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placeholder INTRODUCTION

Day 1: Visit to a Hindu temple; Concord parish reaches out

Day 2: Learning the rules of the road

Day 3: Family visits in ‘Catholic’ India

Day 4: Chennai (Madras) – Time with an apostle

Day 5: Close look at an Eastern Rite Church

Day 6: Ubiquitous respect for each others’ religious beliefs

Day 7: Southern India home to vast tea fields

Day 8: Worship on a houseboat

Day 9: St. Alphonsa, India's first canonized saint

Day 10: Home shrines a standard feature

Day 11: Portuguese influence very clear in Goa

Day 12: The Portuguese influence

Day 13: Time for a little tourism

Day 14: Seeing ‘the king’s land’

Day 15: Taj Mahal builder sought to unify religion

Day 16: India’s oldest mosque

Day 17: Discussing world issues

Concluding reflections

placeholder January 23, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA

Bishop Cordileone’s pilgrimage to India

Taj Mahal builder sought to unify religion

Day 15: Friday, Jan. 13

After an early morning breakfast, we set out at 7 a.m. for the five-hour drive to Agra, home to the world wonder Taj Mahal.

About an hour outside the city we stopped to visit the fortress in the town of Fatehpur Sikri, which for a period of only 12 years during the 18th Century was the capital of the kingdom in this part of India.

Due to the high salinity of the water, the king transferred the capital back to Agra. Fortunately, the fortress and royal palace are still in good condition, which afforded us the possibility of admiring its series of inner courtyards and the chambers for the Muslim king’s three wives: one a Hindu from Jaipur, one a Muslim from Turkey, and one a Christian from Portugal.

The king, Akbar, was a very learned and religious man, and a man unusually tolerant for his time and culture. He would engage in conversation about philosophy and religion with great intellects of his time, and sought to synthesize what he saw was good in all religions into one integral religious and moral belief system.

Upon arriving in Agra, we visited the fortress which then became the capital of the kingdom and housed the royal palace. Here I got my first view of the Taj Mahal, from a distance. This fortress, though, is marked by intrigue.

It was King Akbar’s grandson, King Shahjanhan, who built the Taj Mahal as an eternal testimony of love to his deceased wife. However, he was imprisoned by his son, Aurengzeb, who disapproved of his liberal policies and spending habits. Aurengzeb also murdered his three brothers to insure that he would be the one to hold the throne.

His father’s one wish, which he did respect, was to situate his cell such that he could always have a view of the Taj Mahal. And the cell itself was quite attractive, being made of marble with inlaid stone creating lively patterns of color which will not fade over time.


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