agraban’ in Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India; And the other one identified as modern city, which was founded in 1558 AD.

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The main entrance to Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra. The Architecture is awe-inspiring, it left me wondering in that era such amazing work of art and architecture was created by humans! It’s impossible to replicate or even make something remotely similar reflecting this epitome of beauty and strength.

The Name – Sikandra!

Sultan Sikandar Lodi rebuilt Agra in 1505 AD and made it the seat of the Government. A few miles from Agra there is a village named after Sultan – Sikandra! Ibrahim Lodi, son of Sikandar Lodi, was defeated and slain by Babar at the ‘Battle of Panipat’, near Delhi, in 1526 AD. And thus began the reign of the Mughal Empire that lasted till 18th century (until the time India was gripped by British Raj).

The Era of Akbar the Great

Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, was born on 15 October, 1542 to Humayun and Hamida Begum at Umerkot in Sindh (now part of Pakistan). Akbar-e-Azam (Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar) was enthroned as emperor at a tender age of 13 on February 14, 1556. He succeeded Humayun and proved to be one of the greatest rulers of the Mughal dynasty in India. Under Akbar’s reign which lasted from 11 February, 1556 to 27 October, 1605 for 49 years, the Mughal Empire tripled in wealth and influence.

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Akbar, is admired for lot of things, for instance Akbar could neither read nor write but that did not stop him from having a great library of over 24,000 volumes spanning across Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Latin and Arabic and every book was read through to him from beginning to end. Akbar had remarkably open-minded attitude and invited several missions of Jesuit priests to his court, to learn more about Christian faith and to debate with representatives of Islam and other faiths. Akbar believed that all humankind constitutes a single brotherhood, created by the same God, and fundamentally equal before Him.

A detailed and minute account of Akbar’s life is captured in ‘Akbar-nama’, written by Akbar’s devoted friend Abul Fazl.

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Akbar’s cenotaph inside the mausoleum

 

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The Circumferential Gallery that surrounds the Tomb, observe the geometric impressions on ceiling and the perfection in architecture is so evident

Akbar 8 Continue reading

Categories: Akbar, Art and Culture, Experience, Heritage, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The Formidable Heritage!

The word ‘Heritage’ makes me relive our travel in Rajasthan. Rajasthan’s diversity is beyond capture in words – rich heritage, vibrant culture, majestic monuments with appealing history,  artistically sound, vast sand dunes, colorful villages, warm people and much more. Rajasthan is famous for showcasing the royal heritage of palaces, forts, havelis & desert safaris, offering a glimpse of it’s spirited culture.

For this week’s photo challenge I’m sharing pictures of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Founded in 1459, by Rao Jodha, Jodhpur (formerly known as Marwar) is the second largest city of Rajasthan.

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The fort was named Mehrangarh, meaning ‘fort of the sun’ – a reference to the Rathore clan’s mythical descent from the sun god Surya. The fort has seven gates commemorating victories of various rulers over Jaipur, Bikaner and Mughals. The museum inside the fort houses exquisite royal collection. It’s also called the ‘Citadel of the Sun’.!!

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Jodhpur 8

Weekly Photo Challenge – Heritage

Categories: Photography, Rajasthan, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

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