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
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.